Part of what makes the Milwaukee experience noteworthy is thatthe push for multicultural education came from both teachers andparents at the grassroots level and from top administrators inthe district's central office. Further, the school board supportedthe effort.
"We felt that as the world was changing, Milwaukee was changing,and the school district was changing. We wanted to make sure ourchildren weren't getting left behind in connection to the largersociety," said Joyce Mallory, a former school board member.
At the grassroots level, a key role was played by district-funded,teacher-led councils, which allowed classroom teachers from acrossthe city to network and share best practices. A particularly importantrole was played by the Multicultural Curriculum Council, whichgrew out of an in-service in January 1989 by Asa G. Hilliard III,a noted author on issues of race and education, who is now a professorof urban education at Georgia State University.
Although there is no one date that marks the beginning of themulticultural movement in Milwaukee, many point to that in-serviceby Hilliard as a key event. Then-Superintendent Robert Peterkinsupported the move for multiculturalism and initiated two yearsof meetings and brainstorming sessions by teachers, parents, administrators,and community leaders on developing the district's curriculumgoals.
In the 1991-92 school year, the Milwaukee district adopted itsK-12 Teaching and Learning Initiatives. The first goal stated:"Students will project anti-racist, anti-biased attitudes throughtheir participation in a multilingual, multi-ethnic, culturallydiverse curriculum."