I’ve added the following audio recordings to the 2019 Madison School Board Candidate page. WORT FM Candidate discussion 2.5.2019 Cris Carusi and Kaleem Caire [mp3 audio] Mr. Caire: “If we don’t reach our benchmarks in five years, they can shut us down”. There is no public school in Madison that has closed because only 7 … Continue reading 2019 Madison School Board Candidate Events; Kaleem Caire on Accountability
Chris Rickert: Caire, 47, is a Madison native who in 2011 mounted a contentious and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get the School Board to approve what was initially conceived as an all-male public charter school serving those who have long struggled in Madison’s traditional public schools: poor children and children of color. In an interview, … Continue reading Kaleem Caire adds to political diversity in Madison School Board races (2019)
Negassi Tesfamichael: “I’ve been working in the field ever since,” Caire said in an interview with the Cap Times. “The number one thing is that I’ve been really frustrated about how little attention is focused on young people in our city and country.” One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early Learning Center, is … Continue reading Kaleem Caire announces run for Madison School Board (2019)
Over the last 20 years, I have been a guests on several dozen local and national radio and television talk shows across the U.S., and abroad. Tom Joyner, Joe Madison, George Curry, Laura Ingraham, Tavis Smiley, Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh, Juan Williams, Armstrong Williams, Sean Hannity & Alan Colmes, Jean Feraca, Vicki McKenna, Carol Koby, … Continue reading Kaleem Caire’s Weekly Talk Show (Tuesdays, 1:00p.m. CST)
Derrell talks with Kaleem Caire current president of The Madison Urban League about an upcoming event to raise awareness in the graduation rate in the African American population.
Educate to Elevate is an education series that brings together local and national leaders to talk about their efforts, share lessons-learned and join us in rallying the Greater Madison community to support the education of our children and our schools.
Previously on Bring It!, we reported on the Left’s campaign of vilification directed at Kaleem Caire.
The Left must discredit Mr. Caire for daring to disrupt the comfortable “Madison Way” by proposing a non-union charter school catering to students of color. He must be politically neutered for pointing out this liberal bastion’s failure to graduate even half of its black students.
But how to disparage the president of the Madison Urban League, the founder of One Hundred Black Men of Madison, and the 2001 recipient of the city of Madison’s Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award?
By the usual and convenient method of tying him to that Great Right-Wing Conspiracy in the Sky. The man for that job is one Allen Ruff. In comments before the school board and on his blog, avidly picked up and repeated by other liberal/progressive outlets, the Madison-based historian and social activist has been spinning an intricate web of guilt by association and seven degrees of separation in order to out Mr. Caire as a closet conservative, a secret tea partier, and a suspect capitalist.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
First of a series
The recent controversy over the Urban League of Greater Madison’s proposal for a Madison Preparatory Academy has been framed primarily as a local story pitting contending interests within the city. The charter school’s promoters, supporters and mainstream media have portrayed the ULGM’s CEO and President, Kaleem Caire as the Prep’s public champion and native son returned home on a mission to help “close the achievement gap,” the racial disparities in Madison’s schools.
But Caire’s well-established national ties, spanning more than a decade, to numbers of conservative foundations, think tanks and individuals bent on privatizing public school coffers, creating for-profit schools, and destroying teachers’ unions, certainly suggest that there is more to the story.
Caire has consistently dismissed any suggestion of his links to various right-wing efforts. On occasion he has admitted some distant connections but asserted his independence by saying, “They have their agenda, but we have ours.” Lately, he has taken to waving off critic’s references to such ties as nothing more than “guilt-by-association crap” or part of a “conspiracy” and “whisper campaign” coming from those trying to discredit the Mad Prep Academy project. However, a readily traceable history reveals some truth to the charges.
Madison Urban League President Kaleem Caire fought hard to win approval of his Madison Prep project. But the Madison School Board ultimately rejected a plan that would have steered tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into a project that board members felt lacked sufficient oversight and accountability.
The response of Caire and his fellow Madison Prep advocates was to suggest a variety of moves: the filing of a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, or perhaps a request for state intervention to allow the project to go forward without state approval.
We would suggest another approach.
Caire has succeeded in garnering a good deal of support for Madison Prep. He could capitalize on that support and make a run for the School Board.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Changing the school board would either require: patience (just two of seven seats: Lucy Mathiak, who is not running after two terms and Arlene Silveira, who apparently is seeking a third term) are up in April, 2012 or a more radical approach via the current Wisconsin method (and Oakland): recalls. Winning the two seats may not be sufficient to change the Board, given the 5-2 no vote. Perhaps the “momentum”, if realized, might sway a vote or two?
Perhaps the TAG complaint illustrates another approach, via the courts and/or different government agencies.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
Kaleem Caire has only been back in Madison for less than two years, but he sure has grabbed our attention.
Caire didn’t waste any time after coming home from a successful private sector career on the East Coast to be the new president for the Urban League of Greater Madison, starting to shake up the local establishment more or less immediately upon arrival. He has been pushing a bold proposal to attack the long-standing issue of minority underachievement in the Madison public schools. His idea for the Madison Preparatory Academy was vetted well in Nathan Comp’s cover story for Isthmus last week.
For well over a year now, Caire has been shuttling between the district administration, Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI) union leaders, school board members, parents, editorial boards and community meetings fighting for this idea.
In response to union and district administration concerns, he changed the proposal to make the school an “instrumentality” of the district, meaning it would be under school board control and be staffed by MTI member teachers. But that proposal came in at a cost for the district of $13 million over five years. Superintendent Dan Nerad, for whom I have a lot of respect, told the League that he couldn’t support anything over $5 million.
“Come on Madison, we can do better than this!”
That’s Kaleem Caire. He said it not recently but in 1998 in an op-ed questioning why his hometown wasn’t paying more attention to the poor educational outcomes and high incarceration rates of black males.
“I’m asking Madison to be your best self and get this done!”
That’s also Caire, in an interview this week about his proposal for a publicly funded charter school designed to improve educational outcomes of low-income minority students.
What hasn’t changed, then to now, is Caire’s conviction that Madison’s public schools are failing minority students and his willingness to force issues that cause some distress to the city’s white liberal establishment.
What has changed is Caire’s clout. He returned to his hometown in 2010 after a decade long detour with his family to the East Coast. As president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, and public face for the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, his profile has skyrocketed. But with it has come criticism and skepticism over a plan that challenges Madison’s longstanding commitment to inclusive learning.
Based on current educational and social conditions, the fate of boys of color is uncertain. African American and Latino boys are grossly over-represented among young men failing to achieve academic success and are at greater risk of dropping out of school. Boys in general lag behind girls on most indicators of student achievement.
- In 2009, just 52% of African American boys and 52% of Latino boys graduated on-time from Madison Metropolitan School District compared to 81% of Asian boys and 88% of White boys.
- In the class of 2010, just 7% of African American seniors and 18% of Latino seniors were deemed “college-ready” by ACT, makers of the standardized college entrance exam required for all Wisconsin universities.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men (Madison Prep) is a public charter school being developed by the Urban League of Greater Madison. Madison Prep will serve as a catalyst for change and opportunity, particularly young men of color. Its mission is to prepare scholars for success at a four year college by instilling excellence, pride, leadership and service. A proposed non-instrumentality charter school located in Madison, Wisconsin and to be authorized by the Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison Prep will serve 420 students in grades 6 through 12 when it reaches full enrollment in 2017-2018.
Watch a video of the speech, here.
Caire believes the Madison community must first address its at-risk population in a radically different way to level the playing field before fundamental change can come.
“Madison schools don’t know how to educate African Americans,” says Caire. “It’s not that they can’t. Most of the teachers could, and some do, valiantly. But the system is not designed for that to happen.”
The system is also not designed for the 215 annual school days and 5 p.m. end times that Madison Prep proposes. That, and the fact that he wants the school to choose teachers based on their specific skill sets and cultural backgrounds, is why Caire is seeking to proceed without teachers union involvement.
“Ultimately,” he says, “the collective bargaining agreement dictates the operations of schools and teaching and learning in [the Madison school district]. Madison Prep will require much more autonomy.”
Many aspects of Caire’s proposed school seem rooted in his own life experience. Small class sizes, just like at St. James. Uniforms, just like the Navy. Majority African American and Latino kids, eliminating the isolation he grew up with. Meals at school and co-curricular activities rather than extracurricular, so that poor students are not singled out or left out.
