Is this the best Madison’s public schools can do?

‘Cheatham was a failure’

Today’s blog excerpts Kaleem Caire’s social media thread in the wake of his letter, co-signed by other local black leaders, expressing disappointment that Matthew Gutierrez of Texas was chosen as new superintendent of Madison WI schools over their preferred candidate, Taylor Eric Thomas of Georgia. Caire expresses frustration over the virulent Progressive Dane/Madison Teachers Inc. faction of Madison progressivism that defeated him for school board last year.

Other signatories were Pastor Marcus Allen, Ray Allen, Ruben Anthony, Pastor Joseph Baring,  Carola Gaines, Pastor Alex Gee, Greg Jones, Kirbie Mack, Vanessa McDowell, John Odom, Teresa Sanders and Yolanda Shelton Morris.

Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick is the very woke, Derail the Jail enemy of police in schools, ally of Ali Muldrow, Brandi Grayson, Freedom Inc., et cetera.

Yet another example of how identity politics is roiling education here in Madison and nationwide. 

MMSD board 2019

Madison Board of Education: Ananda Mirilli, Cris Carusi, Gloria Reyes, Kate Toews, Ali Muldrow, Savion Castro, Nikki Vander Meulen

Kaleem CaireJust because we disagree with the Board of Education’s choice for Superintendent doesn’t mean we are being divisive. If the reference here is referring to perceived division along racial lines because Mr. Gutierrez is Latino and we are Black, well, several Latino leaders who were a part of the same community interview that Madison’s African American pastors arranged (and that I was present for as well) also felt that Dr. Guettierez was not the most qualified finalist candidate for the position.

We also felt that the finalist candidate pool did not yield the caliber of candidate that our school district needs overall. Many of us felt Dr. Thomas was the most qualified candidate; however, some of us preferred that the Board of Education reopen the search process and try again.

Furthermore, the only time many of us were involved in the hiring process was when local black ministers requested that we have the opportunity to meet the finalist candidates. This Board did not come to us. Given our collective experience and background in education in Madison (and some of us nationally), you would think the MMSD Board of Education would have thought to include us in this unprecedented community involved process. If you wonder why we are concerned, read the piece I wrote in last month’s Madison365, this isn’t about Mr. Guettierez’ race. Instead, it is about our concern for the present and future of our children – and yours.

Jeff Spitzer-Resnick — But why take this punch at the new superintendent long after the decision was made? Even if you disagree with the decision, why not welcome him with your wisdom instead of chastising him before he starts?

… I just don’t understand your timing. Believe me, I think the hiring process sucked. But he was chosen unanimously by the most diverse board we’ve ever had. I’m going to wish him the best and I’ll be the first to critique him if he doesn’t t turn this district into a high performing district for all our students. Cheatham was a failure. We can’t have more children’s lives wasted.

Kaleem Caire — Many of your friends have kicked me in my teeth and have called me crazy names for 10 years, even while our children are failing miserably in our city, even as I have been working my tail off to help our children succeed. Where was your bling love for me and appeals for kindness to your friends during all of that? 


Kaleem Caire

You have to look no further than my last school board campaign to see how terrible your friends talked about me. So…you are concerned about a letter we send about a person who will be paid $250,000 for a job he sought and in a district where our children are being left further behind decade after decade year, and are suggesting that we give open arms to someone we don’t know and who hasn’t shown himself to be a transformational leader in his previous assignments?

Most of the systemic and large scale educational opportunities that Children of color have had in our city over the last 25 years have had my fingerprints on them. Where is the kindness and where were all the open arms after all of that Jeff? But I don’t get upset about it. I suck it up and keep going. I hope Dr. Guettierez will listen to our dissent and be the type of dynamic, courageous and transformational leader that his resume does not suggest he will be. Our expectations are appropriately very high, as they should be. …

It’s on him to decide what’s next. We will be prepared to offer support if he is willing to bold and transformational.

David Blaska — Kaleem Caire, my friendly acquaintance: You know that I hold you in the highest regard but was puzzled by the timing of this letter. Term papers were due January 31, when the new sooper was selected.

You say you will support the new superintendent “if he is willing to bold and transformational.” It is imperative that you spell out what that would look like.

Gregory J Markle — Concerning the candidate pool. A fair question to ask is: Why didn’t Madison generate a better pool of candidates?

What do YOU think?

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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12 Responses to Is this the best Madison’s public schools can do?

  1. (T)he most diverse board we’ve ever had contains ONE (1) Y-Chromosomal Unit, and that only by default.

    In which fact-based Universe is this NOT a BAD freakin’ joke?

