MPS' future suddenly depends on the governor's race and more big news for Bronzeville

In a span of days, the future existence of MPS becomes entwined in the Wisconsin governor's race

  • Two Republicans running for governor - former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Kevin Nicholson - said this week they would sign legislation that dissolves the state's largest school district while Gov. Tony Evers, who spent a career in education, said the idea would throw Milwaukee's children into "chaos."

  • "We have to take care of the system we have in place now. And our system, by the way, is eighth best in the United States of America. And it was 17th best approximately four years ago," Evers told reporters in Green Bay, referring to one measure of the state's public schools.

  • Also, Republican lawmakers, led by Senate Education Committee chairwoman Alberta Darling, are proposing a package of bills that expand taxpayer-funded alternatives to public schools, including increasing the number of charter schools and giving parents money to pay for additional learning opportunities outside of the normal school day, including college courses. The lawmakers are also proposing to create a "Parental Bill of Rights" that would allow parents to sue school officials if one of the rights were violated. Separately, Republicans in the state Assembly passed a proposal in January to allow some high school students and parents to have firearms on school property. Evers signaled he would veto the proposals.

A 50,000-square-foot arts and cultural center focusing on Black art is planned for a key location in Milwaukee's Bronzeville neighborhood.

  • ​​​​​​​The Bronzeville Center for the Arts, a new nonprofit group, plans to develop that 50,000-square-foot building at 2300 N. King Drive. A 2024 opening is tentatively planned. That's now the site of the former Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regional office building, which would be demolished to make way for the new facility.

  • The development would feature visual arts exhibitions, arts-oriented seminars and other education programs, art workshops and performing arts space. But those conceptual plans are to be formed with community input. “The community is at the core of this project,” said Della Wells, a Milwaukee artist and Bronzeville Center for the Arts board vice president.

  • The group's vision focuses on making art of the African diaspora "a central focus in the cultural consciousness of present and future generations," according to its mission statement. The center is a response to a lack of knowledge about African-American art and history, and a dearth of Black art spaces in Milwaukee, said Mutope Johnson, a Milwaukee artist and the center's project manager.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: MPS' future depends on governors race, and more news for Bronzeville