Teachers the students can identify with. Boys only, in the hopes of fostering the sensitive, supportive male peer groups so critical to Caire’s evolving sense of self over the years.
Much more on Kaleem, here.
CT: How will you bring boys who are already behind a couple of years or more up to grade level so they are fully prepared for college?
KC: One, we will have a longer school day, a longer school year. They will start about 7:30 and end about 5 o’clock. Tutoring will be built into our school program. It will be built into each schedule based on your academic performance. We’re going to use ability grouping to tackle kids who are severely behind, who need more education. We’ll do that if we can afford it by requiring Saturday school for young people who really need even additional enrichment and so we’re going to do whatever it takes so we make sure they get what they need.
CT: What kind of commitment will Madison Prep require of parents or guardians?
KC: They have to sign a participation contract. These are non-binding contracts but it will clearly spell out what their expectations are of us and our expectations are of them. Parents will be given a grade for participation on the child’s report card. There are ways for ALL parents to be involved. You know, some people have asked, ‘What will you do if parents won’t show up to a child’s performance review?’ Literally, we’ll go set up our tables outside their houses and it will be kind of embarrassing but we’ll do it because we won’t allow our kids to be left behind.
CT: You’ve said you’d like to see more flexibility and innovation. Does that mean you’d like to run this school without a union contract?
Caire was one of four main presenters, the others being Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad, the dean of the UW-Madison School of Education, and — sure enough — Madison Teachers Inc. union president Mike Lipp.
Nerad was o.k. He got off a good line: “Children are the future but we are our children’s future.” He even quoted Sitting Bull but on first reference made certain to use his actual Native American name. This IS Madison, after all.
UW Education Dean Julie Underwood was atrocious — a firm defender of the status quo denouncing the “slashing” of school budgets, “negative ads,” and demanding that the community become “public school advocates.” I.E., the whole liberal litany.
Say, Dean Julie, how about the community become advocates for teaching children — in other words, the goal — instead of a one-size-fits-all, government-ordained delivery mechanism? Isn’t competition the American way?
Union apologist Mike Lipp reminded me of Welcome Back Kotter — looks and mien. He could be humorous (I am certain he is a good teacher) but he spent his allotted time on the glories of that holy grail of education: the union’s collective bargaining agreement. I expected an ethereal light beam to shine down on this holy writ, which Lipp lamented that he did not bring with him. His other purpose was to defuse the powerhouse documentary, “Waiting for Superman.”
Indeed, it was that indictment of public education’s “failure factories” and the hidebound me-first teachers unions that prompted Tuesday evening’s “conversation.” I wrote about it, and Kaleem Caire, here.
When Lipp was finished he returned to his table next to union hired gun John Matthews. No sense in sitting with parents and taxpayers.
When it came time for the participants to respond, one parent said of the four presenters that only Kaleem Caire took to heart the evening’s admonition to “keep students as the focus.” I think that was a little unfair to Nerad, who deserves credit for opening this can of worms, but otherwise right on target.
Caire reported that only 7% of African-American students tested as college-ready on the ACT test. For Latinos, the percentage is 14. Those are 2010 statistics — for Madison schools. In these schools, 2,800 suspensions were handed down to black students — of a total black enrollment of 5,300 students!
“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).
Kaleem recently returned to Madison as President and CEO of the Urban League. One of Kaleem’s signature initiatives is the launch of Madison Preparatory Academy, a proposed International Baccalaureate Charter school.
I spoke with Kaleem about Madison Prep, the local school climate and his goals.
Before I get into this, Kaleem Caire, who is going to be on Oprah later today, does have a point in that the minority achievement gap in Madison and in Wisconsin is very troubling. Madison and Wisconsin need to do a lot better job making sure all students have opportunities to excel…
But I don’t think his solution is going to do much good:
a male-only charter school using a rigorous curriculum geared toward boys of color in grades 6 through 12
There are two issues I have with this proposal:
1. A segregated school? Really? Seriously? Yeah, okay it’s only targeted towards boys of color and not strictly segregated, but really….it’s not a good idea. It doesn’t matter what the motivations are, segregating by race is unwise…and is race even the right way to look at this? What about economics?
Much more on the Madison Preparatory Academy here.
The Forward Lookout writer(s) appear to suggest that Caire work within the current system to address the achievement gap. An optimist all around, I believe that to be a challenging strategy, for any large organization.
Things have changed since Caire was raised by an aunt across the street from Penn Park at a time when adults didn’t hesitate to scold neighborhood kids who got out of line, and parents took on second jobs to make ends meet. Today, there is more “hard core” poverty, more crime, and much less sense of place, says Caire, who still can recite which families lived up Fisher Street and down Taft.
The supportive community of his boyhood began disappearing in the 1980s, as young parents moved in from Chicago to escape poverty and could not find the training and jobs they needed, Caire says. People started to lose their way. In a speech this month to the Madison Downtown Rotary, Caire said he has counted 56 black males he knew growing up that ended up incarcerated. “Most of ’em, you would never have seen it coming.”
Caire, once a consultant on minority education for the state and advocate for voucher schools, left Madison a decade ago and worked with such national nonprofit organizations as the Black Alliance for Educational Options and Fight for Children. Later he worked for discount retailer Target Corp., where he was a fast-rising executive, he says, until he realized his heart wasn’t in capitalism, despite the excellent managerial mentoring he received.
The sense of community that nurtured his youth has disappeared in cities across the country, Caire remarks. So he’s not trying to recreate the South Madison of the past, but rather to build connections that will ground people from throughout Madison in the community and inform the Urban League’s programs.
Caire recently attended the Madison Premiere of “The Lottery“, a film which highlights the battle between bureaucratic school districts, teacher unions and students (and parents).
David Blaska: 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 … Continue reading Is this the best Madison’s (taxpayer supported) public schools can do?
Scott Girard: A letter signed by 13 black community leaders in Madison expresses concerns about the Madison Metropolitan School District’s hiring of Matthew Gutiérrez to be its next superintendent. The concerns include how much larger and more diverse MMSD is than Gutiérrez’s current Seguin Independent School District in Texas, student performance scores in Seguin and a “flawed, … Continue reading Black community leaders share concerns about Madison School District’s superintendent hire, call process ‘flawed, incomplete’
Kaleem Caire: With regard to K-12 education, Madison has known about the widespread underperformance of Black children in our city’s public schools for more than 50 years, and the situation has gotten worse. Instead of creating important and transformationl systemic changes, we act like “programs” alone will solve our problems, when we know full well … Continue reading Why Black People in Madison Wisconsin are Impatient, and Should Be.
Logan Wroge: On Oct. 9, Anderson, who had worked at West for three years and at East High School for eight years before that, said he responded to a call about a disruptive student who was being escorted out of the school by an assistant principal. When the situation with the male student escalated, Anderson … Continue reading Black Madison school staffer appeals firing for repeating student’s racial slur
Logan Wroge: The temporarily six-person School Board is scheduled to decide Monday who will join the body for a nine-month stint. During that time, the board will hire a permanent superintendent and work on a potentially large November 2020 facilities referendum. Those interested in the appointment have until 4 p.m. Friday to apply for the … Continue reading Commentary on temporary madison school board memBer appoIntment, replacing Mary Burke
Negassi Tesfamichael: Some observers said the unique vacancy is a chance for a newcomer to serve. “I would really love to see another black mother on the School Board,” said Sabrina Madison, the founder of the Progress Center for Black Women. “Especially a mom who has been advocating for her kid recently around some of … Continue reading Positioning and Promotion: A Vacant Taxpayer Supported Madison School Board Seat
Negassi Tesfamichael: “Given that Mary will not be attending any future meetings, I do feel a sense of urgency in getting this filled,” Reyes said. “I don’t want to move forward through some of the important discussions and decisions we’ll have to make … so i think it is going to be imperative that we … Continue reading Commentary on The taxpayer supported Madison School Board’s GoVernance Plans: Replacement member and SuperintendenT search
Kaleem Caire, writing within Facebook’s walled garden. Via a kind reader: The Capital Times published my editorial below on March 12, 2019. I then posted the article on my FB page the same day. This terrible, awful and destructive generational disease didn’t get nearly the same rise out of people as me imploring our children … Continue reading COPS IN SCHOOLS or BLACK KIDS CAN READ?
