Supreme Court limits EPA and Muskego blocks book on Japanese internment camps

·3 min read

Supreme Court rules against EPA effort to regulate power plant emissions in major climate suit

Muskego educators stopped from teaching book about WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans

  • District leaders have denied interview requests and issued a vague statement about why the book, “When the Emperor Was Divine” by Julie Otsuka, isn't moving forward as part of the Accelerated English curriculum. They said staff had to start over their process for choosing a new book for the class. In recent weeks, more than 100 parents and others have signed a petition asking the district to accept the book. National organizations and Otsuka herself have weighed in about the value of the text.

  • Parents in attendance at the committee meeting where the action was taken, including Ann Zielke and Alison Hapeman, who support the book, told the Journal Sentinel that committee member Laurie Kontney said she thought staff chose the book because it was "diverse" and that should not be the basis of choosing it. Kontney, in an email, said her words have been “spun to meet a narrative” and she wants to see a wider pool of book options considered. She also said she didn't think the book was rigorous enough to prepare students for the Advanced Placement English course and exam, arguing the book doesn't appear on lists of top books referenced on the exam or recommended for the AP course.

  • Of the three-person board committee, Tracy Blair was the only committee member to talk to the Journal Sentinel. Blair said her problem with the book was that she "didn’t feel it was a very good book,” was “too poetic,” and had bad reviews online. She also didn’t like that the characters didn’t have names. “It was just a hard book to read,” Blair said in an interview. “She had too much poetry in it.”

  • Otsuka, the book's author, said it's important for students to learn from the past and consider how racism against Asian Americans persists today. “Given the level of hatred that Asian Americans are experiencing in this current moment — every time we step out onto the street we are fearful — I think it is more important than ever that students learn about this country’s racist past," Otsuka said in a statement provided to the Journal Sentinel.

Did someone share this newsletter with you? Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

The Money

KATHLEEN GALLAGHER: Wisconsin homeowners who want to install solar panels face a fight with We Energies. Why the utility continues to win.

KOHLER: Wisconsin's Supreme Court has ruled that a conservation group has no legal standing to challenge a DNR land swap that would allow Kohler Co. to develop another golf course along Lake Michigan.

The Fun Stuff

PHILANTHROPY: With a $440 million endowment, the new Milwaukee-based Ruth Foundation for the Arts will be a force in philanthropy.

AIRBNB: The glass-walled MetalLark Tower is one of Wisconsin's best Airbnb rentals.

The Games

BUCKS: Bobby Portis agreed to return to the Bucks on a 4-year, $49 million contract and the Bucks signed sharp-shooter Joe Ingles in free agency.

BIG TEN: The news Thursday that Pacific 12 anchors USC and UCLA will join the Big Ten in time for the 2024-2025 academic year sent tremors from coast to coast. Adding USC and UCLA would leave the Big Ten at 16 schools, with more schools being targeted according to sources. One prime target remains Notre Dame.

BREWERS: A late rally comes up just short as the Brewers drop one 8-7 to the Pirates.

Today's Weather

A chance of morning rain followed by partly sunny skies and a high of 76.

Not yet a Journal Sentinel subscriber? Please consider signing up at

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Muskego blocks book on Japanese internment camps