Urban and rural areas of Wisconsin were affected by the social ferment that began in the 1960s, inspired by the civil rights movement, protests against the Vietnam War (1959-1975), and youth rebellion. Unrest was concentrated among college-age students and on the state’s four-year college campuses, especially in Madison, which had a long history of student activism. Another focus for civil rights was in Milwaukee, which had the largest black population in the state and a high degree of segregation. Milwaukee also had growing Hispanic and Native American communities.
Desegregation efforts in Milwaukee led to two federal lawsuits. In the first, blacks alleged discriminatory treatment by Milwaukee public schools. In 1976 a federal court ordered the schools to implement a desegregation plan, and in the mid-1990s schools were still operating under the court order.
The second suit was brought by the Milwaukee public schools against the surrounding suburbs, alleging blacks were denied access to the suburbs, which worsened segregation within the city. That 1987 suit was dismissed but resulted in a limited, voluntary student exchange program with the schools.
Public dissatisfaction with public schools’ performance, especially in Milwaukee, led to intervention by the state legislature in the 1990s. Business interests have strongly supported reforms, including vouchers for private schools, mandated achievement testing of students, stronger school boards, and authorization of state-funded, privately run charter schools.
A parental choice program in Milwaukee gave vouchers to low-income parents, which the parents could use to send their children to private schools. The majority of the children in the choice program attended religious schools. New schools also opened with minimal government supervision; not all of them survived. "Wisconsin" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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