Kaleem Caire: I HAVE HAD ENOUGH! Last evening, I sat in a Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education meeting only to listen yet again to a number of young people in middle and high school curse out and demean Madison School Board members in front of an audience of 200 people, and do so … Continue reading Children Need to Learn Respect
John B. Diamond, Kendra Alexander, Bianca J. Baldridge and Erika C. Bullock, via a kind reader: In a recent OpEd published on Madison 365, Kaleem Caire chastised Madison youth of color and their adult allies for their demeanor and their “foul, abrasive, and derogatory language” as they raised legitimate concerns about the important issues they … Continue reading Opinion: Respectability Politics Fail to Address Urgent Challenges in Madison Schools
David Blaska: Over the last few days since I voiced my concerns about the poor language being used towards adults by our children and youth in our public schools (and at several school board meetings). I have received mostly positive feedback. However, I have also read comments by people who feel my concern about our … Continue reading Madison’s TAXPAYER sUpportEd K-12 School Climate
Logan Wroge: A Chinese approach to teaching preschool students has made its way to Madison. One City Schools, a Madison charter school founded by former Urban League president Kaleem Caire and authorized by an office within the University of Wisconsin System, was the first school in the United States to practice Anji Play and is … Continue reading Chinese model for early learning part of One City Schools’ educational approach
Christina Gomez Schmidt, via a kind email: In March 2019 after the primary election, we asked each candidate six questions about education issues and Advanced Learning topics. We hope the answers will help voters to better understand candidate viewpoints and how they see Advanced Learning fitting into district priorities. Below are links to their … Continue reading Madison Partnership for Advanced Learning 2019 School Board Candidate Q & A
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction “DPI”, lead for many years by new Governor Tony Evers, has waived thousands of elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirements. This, despite our long term, disastrous reading results. Chan Stroman tracks the frequent Foundations of Reading (FoRT) mulligans: Yet the statutory FoRT requirement is now deemed satisfied by “attempts” … Continue reading Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers
Kaleem Caire: Our School District has an obligation to learn from these incidents and to ensure that our staff, students and parents have clear guidelines about how to address similar situations when they arise, and how they can also avoid such challenges as well. After reading the police reports, it is clear to me that … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Discipline and Achievement Climate
Jeff Tavss: Student grades would be unaffected by the changing scale system, but would allow underperforming schools to continue operating. Related: Yet: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”. Kaleem Caire: “If we don’t reach our benchmarks … Continue reading North Carolina proposes lowering ‘F’ grade to just 39 percent
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: Madison, WI – One City Schools Founder and CEO Kaleem Caire — with support from One City parents, Board of Directors, and partners — is pleased to announce that One City’s plan to establish One City Expeditionary Elementary School in South Madison has been approved. Last Friday, One City … Continue reading One City to Establish Elementary School in South Madison
Negassi Tesfamichael: The nine candidates in a crowded primary for three seats on the Madison School Board made their case to an audience gathered at Christ Presbyterian Church Tuesday evening. The forum, organized by the Grandparents United for Madison Public Schools, was the first time the candidates shared the stage during the current election cycle. … Continue reading School Board candidates stake out their positions at 2019 primary forum
Chris Rickert: Endorsements in this month’s School Board primary from the influential Madison teachers union include one for a candidate who sends her two children to the kind of charter school strongly opposed by the union. Madison Teachers Inc. this week endorsed Ali Muldrow over David Blaska, Laila Borokhim and Albert Bryan for Seat 4; … Continue reading K-12 Governance Diversity: the 2019 Madison School Board Election, Parental Choice and our long term, disastrous reading results
David Blaska: The occasion was a school board candidate forum. An organization named GRUMPS sponsored it. It stands for GRandparents United for Madison Public Schools. Its major domos are former school board members Nan Brien, Anne Arnesen, Barbara Arnold, Arlene Silviera, and Carol Carstensen. We also encountered former board guys Bill Keyes, Bill Clingan, and … Continue reading Commentary on a 2019 Madison School Board Candidate Forum
Avi Wolfman-Arent: The small parent rebellion forming in one of Pennsylvania’s wealthiest school districts began at a Starbucks in suburban Chester County. Over coffee, three moms — Kate Mayer, Jamie Lynch, and Wendy Brooks — swapped stories about how their kids struggled to read as they moved through the Tredyffrin/Easttown school district, located about 30 … Continue reading Meet the ‘crazy’ moms saying one of Pa.’s top-rated school districts can’t teach reading
Negassi Tesfamichael: MTI cited Carusi’s opposition to voucher and independent charter schools in its endorsement. “Carusi is opposed to vouchers and independent charter schools and strongly believes that we need to continuously work to improve our public schools, rather than support alternatives,” MTI’s endorsement said. Caire’s One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early … Continue reading Advocating status quo, non diverse K-12 Madison Schools Governance
Erin Hinrichs: “Minnesota has a state of emergency regarding literacy. I’m very disappointed with where we’re at right now with the persistent reading success gap between white students and students of color,” he said Wednesday. “We are not making adequate progress, and the future of tens of thousands of our students is seriously at risk … Continue reading Minnesota’s persistent literacy gap has lawmakers looking for ways to push evidence-based reading instruction
Chris Rickert: According to emails released to the State Journal under the state’s open records law, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham on Sept. 10 asked her chief of staff, Ricardo Jara, and other front-office officials whether Arbor was “worth trying to stop? Or change somehow? If so, how?” Cheatham expressed the district’s opposition to the school in … Continue reading UW rejects application for independent Madison charter school
Christopher Osher: But districts are free to use their READ Act per-pupil funds on whatever curriculum they want, even on interventions researchers have found ineffective. “Typically, as with any education policy, we’re only given so much authority on what we can tell districts to do and what we monitor for,” Colsman said in an interview … Continue reading “One issue state officials say they have detected as they monitor the effectiveness of the READ Act is that not all teachers are up to date on how best to teach reading.”
Negassi Tesfamichael: With the Madison School Board primary election less than a month away, a crowded field of nine candidates will make their case to voters in the coming weeks, starting with a forum on Feb. 5. Here’s a closer look at how candidates are making their case to voters. Seat 3 Kaleem Caire, an … Continue reading Commentary on the 2019 Madison School Board candidates
Negassi Tesfamichael: Nearly all current candidates for the Madison School Board have started to make their case to voters and potential endorsers as the primary election heats up. That included answering questions from Madison Teachers Inc., the city’s teachers’ union. Nine candidates are running for three seats on the seven-person School Board. MTI executive director … Continue reading 2019 Madison School Board Election: Madison Teachers Union Candidate Questions
Laurie Frost and Heff Henriques: Children who are not proficient readers by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. Additionally, two-thirds of them will end up in prison or on welfare. Though these dismal trajectories are well known, Madison School District’s reading scores for minority students remain unconscionably low and … Continue reading deja vu: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results
Negassi Tesfamichael m: Why are all of the Madison School Board seats at-large? The answer lies in state law. Tucked into a section of state statutes about how school boards and districts are organized is a requirement that applies directly to MMSD. The requirement says that unified school districts — such as MMSD — “that … Continue reading 2019 Election: Why are all of the Madison School Board seats at-large? (Curious statute words limiting legislation to Madison)
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: One City Schools, Inc., a local nonprofit operating an independent preschool and public charter school, announced today that it has been accepted into a coveted network of more than 150 schools nationwide in the EL Education (EL) program. EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) is an educational model that balances … Continue reading One City Schools Admitted to EL Education’s National Network of Schools
Neil Heinen: There is so much to like about One City’s structure and operation, starting with founder, President and CEO Kaleem Caire. Caire’s bedrock passion for education has always been part of what hasn’t always been a straight-line career path. But all of the elements of his business, civic, nonprofit and activist education ventures have … Continue reading Commentary on A Diverse K-12 Governance Model – in Madison (outside the $20k/student legacy system)
Chris Rickert: The questionnaire also includes several questions about teachers’ ability to have a say in their compensation and working conditions, and asks whether the candidates “support the reinstatement of collective bargaining rights for all public employees (currently prohibited by Act 10)?” Act 10 is the controversial 2011 law passed by Republicans that stripped most … Continue reading Madison Teachers Union and the 2019 school board election: Commentary, Spending and Academic Results
Chris Rickert: In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.” Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School … Continue reading Routing Around Madison’s Non-Diverse K-12 Governance Model
Negassi Tesfamichael: Madison School Board candidate Skylar Croy said in an interview with the Cap Times Friday that he would suspend his campaign and withdraw from the Seat 3 race, citing personal reasons. Because Croy turned in his verified nomination signatures on Wednesday to the city clerk’s office, the third-year University of Wisconsin law student’s … Continue reading Skylar Croy withdrawing from 2019 Madison School Board race, name will still appear on ballot
Seat 3 Kaleem Caire, 7856 Wood Reed Drive, Madison Cristiana Carusi, 5709 Bittersweet Place Skylar Croy, 502 N. Frances St., Madison Seat 4 David Blaska, 5213 Loruth Terrace, Madison Laila Borokhim, 2214 Monroe St., Madison Albert Bryan, 4302 Hillcrest Drive, Madison Ali Muldrow, 1966 East Main St., Madison Seat 5 TJ Mertz, 1210 Gilson St., … Continue reading 2019 Madison School Board Candidates; Competitive Races!
