Madison kids can thank Scott Walker and Robin Vos

One City is succeeding despite progressives

Kaleem Caire is living the dream and more disadvantaged children, minority and low income, will get a chance at their share of the American dream, thanks to his refusal to allow woke Madison to choose teachers unions over kids.

Let us be clear about this. His One City Schools would not be in business today were it not for Scott Walker, Robin Vos, Scott Fitzgerald and other Republicans. After the Madison school district said no to Kaleem’s proposed charter high school, Republicans created a work-around: reformers like Mr. Caire could get their charter from an independent University of Wisconsin office — its head appointed by Republicans.

Ten years later, One City Schools — now serving 167 mostly children of color — is buying an office building in Monona, visible from the Beltline on the WPS insurance company campus, where it will become a 4K through high school public charter school — thanks to a grant from philanthropist Pleasant Rowland. Kaleem himself explains his plans here.

This outlined area will be the new One City campus. (In addition to a remaining smaller school elsewhere.) The main building covers 157,000 square feet on four levels, including one level that is partially underground. One City will also own the 714-stall parking deck and 13.5 acres of land. The outdoors provides enough space for a playground, while the woodlands and nearby marsh will support science exploration and related activities.

Despite the teachers union

Your correspondent was present at the school board meeting that voted down 5-2 Mr. Caire’s proposed Madison Prep high school in December 2011. We knew the fix was in when the teachers union boss, John Matthews, whispered in a few school board members’ ears, then departed. (Read & Weep.) 

The WI State Journal picks up the account

Caire didn’t give up. Instead of the middle and high school he had envisioned, Caire launched a preschool on Madison’s South Side, an area that badly needed more child care options, especially for young single mothers earning lower wages. One City Early Learning Center gradually expanded into a public elementary charter school called One City Schools. Republican state leaders allowed the University of Wisconsin System to authorize One City, independent of the local school district.

Caire plans to incorporate many of the ideas he had for Madison Prep. …

  • Cater to teenagers of color,
  • Offer a diverse teaching staff,
  • High expectations,
  • Longer school days,
  • Year-round schedule,
  • Same-sex classes,
  • Uniforms and
  • Required extracurricular activities.

“He even wanted to grade parents on their involvement at the school.” 

Call the roll of shame

The five who voted teachers union over kids deserve everlasting opprobrium: Ed Hughes, Marj  Passman, Beth Moss, Arelene Silviera, and Maya Cole — all good progressives. Most of them continue to stump for the status quo as members of GRUMPS. Grandparents United for Madison Public Schools remains anti-charter, anti-choice, labor union first.

The two good hearts who voted for Madison Prep were Lucy Mathiak and the only Black man on the board at the time, James Howard.

Blaska’s Bottom Line: Kaleem Caire may be Madison’s most indispensable person.

What do YOU think?

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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12 Responses to Madison kids can thank Scott Walker and Robin Vos

  1. Kevin S Wymore says:

    The five school board members who voted against Kaleem Caire’s vision are welcome to explain their vote here.

    Mr. Blaska is nothing if not a stalwart in favor of free expression.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sandra skinrud says:

      do you really think any of those folks bother with this website? Seriously? They live in their echo chamber, you live in yours.


  2. Lowell Mays says:

    Something in educat8on goes right. Beautiful and i sincerely hope it goes well.


  3. SeizeTheDay says:

    The Madison School Board, in that infamous vote to turn down Kaleem Caire’s first proposal, were guilty of the worst kind of racism — they basically patted Kaleem Caire on the head and said, “There, there. We well-educated, financially comfortable, smug white liberals know — far better than you do — what you people need for your kids.”

    Apparently what students of color needed, in their view, was “more of the same”: the same yawning achievement gap, the same frustrations felt by their parents, the same failure of the Madison schools to make a difference, and the same fading dreams for the future of another generation of students. And their racism goes even further: they lower the expectations for the behavior and the scholastic potential of these kids, implying that the kids are not capable of more. We all know that when you lower the expectations, lower performance is what you often get. This applies to any students, not just students of color. The most cruel form of racism that liberal educators engage in — which you see at work in so many schools today — is to slam the door shut on kids’ futures by not expecting more.

    This is the “racism of soft expectations”, and it is everywhere.

