I worked with Caire when he headed the Urban League of Greater Madison and on his effort to launch Madison Prep, the earnest but quixotic attempt to address Madison’s embarrassing racial achievement gap. The failure to launch that school was a bitter blow. And the gap has remained unchanged.
Madison Prep failed because the teachers’ union and other supporters of the educational status quo were motivated and powerful. But they are not invincible. Caire discovered that the best way to battle those who stand in opposition to righteous change is not to meet them head on, but to adroitly scoot around them.
It also helps to enlist allies.
Allies like the legendary Pleasant Rowland, who just donated $14 million to help address Madison’s stark racial reality by expanding Caire’s One City Schools to a bigger, better building in Monona. Like Caire, I am a Madisonian, born and raised, and cannot think of anyone who’s had a greater impact on our city in modern times than Rowland and her husband, Jerry Frautschi. There is simply no precedent for such philanthropy in Madison’s history. None. Rowland and Frautschi deserve a statue at the head of State Street, once we elect leaders who can figure out how to fix Madison’s shabby aorta.
Caire has other allies, like the UW System’s Office of Educational Opportunity. This entity moved to alter the painful reality that its flagship university is in a town with one of the worst racial gaps in America. So, they chartered One City Schools. Yes, the C word. Charter.
Notes and links on Kaleem Caire.
2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results
Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarcer