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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: