Give One City a Chance

These are tough days for One City school. The charter school, founded by native Madisonian and former corporate executive Kaleem Caire, recently announced that it was shutting down its ninth and tenth grade programs this month and the last round of test scores showed poor performance from its students. Those scores were not good, but they weren’t much worse than the scores for Black kids in the Madison public schools.

Now state and local officials have to sort out the messy question of where per pupil state aide payments will go when the 62 students in those classes transfer to other schools.

The Madison teachers’ union sees blood in the water. After the announcement that the two grades would be suspended, MTI wasted no time in demanding that about a half million dollars in state payments be transferred to the Madison school district.

MTI wants One City to fail, but our community should want it to succeed. Caire has the right ideas but he’s taking on a very tough task. He is focussing his entire program on reaching kids, especially poor Black kids, who have the deck stacked against them. He is emphasizing order, discipline and high expectations. He’s providing structure for kids’ lives that is often lacking at home.

This is going to take time. One City started in 2018 with preschool and kindergarten and has been adding a grade each year. The community should rally around One City, get it through it’s growing pains, allow it to build out to a complete K-12 program and see what happens. Because I think that what will happen will be excellent.

Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

6 thoughts on “Give One City a Chance

  1. Couldn’t agree more Dave. MTI has utterly failed Madison students, especially low income students, for many years running. Alternatives to their approach need support. Pleasant Rowland is no dummy. She doesn’t provide the substantial gift to One City that she did without doing her homework. I am happy to provide a vastly more modest sum on a monthly basis.


  2. One City is a better school than its recent test scores portray. Kaleem Caire puts the needs of students ahead of politics – unlike the MTI. In fact, the easier decision would have been to not close the upper grades but soldier on but they put the needs of kids first.

    In fact, a cross section of community influentials have selected that school for their child. The school leaders including K Claire opted not to put that out there – respecting the privacy of families and youth.

    Of course the MTI is going after the school. Their monopoly and hold over Madison residents is more important than the future of the city and opportunity for families that schools like One City provides.

    There is a growing set of schools – private and charter – which are public schools btw in Madison that are providing choice for families. MTI can bluster and bully on the issue, but if DPI lead by a politician owned by the unions opts to push for this funding, parent advocates are ready to come in and contest this bringing more light to the declining school district and the role MTI is playing as the Madison School District joins the ranks of Racine, Kenosha, Green Bay, Sheybogan, and Wausau school districts decline.

    MTI should continue to drive their agenda of blocking school opportunities and driving more Madison funding to its members as they deliver a declining education for the students.

    MTI only moves the issue of parent choice and opportunity ahead for other schools to grow.

    Watch for more options for parents to select other schools and further the decline in enrollment.

    I for one stand by One City and so should anyone concerned about the future of education in the city limits of the once great City of Madison.


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