Alan Borsuk: 20 percent. That is roughly the percentage of Milwaukee students, both in public and private schools, who were rated proficient or advanced in reading in tests in spring 2018 — and it’s about the same figure as every year for many years. Folks, we have a huge reading crisis. There may be more … Continue reading “Folks, we have a huge reading crisis”
Negassi Tesfamichael: The Madison School Board’s general election is still nearly five months away, but candidates have been jumping into the race the past few weeks at a rapid pace. Three seats on the seven-person School Board will be on the ballot this spring, and each seat will be contested. Here’s what you need to … Continue reading Who’s running for Madison School Board (so far)? 2019
Scoot Milfred and Phil Hands: Usual mumbo-jumbo, we do on this podcast. Why don’t we invite in today some experts to talk about our topic which is around school. Which Madison is finally going to give a try this fall to experts. I know very well we have all hands on deck here. We have … Continue reading “Yes, to Year Around School” Podcast Transcript (Not in the Madison School District)
One City Schools, via a kind Kaleem Caire email: On Monday May 7, the Pahara and Aspen Institutes announced a new class of leaders that were selected to participate in the distinguished Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship. One City’s Founder and CEO, Kaleem Caire, will join 23 other leaders in this highly prized two-year fellowship program. The … Continue reading One City CEO Selected to Participate in Distinguished Fellowship Program
Via a kind email: Dear Friends. Last night, we learned that our application to establish One City Senior Preschool as a public charter school serving children in 4 year-old and 5 year-old kindergarten was approved by the University of Wisconsin System. We are very excited! This action will enable us to offer a high quality, … Continue reading University of Wisconsin System Approves One City’s Charter School Application
Via a kind Kaleem Caire email. http://www.onecityearlylearning.org
One City Early Learning, via a kind Kaleem Caire email: A high quality preschool education, from birth to age 5, should be available and accessible to every child in the United States of America. Please join us on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 from 11:30am to 1:00pm for lunch and an important presentation and dialogue. We … Continue reading You’re Invited: One City to Launch Preschool Movement and Charter School
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: TODAY ON THE RADIO: Please listen to a very important segment of the Mike Heller Show today at 2pm CDT on WIBA Radio 1070AM (iHeart Media) when University of Wisconsin Men’s Assistant Basketball Coach, Howard Moore, former Wisconsin Men’s and professional basketball player Rashard Griffith, and One City Early … Continue reading Madison’s Growing Violence Problem
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: In 2009, 328 black students started 9th grade in Madison’s public high schools. By June 2013, only 177 (54%) of these students graduated with a diploma. Only 14 of these graduates were considered “ready” to succeed in college level reading upon completion of the ACT college entrance exam. That’s … Continue reading There’s No Achievement Gap Here
One City Learning, via a kind Kaleem Caire email: Tonight, One City Early Learning Centers, a high quality preschool located in the heart of South Madison, is hosting its first graduation ceremony and community barbecue, in honor of its first cohort of children to transition from its preschool to local kindergartens in the city. Nine … Continue reading Greatness! Future Leaders of Madison take Center Stage
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: A Professional Development Seminar for Parents, Teachers and Community Educators; You don’t want to miss this! Presented by Dr. Elizabeth Blue Swadener Professor of Justice and Social Inquiry (and Education Policy), and Associate Director of the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. Thursday, March 9, 2017 5:45pm … Continue reading Children’s Rights and Voices in Changing Times
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: Today, One City Early Learning Centers of Madison and Edgewood College’s School of Education announced a new partnership they have formed to provide preschool teachers-in-training with significant hands-on experience in early childhood education in a community setting. Beginning this month, Edgewood College will teach its Pre-student Teaching Practicum Course, … Continue reading Edgewood College and One City Partner to Train Educators
Doug Erickson: Wright Middle School, 1717 Fish Hatchery Road, is poised to give up its status as a charter school after 22 years. Kaleem Caire, a community member who has been heavily involved in helping the school discern its future, said the decision came about in part due to changes by the state Legislature. In … Continue reading Madison’s Wright Middle School seeks to give up its charter school status
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email (PDF): Our children all come into the world with similar bright eyes. For most of them, it takes more than their parents to pave the way and light a path for them. Thank you for being a part of our children’s community of support. We are living our name … Continue reading One City Early Learning 2016 Investors Report
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: On Sunday, October 2, 2016 from 2pm to 4pm CST, more than 130 local Black men will participate in Madison’s Premiere Black Male Photo Shoot on the steps of Wisconsin’s State Capitol, City Hall and the Monona Terrace. The photo shoot has been organized One City Early Learning Centers … Continue reading 130+ Black Men to Support Preschool Education at Wisconsin State Capitol
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: One City Early Learning Centers of Madison, Wisconsin will be the first U.S. pilot site for the groundbreaking AnjiPlay curriculum. One City will feature environments and materials designed by AnjiPlay program founder Ms. Cheng Xueqin, and One City teachers and staff will receive training from Ms. Cheng and Dr. … Continue reading One City Early Learning Centers of Madison, WI named first U.S. pilot site outside of China to implement revolutionary new education approach
Kaleem Caire: As a “distinguished alumnus” of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I say “bravo” to Chancellor Blank. I am looking forward to meeting with her to discuss the recommendations that have been put forth, and how quickly and thoroughly they will be implemented. We need transformational leadership, not just a few easy-to-implement solutions, and we … Continue reading A response to Chancellor Blank’s letter on UW’s campus climate
Via a kind Kaleem Caire email: Mobilizing One City: Early Experiences Elevate Everything High quality preschool education contributes significantly to a child’s long-term success. Their first 1,000 days of life set the stage for the rest of their lives. We can close the achievement gap that’s holding back children if we start early. Join us … Continue reading One City Learning Invites You to a Special Event
David Dahmer: Two facts that we know to be true: One, children who can read, who love to learn, and who can work effectively with others will be best prepared to lead happy lives and raise happy and healthy families as adults. Two, many children of color in low-income families don’t start their learning in … Continue reading One City Early Learning Center looks to help revitalize South Madison
Wisconsin’s stürm and drang over “Act 10” is somewhat manifested in Madison. Madison’s government schools are the only Wisconsin District, via extensive litigation, to still have a collective bargaining agreement with a teacher union, in this case, Madison Teachers, Inc. The Madison School Board and Administration are working with the local teachers union on a … Continue reading Madison’s Schwerpunkt: Government School District Power Play: The New Handbook Process is worth a look
Mitch Henck: Gee, Kaleem Caire and other black community leaders fought for Madison Prep. It was a proposed charter school aimed at serving young males, mostly black and Hispanic, to be taught predominantly by teachers of color for more effective role modeling. Berg and several white conservatives in Madison, along with moderate John Roach, supported … Continue reading Madison Needs To Remove The Blinders
Chris Rickert: A reader with a much keener sense of irony than I emailed this week to point out that the site identified 3 1/2 years ago for the aborted Madison Preparatory Academy is slated to become home to a new police station by 2017. That’s right. In a city with some of the highest … Continue reading The Rejected Madison Preparatory IB Academy Charter School, In The News
Kaleem Caire: So far, our capital city, like so many other cities, has preferred to go another way. They have no problem limiting their investment to spending millions of dollars on safety and security strategies that focus on locking up black males and policing them. We spend more money on policing, jail and related services … Continue reading Bring back plan for all-male school to help black Boys
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: We had a great time at our campaign kick-off event for One City Early Learning Centers at the CUNA Mutual Conference Center on March 6! More than 350 friends and champions for children joined us on a Friday night to learn about our plans to raise $1.4 million to … Continue reading An Update on One City Early Learning Centers & Reading….
