NOTE: Steve Scaffidi and WTMJ have invited members of Milwaukee Public Schools, including Milwaukee Vincent High School, to come on Steve's show to respond. Listen to James Wigderson's full interview with Scaffidi below.
An article by a Wisconsin-based conservative writer about Milwaukee Public Schools funding decisions using the words "little convicts" has led to a firestorm of criticism, accusing the author of racism, inaccuracy and ignorance.
Author James Widgerson of RightWisconsin (owned by WTMJ and parent company E.W. Scripps until 2017) responded on the Steve Scaffidi Show saying he feels some regret of context which was misinterpreted. Wigderson defended his point about MPS funding decisions for upgrades to the Vincent High School stadium in the face of a school he says is miserably failing students.
The paragraph which included Wigderson's controversial words is below, and it attempts to reference Deontay Long, a high school basketball player sentenced to probation for his part in a robbery. It does not use his name.
The new stadium is part of an $11 million improvement in athletic facilities for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), presumably so the little convicts can have the best facilities before being sent to the penitentiary.
This is beyond offensive, pure ignorance and complete 'BS.' MPS is home to 77,000 children. These children, and their families, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.— LaTonya Johnson (@StateSenLaTonya) September 11, 2018
Are @620wtmj and @WTMJSteve trying to lose listeners? https://t.co/Gg9sCvY9Fq
I guess I was 1 of those "little convicts" that $$ shouldn't have been wasted on huh? This kind of racist undertone is how the right communicates. This rhetoric is how Trump and the Republican Party continue to rally their white supremacist and base and cannot be met with silence— David C. Crowley (@DavidCrowleyWI) September 11, 2018
They expect their casual racism to be excused.— Mandela Barnes (@TheOtherMandela) September 11, 2018
The governor's allies have gone full southern strategy. https://t.co/JOuTXCb9Yy
"That was clearly not what I was doing there," claimed Wigderson,a longtime critic of MPS.
"I will continue to stand up for the minority children trapped in those schools and demand they get a better education."
Milwaukee Public Schools also sent a statement about Wigderson's column through its Twitter account.
Before his interview with Wigderson on Wednesday, Scaffidi shared his opinions.
"Words do matter. When we're talking about a situation as critical and as sensitive as MPS is...these aren't easy problems to fix. Rhetoric, hate, whether intended or otherwise, is something we have to weigh when we write, when we speak. Escalating a situation is often not helpful."