Kaleem Caire, via email: Chris Rickert:
At some point in the next couple months, members of the Madison School Board are almost certain to be in the unlucky position of having to decide whether to admit what is most fairly characterized as a colossal failure.
Approving a charter for Urban League of Greater Madison President Kaleem Caire’s all-boy, mostly black, non-union Madison Preparatory Academy will make it clear that, when it comes to many black schoolchildren, teachers have failed to teach, parents have failed to parent, and the rest of us have failed to do anything about either.
Reject the charter and risk the false hope that comes from thinking that all these children need is another program and more “outreach.” A tweak here and a tweak there and we can all just keep on keeping on. Never mind that the approach hasn’t seemed to work so far, and that if past is prologue, we already know this story’s end.
Caire’s model would be a radical departure for Madison. The district’s two existing charter schools — Wright Middle School and Nuestro Mundo — don’t exactly trample on hallowed educational ground. They employ union teachers and have the same number of school days and teaching hours as any other non-charter and “broadly follow our district policies in the vast majority of ways,” said district spokesman Ken Syke.
I want to thank Kaleem Caire for coming home to Madison and making positive changes. If anyone can make an all-male charter school happen here, he can. The statistics in the article may be alarming to some, but not as alarming to the students and parents who are living these statistics.
I support integration, but how can it be true integration when the education gaps are so large? Who is benefiting? In my eyes, true integration in the school system would support the same quality of education, the same achievement expectations, the same disciplinary measures and so on.
Numbers don’t lie, and what they tell us is that we need to go another route to ensure educational success for black males. If that means opening a charter school to intervene, then let’s do it!
Instead of the headline “All-male charter school a tough sell,” imagine this one, “Loss to society: Madison schools graduated only 52 percent of black male students in 2009.” Then the reaction to the Urban League’s plan to start a charter school intended to boost minority achievement might have been different.
Reaction in the article discussed all the reasons why people will or should oppose the idea of an all-male charter school, despite its benefits. Let’s not talk about why we should be aghast at the cultural performance disparities in Madison’s schools. And let’s not talk about what we lose as a society when almost half of all black males attending Madison schools fail to graduate.
The comments of John Matthews, head of the Madison teachers union, on charter schools are hyperbole. Saying that the Madison School Board will have no control is a cover for the union not having control.
We can’t argue the importance of good teachers. But the idea that a degree in education, and a union membership, make you the only one capable of performing this role is specious. All of us are teachers, or have been taught meaningfully by individuals with teaching skills. Are we going to let successful teachers teach, or are we going to let their union dictate?
According to Carlo D’Este’s book “Warlord: A Life of Winston Churchill at War,” Churchill, during a lull in his career, learned bricklaying. Hearing this, the British Trade Union Council, in a public relations gesture, offered him a Master’s card.
Madison Urban League President Kaleem Caire applied for a charter school for males because only 52 percent of black males graduate in Madison schools, while black males are suspended significantly more than the majority white students.
Before anyone responds, they should answer two questions:
- Are you concerned about these statistics?
- What are you doing about it?
Much more on the proposed IB Charter school: Madison Preparatory Academy.