<A href=”http://www.channel3000.com/news/opinion/For-the-Record-One-City-Early-Learning-Center/31611302“>Channel3000</a>: <blockquote>Neil Heinen talks with Salli Martyniak and Kaleem Caire about the opening of the One City Early Learning Center.</blockquote>
Molly Beck Mary Burke, the incumbent Madison School Board member who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Scott Walker last month, confirmed Friday she will seek re-election in April. But Arlene Silveira, the longest serving board member and in her second stint as president, will not seek another term. And Anna Moffit, who has served on the district’s … Continue reading Madison School Board: Mary Burke Seeks Re-Election, Arlene Silveira Will Not
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: We’ve been quiet because we’ve been building. We have some exciting updates to share with you as we move forward to establish One City Early Learning Centers on Madison’s South Side. Since August, we have: Established a 15-member Board of Directors Filed for nonprofit recognition with the IRS Identified … Continue reading One City: New School, New Look, Great Progress
OneCity Early Learning Centers by Kaleem Caire and Vivek Ramakrishnan (PDF), via a kind reader In the fall of the 2013-14 school year, public school children across Wisconsin completed the state’s Knowledge and Concepts Exam, an annual test that measures their knowledge, ability and skills in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and … Continue reading OneCity Early Learning Centers: ￼A New Plan for South Madison Child Development Incorporated (DRAFT)
Stephen Buzrucha: The life-course perspective in particular is out of the public eye. Looking more deeply into research on the effects of early life, it is possible to estimate that roughly half of our health as adults is programmed from the time of conception to around two years of age. The importance of these “first … Continue reading The First Two Years
Kaleem Caire, South Madison Child Development: We are embracing the future and the need to change to ensure that more of Greater Madison’s children are ready to read, compute and succeed educationally by the time they begin first grade. Please join us on Monday, June 23, 2014 at 5:30pm at South Madison Child Development Incorporated … Continue reading Empowering the Future through our kids: South Madison Child Development
The Capital Times: The statistics on African-American achievement have been so grim throughout the years that in 2010, Kaleem Caire, at the time the CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, put forth a proposal for a charter school designed to help African-American students surmount the achievement gap. It was ultimately rejected by the … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s Achievement Gap
Diane Rado: Under a dramatic new approach to rating public schools, Illinois students of different backgrounds no longer will be held to the same standards — with Latinos and blacks, low-income children and other groups having lower targets than whites for passing state exams, the Tribune has found. In reading, for example, 85 percent of … Continue reading Illinois: Different standards for different students
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: This will be my final report to the community as the president & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison. Today, former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray will take over as the interim leader of this great organization and I will spend the remainder of this month supporting … Continue reading My Final Report to the Community
Interview with MMSD School Board candidate Wayne Strong Safe schools and high academic achievement: High academic achievement, for Strong, means that all of our MMSD students are achieving to the fullest extent of their abilities. “Whether you are a TAG [Talented and Gifted] or a special-needs student or whether you are a middleof- the-road student, … Continue reading A few links on the April, 2014 Madison School Board Election & Climate, 1 contested seat, 1 uncontested
Compare: Three reporters assigned to the Urban League’s governance transition: 1. Steven Elbow: Madison Urban League chair: Kaleem Caire’s credit card use an ‘internal’ issue. 2. Dee Hall: Urban League head: Kaleem Caire’s ‘integrity intact’. 3. Dean Mosiman: Kaleem Caire’s departure followed concerns about credit card use, overwork. 2005 a reporter follows a story with … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Public Purse Media Spending Oversight, or note…. Bread & Circuses
Nobody does guilt like a Madison liberal! The president of the Madison School Board tells me that I really didn’t make that. All along, I have been swimming in the water of white privilege.
I wish Ed Hughes had told me about white privilege when, growing up on the farm, I was mucking out the old barn with a shovel. I knew I was swimming in something but I didn’t think it was white privilege.
Ed is an honorable public servant, mindful of the dismayingly poor unemployment, incarceration, and graduation rates among people of color here in the Emerald City.
“We white folks pretty much get to set the rules in Madison,” Hughes apologizes. He meant “liberal white folks.” They’ve been running Madison for 40 years, since Paul Soglin first became mayor. It’s 50 years since LBJ’s Great Society. Something besides the Obamacare website ain’t workin’.
Allow this Madison minority — I’m a conservative — to propose a fix: If a crusading young black educator named Kaleem Caire returns to the Madison School Board with a plan for a school focused on tackling minority underachievement, give it a chance! Ed, you voted with the majority to kill Madison Prep.
Much more on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
Jennifer Cheatham doesn’t have the countenance of someone who has stepped into a maelstrom. Madison schools superintendent since April, Cheatham, 41, has already visited every school in the district and rolled out a “Strategic Framework” to tackle some of the district’s thorniest issues, including the achievement gap. So far she’s generated considerable excitement around her plans and raised hopes, even among skeptics.
Kaleem Caire has even put off plans to file a federal civil rights complaint against the district for the school board’s rejection of a charter school geared toward low-income minority students. The CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, which spearheaded the proposal, says he’s now content to play a “facilitative, supportive role” and get behind Cheatham’s plan to “bring order and structure” to the district.
“Personally, I’ve been hanging back, letting her get her space,” says Caire. “The superintendent should be the leader of education. All of us should be supporting and holding that person accountable.
The Madison Urban League, via a kind Kaleem Caire email:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2013
Media contact: Kaleem Caire
Click Here for Urban League’s 2013-14 Agenda
State Test Scores Confirm Urban League’s Concerns and Call to Action
Madison, WI – Today, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released students’ results on the annual statewide achievement test, Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE). The results confirm concerns raised by the Urban League of Greater Madison, that disadvantaged students and students of color are severely underperforming in many of Wisconsin’s public schools, particularly in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
All Wisconsin public school students completed the test in November 2012. This revised test raised the standards of performance for all students, thereby providing a more accurate picture of students who are on track to graduate from high school academically ready to succeed in college or a career. Test results show that all students, regardless of their race, socioeconomic status or disability, are struggling to achieve to high standards in Madison-area public schools.
This afternoon, the Urban League of Greater Madison joined Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, and leaders of other community organizations, at a press conference where Cheatham shared MMSD’s results. Cheatham presented data showing that an astounding 92% of African American and 85% of Latino students are reading below their grade level, and 90% of African American and 77% of Latino children are failing in mathematics. The data further showed that a large percentage of white students have fallen behind as well, with 42% are reading below grade level and 33% failing in math.
In reflecting on the scores, Darrell Bazzell, the Chair of Urban League’s Board of Directors said, “These numbers are a stark message that Madison’s public schools are at a tipping point and that our community must embrace change. The implications for our region are profound. For the sake of our community and our children, Madison can, and must, do better for all students and families.”
Bazzell further stated that, “Every citizen in our community must say that ‘we will no longer harbor these gaps; that we accept responsibility for addressing these challenges; and that we will commit to doing all that we can to ensure all of our children succeed. We must also acknowledge where we are not succeeding and commit to change in smart, innovative and effective ways that lead to real progress for our kids’.”
In response to these troubling statistics, Urban League President and CEO, Kaleem Caire, shared that, “When 90% of Black children cannot read at their grade level, we are significantly reducing the possibility of success for an entire generation. This issue negatively affects not only this generation of children, but also the vitality of our entire region. If not addressed quickly, it will affect the quality of the lives of all citizens who call Madison home.” To address these challenges, Caire said “The Urban League is working to build a pipeline of high quality cradle to career educational and employment services that positively impact the entire family, move all children towards high performance, and prepare youth and adults for career success.” He further highlighted, “We have already begun working with the Madison Schools, other area school districts, employers and community partners to ensure that we attack the persistence of underachievement and other contributing factors, such as poverty, at its core. ”
The Urban League’s 2013-14 Strategic Plan creates opportunities that will help the community overcome these challenges. Caire enthusiastically shared that, “We are a community of great people, great teachers and great families who are passionate about helping others transform their lives. But our passion now must become our reality.”