    We need to acknowledge that there are times when some of our public schools are simply not the best fit. This is not necessarily the fault of the teachers, if they are in a school when their efforts to raise expectations — both behaviorally and scholastically — are not supported by their administrators. But it is clear that at One City, they are not afraid of higher expectations: the school days are longer; extracurriculars are required; the same-sex classes are year-round; the kids wear uniforms; there is more diversity on the school staff. I’m guessing that the students are expected to treat the teachers with respect, and that the truancy rate is lower. I’m guessing that parents are expected to be more engaged. And I’m definitely guessing that kids are not roaming the halls during classtime as they are in some of our chaotic public schools now.

    I nearly wept with frustration years ago when I read about the Board’s condescending treatment of Kaleem Caire the first time. Another frustration was the blatant dishonesty at work: no one was admitting that public schools often see charter schools as a threat to their funding.

    Meanwhile, the dishonesty and the racism of soft expectations live on. But thanks to Kaleem Caire, there is hope and a future for a growing number of Madison students. Here’s hoping that some of us might be moved to support this outstanding effort with our donations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • georgessson says:

      “I nearly wept with frustration years ago when I read about the Board’s condescending treatment of Kaleem Caire the first time.”

      ME, TOO !

      “Another frustration was the blatant dishonesty at work: no one was admitting that public schools often see charter schools as a threat to their funding.”

      TRUE DAT, you bet’cha.

      Perhaps, maybe, sure hope so, that Caire succeeds w/ his goals. Lord knows the DPI stats fell even further since 2012….


  4. Jonathan Barry says:

    David, you’re right on here. But let’s not minimize Kaleem’s perseverance–which I know you’re not doing. Madison’s ‘progressives’ are only at their best when one agrees with them. They are not really liberal either—merely illiberal.


    • Batman says:

      Progressive is an oxymoron just like Antifa is and this is not by accident because it is meant to deceive. Regressive is more accurate.

      Second wave regressives are some of the most self-centered ideologues one will ever encounter. It is all about them and their agenda regardless of how stupid and destructive their policies and philosophy are. Their minds are so refractory to correction that one can easily mistake them as cultists and therefore one should keep that in mind when attempting to reason with them, plus they get really really stoned on power.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Bill says:

    Some observations while I drink my coffee and get ready for work.

    How many or what percentage of people in Madison work for the Federal, State, County, University, City of Madison or the MMSD? Then combine those numbers or percentage with those who have a college education and work for places like Exact Science, Epic or another large employer who pays above average wages. Combine those numbers with the number of people who live or get a good chunk of their income or housing assistance from the government.

    Then compare those numbers or percentage to the number of people who live and work in this town, pay their own way through life, who don’t have a college education, don’t work for the government at any level and don’t work for the MMSD.

    The problem in this town is not race. It is a form of elitism by those who are college educated and work for the government, or the MMSD who are also in positions of power in this community. People who make the decisions that affect the rest of us. Like the people on the school board or the city council and other government bodies.

    They just don’t get it. They don’t have to. It is almost impossible to get fired or laid off from a government job once you have past your probation. They always have a nice pension to look forward to at the end of their career.

    So they don’t see the problems that the rest of us have who are not college educated or work for the government or the MMSD.

    They don’t see the problems that people have who work 2-3 jobs scrubbing floors, cleaning toilets, doing construction work, stocking shelves, working in a factory and so on. They don’t see the desire that some of those people have to make sure their kids get a good education so they don’t have to work like their parents did all their lives. They don’t know the hope some of those parents have that their kids will hopefully have a better life.

    They think that the answer to every problem in society is for them to continue to provide for what ever the group of the day they think is downtrodden but never at the expense of those who are in the government class.

    I’ve worked with my hands all my life. Hard work will pay the bills, but education is key to having a better life. Why did those people turn Kaleem Caire down, because they have never had to live in his world.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Arthur Emery says:

    Will they escape the anti racism teacher training of the Madison public schools?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tom PITA says:

    Thoughts, prayers and $$ that Mr. Caire succeeds beyond his wildest dreams.


  8. sandra skinrud says:

    I hope Kaleem’s plan works. But I also hope he can see fit to admit special needs students and students with juvenile issues that could benefit from tighter structure than the public schools or parochial schools can provide.


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