    The Gotch


  2. patrickmoloughlin says:

    Disappointed to see Caire and Ray Allen’s signatures on a letter so blatantly racist. They are allowed to have their doubts and misgivings about the hire, but that letter contains self assured convictions that Guettierez will absolutely fail. And why is that? Because his resume has no “proof” that he will succeed. Oh yeah, and he’s the wrong color.They don’t express doubts. They make a DECLARATION that he can’t possibly succeed. And who can? Why that black fellow from Georgia, of course. Nothing be concerned about there, right?.Oh, that unfortunate audit of his finances was politically motivated of course. And since it came from bad people, we shouldn’t even care about the results. No comments about the veracity of the charges, just write it off as political.


  3. ana says:

    Workshops for Administrators
    The new superintendent can learn to improve the schools by attending workshops under the heading of “moderately intelligent people can hold more than one idea in their heads at one time.” Teachers in Madison have attended so very many workshops in which they have learned about white privilege, restorative justice, and cultural differences in behavioral expectations. Some of the information was very valuable. But no matter how well informed a teacher becomes, she/he cannot eliminate poverty, cure severe mental illness, or teach a classroom filled with self regulated children while the seriously disturbed continually disrupt and bully.

    It is the turn of the new superintendent and other administrators to attend simultaneous ideas workshops. For example it would have been good for Cheatham and her enablers to learn that the “”N” word can be used to hurt someone, but sometimes is useful as a teaching tool to prevent racial nastiness. If these two ideas had been embraced Madison would not have faced national shaming for the out of context firing of an African American educator. Workshops needed. Learn that one can care for the mentally ill AND have classrooms free of physical or psychological abuse. Learn nuance. Learn context.

    1. Three tier system: Invite behavioral specialists from Minneapolis to speak of their three tier system for behavior problems and inadequate progress. (Tier 3   Intensive and individualized
    Interventions. “Intensive interventions are for students who have not made expected growth in response to primary or secondary interventions. Instruction is intensive, supplemental, and delivered in small groups or at times, one on one.”)
    2. Special Education: Learn how to truthfully follow the present special education law that expects placement in “the least restrictive environment”. Whatever the diagnosis, (autism, dyslexia, emotional disturbance, defiant disorder) when behavior has not been regulated by psychologists and social workers, the regular classroom is not a proper placement. A self contained classroom, One on one learning or home schooling often is the least restrictive environment for a child who constantly has to be begged to stop destructive behaviors. Get real. Love is not all you need.
    3. No community is a monolith: learn how to serve the needs of ALL children, including low income students yearning for an exit from dangerous public schools through vouchers and charter schools. Learn how to keep those kids if you can.


  4. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    “If these two ideas had been embraced ….” Unfortunately, when all the space in your head is taken up by ONE idea–Racism Is Everywhere–there’s no room for a second idea, let alone a third or forth or …


    • Ana says:

      Yes. “Moderately intelligent”. Keep hope alive for a normal IQ, non careerist,
      person able to embrace numbers and ignore to drop programs that are not working, able to live in reality


  5. George's Son says:

    ALL of these make sense, especially Ana’s forays into alternative research beyond just claiming racism. But once upon a time, parental control and family values were around and thus not many troubled kids in classes. Students shared the responsibility w/ parents (or not) for their success. Crying wolf (racism) at every turn has its consequences, and none of them are beneficial to students, or their teachers.


  6. Ana says:

    True. But there still are parents, of all races, who raise caring and respectful children, but they are being bullied by those who blame all problems on racism.


    • George's Son says:

      So true Ana, Yes there are good parents out there. Always have been. However, as you point out, they get lost in the shuffle. And their kids suffer at school when they only want to learn and succeed. MMSD is on a roll to take them ALL down as well.

      In many neighborhoods, folks are admonished to accept that “cultural” differences, including foul public language and aggressive behavior, are OK now.

      The question remains: who/what will affect kids, schools and neighborhoods the most? Perhaps a decent stress-free education is a start.


  7. Tom Paine says:

    BS……..from all quarters. Worse, total ignernce. Dis ain’t rocket science or advanced options trading.

    So where is the study or the report where the School Board interviewed “non-performing” students of color ———— to ask them why they have failed? {none}


    Where is the study or report where the School Board interviewed members of National Honor Society in each HSchool? {none}

    What rationale do poor students voice that explains their perceptions of collective and individual failures? mark DK for Don’t Know


    How do those answers compare with those of NHS members who, attending the same school, were able to progress in an outstanding manner? What behavior patterns of the NHS members are not shared by those who languish as members of the “achievement gap”? mark DK for Don’t Know

    How do the NHS students explain the “achievement gap”? Why hasn’t the School Board interviewed those whose performance is outstanding? mark DK for Don’t Know

    So, is the Sch Bd ignernt or what? My vote –> IGNERT, closed-minded, virtue-signalers who are clueless and will remain so until they interview the students.

    No problem….it is all a song and dance of fools. Freddie Prinze….said…..Not my problem.
    And he was right, it AIN”T.
    I be laughin all hours of da day…….dey don’t want no education or discipline………..and they will get what they want. Victory is denoted by low academic scores.


  8. Pingback: The school super: Cold feet or Madison politics? | Blaska Policy Werkes

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