About the Urban League of Greater Madison
The Urban League of Greater Madison’s mission is to ensure that African Americans and other community members are educated, employed and empowered to live well, advance professionally and contribute to the common good in the 21st Century. We are committed to transforming Greater Madison into the Best [place] in the Midwest for everyone to live, learn, and work. We are working to make this vision a reality through a comprehensive strategic empowerment agenda that includes programs & services, advocacy, and partnerships & coalition building. www.ulgm.org
Urban League of Greater Madison | 2222 S. Park Street | Suite 200 | Madison | WI | 53713
Between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2012, the Urban League of Greater Madison stood on the firm shoulders of its founders – Leslie Fishel, Jr., Sydney Forbes, Isobel Clark and Frank Morrison – and demonstrated exceptional courage and foresight by launching a well-orchestrated campaign to raise the community’s consciousness about an embarrassing and unconscionable racial achievement gap that is leaving hundreds of Black, Latino and Asian children behind each year. We also informed the community about the acceleration of middle class families moving their children out of Madison’s public schools, either through relocation or utilizing the state’s inter-district public school choice program. Between 1989 and 2012, the student population in Madison schools grew from 24% non-white to 55% non-white. We also began an aggressive campaign to enlist the support of businesses, education institutions, community partners and resource providers to expand workforce development and career training opportunities for unemployed and underemployed adults in Dane County, and address diversity and inclusion opportunities among them.
The public should consider our 2013-14 Strategic Plan to be Phase II of the League’s efforts to provide courageous and transformational leadership to ensure thousands more children, adults and families succeed in our schools, colleges, workplaces, neighborhoods and communities. In 2020, the Urban League of Greater Madison would like local citizens and the national media to report that Madison, Wisconsin has indeed become “Best [place] in the Midwest for Everyone to Live, Learn and Work”. Early returns on the investment made thus far indicate that our vision can become a reality.
This Strategic Plan covers a 24-month period, from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2014. We believe shorter time-windows enable us to keep the organization focused on achieving a reasonable number of high impact goals, and with the appropriate sense of urgency necessary to produce the results it seeks and the community needs. As our nation has demonstrated extraordinary courage and overcome extraordinary challenges in years past, we will do so again.
The results of the Seat 3 match-up between Loumos and Strong won’t be known until next week. Loumos held a 279-vote margin with all wards reporting early Wednesday, but Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell told the Wisconsin State Journal that there were potentially hundreds of absentee ballots yet to be counted.
The shocking withdrawal just after the Seat 5 primary of Sarah Manski, the candidate of the local progressive establishment, pushed third place finisher, Latina Ananda Mirilli, off the ballot and set up a disturbing tension between the local progressive community and communities of color. Kaleem Caire, CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison and architect of the controversial Madison Preparatory Academy, used the occasion to resurrect some of the divisive stands around the proposed charter school for African-American students that was rejected in 2011 by the School Board.
Loumos, in addition to backing from unions like Madison Teachers Inc, AFSCME and South Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, also boasted an array of the progressive endorsements that usually win races in Madison: Progressive Dane, Four Lakes Green Party, Fair Wisconsin PAC.
But he insisted Tuesday that that tension between progressives and communities of color wasn’t a factor in his race, in part because he doesn’t have the profile for it.
Loumos has worked for decades with people struggling at the edges of society, many of them black and Latino. Currently executive director of a nonprofit agency that provides housing for homeless people, he used to teach in Madison School District programs for kids who were faltering.
But the race between Dean Loumos, executive director of Housing Initiatives Inc., and retired Madison Police lieutenant Wayne Strong remained too close to call.
Loumos held a 279-vote margin with all wards reporting, but Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said there were potentially hundreds of absentee ballots yet to be counted. Those won’t all be counted by the canvassing board until next Tuesday, due to a recent change in state law, McDonell said.
Strong said he would wait to make a decision about whether to seek a recount. Loumos said he respected Strong’s position and he didn’t declare victory.
Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.
That led minority leaders to complain about the perceived control white Madison liberals — including teachers union leaders — exert on elections and on efforts meant to raise minority student achievement. Some local leaders have undertaken soul-searching while others say more minorities need to seek elective office.
“You could not have constructed a scenario to cause more alienation and more mistrust than what Sarah Manski did,” longtime local political observer Stuart Levitan said, referring to the primary winner for seat 5. “It exposed an underlying lack of connection between some of the progressive white community and the progressive African-American community that is very worrisome in the long run.”
In the last few weeks:
- Urban League of Greater Madison president Kaleem Caire in a lengthy email described the failed negotiations involving him, district officials and Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews over Caire’s proposed Madison Preparatory Academy geared toward low-income minority students.
- Ananda Mirilli, who placed third behind Manski for seat 5, released emails in which Sarah Manski’s husband, Ben Manski, accused Caire of recruiting Mirilli to run for School Board and linking Caire to a conservative foundation. Caire confirmed the email exchange, but said he didn’t recruit Mirilli. The Manskis did not respond to requests for comment.
- Two School Board members, Mary Burke and Ed Hughes, vigorously backed former police lieutenant Wayne Strong, who is black, to counter the influence of political groups supporting his opponent. In the seat 3 race, Strong faces Dean Loumos, a low-income housing provider supported by MTI, the Dane County Democratic Party, Progressive Dane and the local Green Party.
Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.
It’s a painful irony for Ananda Mirilli that the School Board run she tried to use to call the community to come together to do better for Madison kids ended up embroiled in such controversy.
“I’m seeing an even bigger divide in the community, and I’m sad that we are in that place,” Mirilli told me Wednesday. “But I’m hoping to continue to work to find healing in our community. We really need to have a conversation about the achievement gap.”
Mirilli, a Latina who lost her bid for Seat 5 on the Madison School Board in the Feb. 18 primary, decided against a write-in campaign when primary winner Sarah Manski dropped out of the race just two days later. But Mirilli hasn’t given up hope that the election — despite Manski’s surprise withdrawal and the allegations of dirty politics and hypocrisy it incited — can yet be made an occasion to bring together people now sometimes working at odds to improve education in Madison schools.
And as the Restorative Justice Program manager at YWCA Madison, Mirilli is wondering if restorative justice principles might be the way to do it.
“I’m wondering if we could hold a circle — not to find out the truth, but to see how we can move forward on this,” Mirilli told me.
Mirilli says she was wrongly depicted by Manski as pro-voucher because of a supposed association with Kaleem Caire of the Urban League of Greater Madison. Caire on Wednesday resurrected allegations of double-dealing by leaders of Madison Teachers Inc. in negotiating his Madison Preparatory Academy charter proposal that was rejected by the School Board two years ago.
Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board elections, here.
I appreciate Schneider’s ability to add links to her articles. This continues to be a rare event in Madison’s traditional media circles.
Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, is speaking out against the campaign of deception waged against people of color and others who support doing something now about Madison’s yawning achievement gap instead of blaming Gov. Scott Walker.
In a statement issued this week, Caire writes, “As the 2013 Madison school board race continues, we (the Urban League) are deeply concerned about the negative politics, dishonesty and inaccurate discussions that have shaped the campaign. … We are concerned about how Madison Prep has become a red herring ….”
Walker had not even been sworn in as governor when the Urban League proposed establishing a charter school, Madison Preparatory Academy, to address an achievement gap in which barely half of black and Hispanic children graduate from high school in the Madison public schools.
Caire mentioned as the two worst offenders in this campaign of dishonesty T.J. Mertz, candidate for School Board seat #5, and Green Party activist Ben Manski.
Manski’s wife, Sarah, jumped into the seat #5 race hoping to squeeze out an already announced candidate, Latina immigrant Ananda Mirilli. Sarah Manski’s candidacy was apparently encouraged by both Mayor Paul Soglin, who gave her a glowing campaign testimonial, and teachers union boss John Matthews, to whom Soglin referred Sarah Manski. On Dec. 30, Ben Manski blasted an email containing this outright distortion of minority candidate Ananda Mirilli’s position:
Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email
March 6, 2013
Dear Madison Leaders.
As the 2013 Madison school board race continues, we (the Urban League) are deeply concerned about the negative politics, dishonesty and inaccurate discussions that have shaped the campaign. While I will not, as a nonprofit leader, speak about the merits of individual candidates, we are concerned about how Madison Prep has become a red herring during the debates. The question of all the candidates has been largely narrowed to, “Did you support Madison Prep or did you not?”…as if something was horribly wrong with our charter school proposal, and as though that is the most important issue facing our school children and schools.
While the Urban League has no interest in partaking in the squabbles and confusion that has unfortunately come to define public conversation about our public schools, we do want to set the record straight about deliberations on Madison Prep that have been falsely expressed by many during this campaign, and used to dog individuals who supported the school proposal more than one year ago.
Here is how things transpired.
