The University of Wisconsin Press

Education / History / Political Science / Urban Studies


Seeds of Crisis
Public Schooling in Milwaukee since 1920
Edited by John L. Rury and Frank A. Cassell

Beset by such controversies as whether they have the right to search students’ lockers for guns and drugs, big city schools are making adjustments unimaginable in earlier eras, when detention was still sufficient for keeping order. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is one city trying to cope with the educational challenges of the twentieth century. Seeds of Crisis examines the ways in which these challenges have affected the politics of education, the curriculum, the work of teachers and principals, and the everyday lives of students in Milwaukee.

Since the problems facing urban schools are similar from city to city, a close and careful look at the historical roots and origins of the situation in Milwaukee can serve as a model for those working on solutions in other places. The contributors touch on topics from curriculum to desegregation in the Milwaukee public schools, setting the schools’ histories within a broader context of the changing urban scene and educational policy issues. Taken together, these essays offer an unusual perspective on the development of a major urban school system as it prepares to face the future.

“Not since the 1960s have policy analysts and academics been as interested in the development of urban social policy and the operation of urban institutions—including schools—as they are now. But only a few have looked systematically at the historical development of urban institutions in particular places as a way to understand their failure to prevent the growth of urban poverty. This volume takes a step in the right direction, providing a detailed analysis of how schools in one city responded to the social and economic changes that transformed urban life after World War II.”—Harvey Kantor, University of Utah

John L. Rury is associate professor at the School for New Learning, DePaul University. He is the author of Education and Women’s Work and editor of the American Educational Research Journal, Section on Social and Institutional Analysis. Frank A. Cassell a longtime faculty member and administrator at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, is presently professor of history and vice-provost at Roosevelt University, where he is dean of the Albert A. Robin campus. He is the author of Merchant Congressman in the Young Republic.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

December 1993

LC: 93-018827 LA
384 pp. 6 x 9
2 maps, 2 figs.

Book icon
Paper $19.95 x
ISBN 978-0-299-13814-1
Shopping cart ADD TO CART
  Review cart contents
Secure checkout

The 1993 cloth edition of this book is out of print, but the paperback is still available.

Seeds of Crisis goes beyond almost every other work on the history of twentieth-century urban education. The Milwaukee public school system provides a good example of the decline of public schools in major American cities, since it followed the general pattern of rapid growth and educational prominence in the 1920s and a slow educational collapse in the 1960s–1980s. The essays here illuminate that pattern quite clearly and offer thoughtful analyses of why it took place.”
—Jeffrey Mirel, Northern Illinois University

Home | Books | Journals | Events | Textbooks | Authors | Related | Search | Order | Contact

If you have trouble accessing any page in this web site, contact our Web manager.

Updated June 25, 2012

© 2012, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System