Politics & Policy

Reparations for Milwaukee?

Residents head to the polls to take part in early voting in the presidential election at the Milwaukee Municipal Building in Milwaukee, Wisc., October 29, 2012. (Darren Hauck/Reuters)
How about giving it a functional high school.

For years, I have argued that the two major political parties should host their conventions year after year in the same cities, choosing two that truly represent the vision of each party.

For the Republicans, that would mean some place such as Indian Wells., Calif., or The Woodlands, Texas. Indian Wells is the second-most-Republican jurisdiction in California (behind Villa Park, as of last year), a place full of gated communities, beautiful golf courses, and rich old white people. The Woodlands is pretty rich and white, too, a suburb distantly in the orbit of a much more populous, diverse, and badly governed city run by Democrats.

The Democrats’ model city is Detroit. That’s literally the case: One of Lyndon Johnson’s utopian schemes was the so-called Model Cities program, in which the very best thinking of the Great Society brain trust would be mustered in the service of alleviating poverty and building local institutions. Its primary beneficiary was to be Detroit, which became something like a lost city, though it has lately started to show some encouraging stirrings of recovery.

But the Democrats have come close to taking my advice this time around: They’ll convene in 2020 to nominate a presidential candidate in Milwaukee.

You had to know it was going to be Wisconsin. Ever since Vladimir Putin’s troll army on Facebook cleverly convinced Hillary Rodham Clinton not to campaign in Wisconsin — thereby robbing Herself of the tiara she’s been coveting since her days on the “bimbo eruptions” desk — the Democrats have been kicking themselves for having essentially flunked out of the Electoral College.

Wisconsin shows the strength and weaknesses of the Democratic approach to governance, dramatically in some cases. For example, the state has some of the best public schools in the country — if you’re rich and white.

If you’re not . . .

Wisconsin, the progressive heartland, is, as it turns out, a pretty rotten place to live if you’re among the people progressives like to advertise themselves as looking out for: the poor, the marginalized, the nonwhite.

Wisconsin has for some years had the nation’s largest black–white gap in high-school graduation rates.

In the 2015–16 school year, white students in Wisconsin were No. 3 in the United States, with a graduation rate of 92.7 percent. Black students in the same state had the second-lowest graduation rate in the country, at 64.2 percent — a graduate rate of less than two out of three.

The Democrats should pay a visit to Milwaukee North Division High School, where they can meditate upon these astounding data: Daily attendance rate: 62.3 percent; four-year graduation rate: 31.7 percent; ACT language proficiency: 7.5 percent; ACT math proficiency: 0.0 percent; percentage of students in the lowest language and math categories: 80 percent and 87.5 percent, respectively.

In response to a particularly stupid column by Paul Krugman a few years back, our friend Iowahawk shared an interesting discovery: Schools in progressive Wisconsin on average outperform the schools in low-spending, Republican Texas — but the schools in Texas outperform the schools in Wisconsin when it comes to outcomes for white students, black students, and Latino students, each of which group produced higher test scores in Texas than in Wisconsin. Wisconsin came out ahead not because it does a better job with any particular group of students but because it is overwhelmingly white. In other states black and Hispanic students trail their white peers, too, but seldom as much as they do in Wisconsin’s graduation rates.

The Democrats own Milwaukee, which hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1908. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez et al. will be cheered to know that Milwaukee has had three times as many socialist mayors as Republicans since the beginning of the 20th century.

Reparations? How about a functional high school?

Milwaukee has its troubles, to be sure. How do African Americans fare in rich, progressive San Francisco?

You might have a little trouble finding one to ask.

More than half of San Francisco’s black population has simply disappeared, having been driven out of the city through planning and zoning policies that amount to willful segregation, elevating the interests of rich and overwhelmingly white property owners over those of younger and less moneyed would-be residents locked out of the market — the average price for a house in San Francisco is more than $1.6 million and rising.

If you don’t like Milwaukee or San Francisco, try Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, or any other Democrat-dominated city and ask how things are going there.

The answer you’ll overwhelmingly find is: Pretty good if you’re rich and white.

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