On May 9, 2011, Steve Goldberg of the CUNA Mutual Foundation facilitated a meeting about Madison Prep, at my request, between Madison Teacher’s Incorporated President, John Matthews and me. The meeting was held in CUNA’s cafeteria. We had lunch and met for about an hour. It was a cordial meeting and we each discussed the Madison Prep proposal and what it would take for the Urban League and MTI to work together. We didn’t get into many details, however I was sure to inform John that our proposal of a non-instrumentality charter school (non-MTI) was not because we didn’t support the union but because the collective bargaining agreement was too restrictive for the school model and design we were proposing to be fully implemented, and because we desired to recruit teachers outside the restrictions of the collective bargaining agreement. We wanted to have flexibility to aggressively recruit on an earlier timeline and have the final say on who worked in our school.
The three of us met again at the Coliseum Bar on August 23, 2011, this time involving other members of our teams. We got into the specifics of negotiations regarding the Urban League’s focus on establishing a non-instrumentality school and John’s desire to have Madison Prep’s employees be a part of MTI’s collective bargaining unit. At the close of that meeting, we (Urban League) offered to have Madison Prep’s teachers and guidance counselors be members of the collective bargaining unit. John said he felt we were making progress but he needed to think about not having MTI represent all of the staff that are a part of their bargaining unit. John and I also agreed that I would email him a memo outlining our desire to work with MTI, and provide the details of what we discussed. John agreed to respond after reviewing the proposal with his team. That memo, which we have not released previously, is attached [336K PDF]. You will see clearly that the Urban League initiated dialogue with MTI about having the teacher’s union represent our educators.
John, Steve and I met for a third time at Perkins restaurant for breakfast on the West Beltline on September 30, 2013. This time, I brought representatives of the Madison Prep and Urban League Boards with me: Dr. Gloria Ladson Billings, John Roach and Derrick Smith. It was at the close of this meeting that John Matthews told all of us that we “had a deal”, that MTI and the Urban League would now work together on Madison Prep. We all shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Our team was relieved.
Later that evening, I received calls from Matt DeFour, a reporter with the Wisconsin State Journal and Susan Troller of The Capital Times. They both asked me to confirm what John had told them; that we had a deal. I replied by confirming the deal. The next day, The Capital Times ran a story, Madison Prep and MTI will work together on new charter school. The State Journal ran an article too, Prep School agrees to employ union staff. All was good, or so we thought.
Unfortunately, our agreement was short-lived. The very next day after the story hit the newspapers, my team and I began receiving angry letters from social workers and psychologists in MMSD who were upset that we did not want to have those positions represented by MTI. We replied by explaining to them that our reasoning was purely driven by the fact that 99% of the Districts psychologists were white and that there were few social workers of color, too. For obvious reasons, we did not believe MMSD would have success hiring diverse staff for these positions. We desired a diverse staff for two reasons: we anticipated the majority of our students to be students of color and our social work and psychological service model was different. Madison Prep had a family-serving model where the school would pay for such services for every person in a family, if necessary, who needed it, and would make available to families and students a diverse pool of contracted psychologists that families and students could choose from.
That Monday evening, October 3, 2011, John Matthews approached me with Steve Goldberg at the School Board hearing on Madison Prep and informed me that his bargaining unit was very upset and that he needed to have our Physical education teacher be represented by MTI, too. Our Phy Ed model was different; we had been working on a plan with the YMCA to implement a very innovative approach to ensuring our students were deeply engaged in health and wellness activities at school and beyond the school day. In our plan, we considered the extraordinarily high rates of obesity among young men and women of color. However, to make the deal with MTI work, that evening I gave MTI the Phy Ed teaching position.
But that one request ultimately became a request by MTI for every position in our school, and a request by John Matthews to re-open negotiations, this time with a mediator. At first, we rejected this request because we felt “a deal is a deal”. When you shake hands, you follow through.
We only gave in after current school board president, James Howard, called me at home to request that the Urban League come back to the negotiating table. James acknowledged not feeling great about asking us to do this after all we had been through – jumping through hoop after hoop. If you followed the media closely, you would recall how many times we worked to overcome hurdles that were placed in our way – $200K worth of hurdles (that’s how much we spent). After meeting with MMSD leadership and staff, we agreed to come back to the table to address issues with MTI and AFSCME, who wanted our custodial and food service workers to be represented by the union as well. When we met, the unions came to the negotiation with attorneys and so did we. If you care to find out what was said during these negotiations, you can request a transcript from Beth Lehman, the liaison to the MMSD Board of Education who was taking official notes (October 31 and November 1, 2011).
On our first day of negotiations, after all sides shared their requests and concerns, we (ULGM) decided to let AFSCME represent our custodial and food service staff. AFSCME was immediately satisfied, and left the room. That’s when the hardball towards us started. We then countered with a plausible proposal that MTI did not like. When we couldn’t get anywhere, we agreed to go into recess. Shortly after we came back from recess, former MMSD Superintendent Dan Nerad dropped the bomb on us. He shared that if we now agreed to have our staff be represented by MTI, we would have to budget paying our teachers an average of $80,000 per year per teacher and dedicating $25,000 per teacher to benefits. This would effectively increase our proposal from $15M over five years to $28M over five years.
Why the increased costs? For months, we projected in our budgets that our staff would likely average 7 years of teaching experience with a Master’s degree. We used the MTI-MMSD salary schedule to set the wages in our budget, and followed MMSD and MTI’s suggestions for how to budget for the extended school day and year parts of our charter school plan. Until that day, MMSD hadn’t once told us that the way we were budgeting was a problem. They actually submitted several versions of budgets to the School Board, and not once raising this issue.
Superintendent Nerad further informed us that MMSD was going to now submit a budget to the Board of Education that reflected costs for teachers with an average of 14 years’ experience and a master’s degree. When we shockingly asked Nerad if he thought the Board of Education would support such a proposal, he said they likely would not. We did not think the public would support such a unusual request either. As you can imagine, we left the negotiations very frustrated. In the 23rd hour, not only was the run we thought we had batted in taken away from us in the 9th inning, we felt like our entire season had been vacated by commissioners.
When we returned to our office that afternoon, we called an emergency meeting of the Urban League and Madison Prep boards. It was in those meetings that we had to make a choice. Do we completely abandon our proposal for Madison Prep after all we had done to see the project through, and after all of the community support and interests from parents that we had received, or do we go forward with our original proposal of a non-instrumentality charter school and let the chips fall where they may with a vote by the Board? At that point, our trust of MMSD and MTI was not very high. In fact, weeks before all of this happened, we were told by Nerad in a meeting with our team and attorneys, and his staff and attorneys, that the Board of Education had voted in closed session to unilaterally withdraw our charter school planning grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. They reversed this decision after we informed them we would file a lawsuit against them. We were later told that a certain Board member was pushing for months to have this done. Then, after months of not being able to get certain board members to meet with us, Marj Passman, decided to meet with me alone in my office. During that meeting, she told me that we (ULGM) didn’t have the votes for Madison Prep and that we were never going to get the school approved. She the offered to donate her personal funds to Madison Prep, if we pulled our proposal and decided to do a private school instead. I told her that I appreciated her offer, but declined.
After finally meeting with all seven board of education members, both the Madison Prep and ULGM boards decided unanimously that we must in good conscience go forward, put the needs and future of our children first, and reintroduce the non-instrumentality proposal to the School Board. You know the rest of the story.
Over the next 45 days, we (ULGM) were categorically painted as an anti-union conservative outfit who proposed a flawed school model that divided Madison and threatened to join the Scott Walker effort to eliminate unions. We were made to be the great dividers (not the achievement gap itself) and me, “an Angry Black Man”. Lost in the debate were the reasons we proposed the school in the first place – because so many children of color were failing in our schools and there was no effective strategy in place to address it even though the school system has known about its racial achievement gap since it was first document by researcher Naomi Lede for the National Urban League in 1965. That gap has doubled since then.
Ironically, two of the people behind the attacks on ULGM were Ben Manski and TJ Mertz. They were uniquely aligned in their opposition to Madison Prep. John Matthews even weighed in on video with his comments against us, but at least he told a story that was 80% consistent with the events that actually transpired. Watch the video and listen to the reason he gave for why he didn’t support Madison Prep. He didn’t call us union haters or teacher bashers. He knew better. So why all the fuss now? Why have those who knew exactly what went on in these negotiations not told the true story about what really happened with Madison Prep? Why has a charter school proposal been made the scapegoat, or defining lever, in a school board race where there are so many other more important issues to address?
