Kaleem Caire’s grandfather was one of the first African Americans to buy a home in Madison, and during Kaleem’s life in the city, he has seen a widening achievement gap among students in the Madison schools. During his talk at Rotary, Kaleem emphasized the need for a new model of public education, one he has championed through One City Schools.
The COVID-19 pandemic just shined a light on what Kaleem called this country’s urgent state of education. He noted that currently, schools lack sufficient number of teachers, custodial and other staff, and in most schools, principals are doubling as teachers. Classes are also being combined and taught by one teacher.
One City preschool opened in 2015, and then became a charter school for grades K-4. The plan is to enroll students in grades 5-10 in the fall, adding grades each year. The idea is to offer an early college and career school, and through partnerships with universities and colleges, students will be able to earn their bachelor’s degree while attending One City. Kaleem said he hopes it can become a model for other school districts.
“Our main objective is to transform education and make it relevant,” he said.
Already, One City Schools has served as a model for other districts looking to reopen after instituting remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The charter school was the only public school in Madison to stay open.
“My hope is everywhere in the state of Wisconsin, our children shouldn’t have to flee their neighborhood to get a good education,” Kaleem said.
One City Schools has received a $14 million donation from the Pleasant Rowland Foundation, and its capital campaign is underway to transform an office building in Monona into the school. For information, visit, onecityschools.com
Guests: Kaleem Caire, speaker.
Visiting Rotarians: None.
 Other news:
-Volunteers will be loading school and medical supplies into trailers at Chet’s Car Care on Aberg Avenue. If you’d like to help out, show up Friday at 4 p.m. or Saturday at 7 a.m.
-The Rotary Lights event was a success. Treasurer Jim Elvekrog reports the following gate receipts from the past three years’ events: 2021 - $34,429.87; 2020 - $40,621.46; 2019 - $22,379.84.
Birthdays Jan. 26, Joseph Baer; Jan. 26, Mark McFarland; Jan. 27, Pat Durden.
Anniversaries: None
Greeters: Jan. 20, David Weishoff and Alex Welk; Jan. 27, Sarah Whitley and Phil Willems.