If all it takes to win a seat on the school board now is opposition to charter schools, rather than being someone who possesses unique experiences and qualifications to serve our now majority non-white and low-income student body and increasingly challenged schools, we should all worry about the future of our children and public schools.
So, for those who were unaware and those who’ve been misleading the public about Madison Prep and the Urban League, I hope you at least read this account all the way through and give all of the candidates in this school board election the opportunity to win or lose on their merits. Falsehoods and red herrings are not needed. They don’t make our city or our school district look good to the observing eye. Let’s be honest and accurate in our descriptions going forward.
Thank you for reading.
We continue to move forward for our children and are more determined than ever to serve them well.
Strengthening the Bridge Between Education and Work
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Invest in the Urban League
Urban League 2012 Third Quarter Progress Report
The Memorandum from Kaleem Caire to John Matthews (Madison Teachers, Inc)
Date: August 23, 2011
To: Mr. John Matthews, Executive Director, Madison Teachers, Inc.
From: Kaleem Caire, President & CEO, Urban League of Greater Madison
cc: Mr. Steve Goldberg, President, CUNA Foundation; Mr. David Cagigal, Vice Chair, Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM); Ms Laura DeRoche-Perez, Charter School Development Consultant, ULGM; Mr. David Hase, Attorney, Cooke & Frank SC
Re: Discussion about potential MTl-Madison Prep Relationship
I sincerely appreciate your openness to engaging in conversation about a possible relationship between MTI and Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men. We, ULGM and Madison Prep, look forward to determining very soon what the possibilities could be.
Please accept his memo as a means to frame the issues.
- The Urban League of Greater Madison initially pursued a non-instrumentality public charter school
focused on young men to, first and foremost, eliminate the academic and graduate gaps between young people of color and their white peers, to successfully prepare greater percentages of young men of color and those at-risk for higher education, to significantly reduce the incarceration rate among young adult males of color and to provide an example of success that could become a learning laboratory for
educators, parents and the Greater Madison community with regard to successful ly educating young men, regardless of th eir race or socio-economic status.
- We are very interested in determining how we can work with MTI while maintaining independence with regard to work rules, operations, management and leadership so that we can hire and retain the best team possible for Madison Prep, and make organizational and program decisions and modifications as necessary to meet the needs of our students, faculty, staff and parents.
- MTl’s collective bargaining agreement with the Madison Metropolitan School District covers many positions within the school system. We are interested in having MTI represent our teachers and guidance counselors. All other staff would not be represented by MTI.
- The collective bargaining agreement between MTI and Madison Prep would be limited to employee wages and benefits. Madison Prep teachers would select a representative among them, independent of Madison Prep’s leadership, to serve as their union representative to MTI.
I look forward to discussing this with you and members of our teams, and hearing what ideas you have for the
relationship as well.
President & CEO
336K PDF Version
Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School (Rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board).
Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman on “the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment.“.
John Matthews, Madison Teachers, Inc.
Kaleem Caire, Madison Urban League
The rejected Studio Charter School.
2013 Madison School Board Elections.
Update: Matthew DeFour’s article on Caire’s message:
Lucy Mathiak, who was on the board in 2011, also didn’t dispute Caire’s account of the board action, but couldn’t recall exactly what happened in the board’s closed sessions.
“Did (the Urban League) jump through many hoops, provide multiple copies of revised proposals upon request, meet ongoing demands for new and more detailed information? Yes,” Mathiak said. “It speaks volumes that Madison Prep is being used to smear and discredit candidates for the School Board and used as a litmus test of political worthiness.”
Matthews said the problems with Madison Prep resulted from Caire’s proposal to hire nonunion staff.
“What Kaleem seems to have forgotten, conveniently or otherwise, is that MTI representatives engaged in several discussions with him and several of his Board members, in attempt to reach an amicable resolution,” Matthews said. “What that now has to do with the current campaign for Board of Education, I fail to see. I know of no animosity among the candidates or their campaign workers.”
Passman and other board members who served at the time did not return a call seeking comment.
Can you have a public discussion on closing the achievement gap in Madison without inviting Kaleem Caire, the architect of a would-be charter school plan that pushed the issue of the Madison School District’s persistent race-based gap to the front burner of local civic debate?
Caire, CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, is not on the roster for the March 13 installment of Ed Talks Wisconsin, a UW-Madison-sponsored series on current education topics, when a Madison panel will discuss “Closing the Achievement Gap: Toward a Community-Wide K12 Agenda.”
Joel Rogers, director of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, the equity advocacy group that organized the achievement gap panel discussion, said Monday that the presentation was conceived as a response to Caire’s education forum featuring such lights of the “school reform” movement as Geoffrey Canada, John Legend and Howard Fuller. At that two-day event last December, people heard a lot of talk promoting charter schools and greater teacher accountability as the answer to lagging performance by students of color.
“We wanted voices of people who think that, whatever its defects, public education is important in the 21st century,” Rogers said, adding that Madison Mayor Paul Soglin urged him to organize a program.
For his part, Soglin said that Caire has organized a number of discussions, like December’s “Educate to Elevate,” and “he did not invite anyone with different opinions on charter schools to participate.”
The achievement gap presentation in Ed Talks was in response to the Urban League’s education summit, but other programs in the eight-day series were suggested by a variety of other groups as early as last fall, organizer Sara Goldrick-Rab [SIS], an associate professor in the School of Education, told me.
The final event on March 21 is part of a two-day educational policy conference that the university has hosted for years, she said.
Ed Talks is funded by some $5,000 in donations from a variety of university entities, but some $8,000 in funding for the educational policy conference includes $300 from the local branch of the American Federation of Teachers and $500 from WEAC, Goldrick-Rab said.
When Sarah Manski pulled out of the school board race because her husband was accepted to graduate school in California, many asked, myself included, why would she wait until after the primary to do so?
Now we know: It was all part of a plan to silence Ananda Mirilli, restorative justice manager at the YWCA in Madison, and also a person of color. Mirilli was unfairly and falsely targeted by Sarah Manski and her husband Ben as someone who was part of a movement to privatize public schools.
When I heard about this, I immediately assumed several members of Madison’s white elite progressive community was behind this. I believe that there is a movement in this community to silence anyone that doesn’t walk in lockstep with the status quo. They will trample over voices of color in order to preserve it.
I was accused by some of rushing to judgment. Yet I have not heard any of these people call for an investigation into who else knew about Manski’s plan and when.
In my last column, I wrote that Madison’s communities of color needed to become involved and engaged. They need to get off the sidelines and get in the game.
What I failed to add to that was it’s also hard to become a part of the game when it’s rigged against you.
If these had been two Republicans placing first and second in this primary with a Democrat finishing third under the same circumstances, progressives would be storming the Capitol right now. There would be hard-hitting editorials in progressive newspapers accusing conservatives of rigging elections, not the fluff pieces that we’ve been reading.
Madison’s communities of color are constantly told by white progressives that people like Governor Scott Walker, radio talk show host Vicki McKenna and blogger Dave Blaska are the enemy. While some may agree, they haven’t been the ones silencing, patronizing and marginalizing folks of color in Madison. That distinction belongs to the liberal establishment in this community.
You have consistently done the most harm to us, and it stinks. We’re tired of it.
As a former Urban League board member and chair, I am also disgusted by the way this organization has been treated by some of Madison’s political establishment. The Urban League has been at the forefront of many issues concerning the disenfranchised and people of color in this community, in particular, education. Yet over the past couple of years they have been treated like garbage.
Ever since CEO Kaleem Caire shined a bright light on an achievement gap and low graduation rates for students of color that has plagued the Madison Metropolitan School District for decades — even offering an idea to help to address it — Caire has been painted as a right-wing operative with the intent to privatize and destroy public schools. Almost anyone else who supported Madison Prep has been labeled the enemy because communities of color are asking for a better future for their children.
The smear campaign began with Nichele Nichols failed run for school board last year, and now Mirilli this year.
While I’m angry about what happened to Mirilli, I’m also happy she decided not to run as a write-in candidate. She had no chance of winning and running would have made white progressives in this city feel better about themselves.
They’d say, “At least she had a chance.”
Make no mistake about it: She had no chance. Everyone knows it.
I understand that it’s not fair to paint all white liberal progressives in Madison with a broad brush. Many are just as outraged by what’s been happening to folks of color in this community as we are.
If you sit by and watch while it happens and fail to stand up for what’s right, you become just as complicit as the ones who are doing it.
To the communities of color in Madison, I say this: Don’t forget what happened here. If there was ever a time to organize and become engaged, it is now.