MTI Board Statement: One City Schools Ending 9th and 10th Grades Amid Staffing Shortages // News // Uncategorized // January 10th, 2023

January 10, 2023

MTI Board of Directors Statement in Response to One City Schools Ending 9th and 10th Grades Amid Staffing Shortages

One City Schools Should Refund $472,464 Back to Madison’s Public Schools

In a recent Wisconsin State Journal article, One City Schools’ Vice President of External Relations Gail Wiseman lamented the emotional toll the pandemic and stresses in the education system as a reason why they haven’t been able to retain educators for their scholars, saying “Not having enough educators will continue to undermine the education of millions of children in the United States, and thousands of children in Dane County, including at One City Schools.”

MTI agrees with Ms. Wiseman’s perspective that education workers are severely stressed, which is one of the reasons our systems cannot recruit, hire, and retain education professionals. However, Ms. Wiseman’s comments fail to address how her school and other “2X” charter schools play a role in creating an inequitable education system by taking public school funds from their local district’s budget, all while picking and choosing which students they will accept and whether they will fulfill their obligations. Public schools do not have these choices and are legally obligated to pick up the pieces when charter schools fail their scholars.

Also missing from Ms. Wiseman’s message is that One City received $472,464 from MMSD’s budget to educate the 51 scholars that are now being sent back to MMSD. Even worse, if the scholars and their families do not register with MMSD by this Friday (January 13), their enrollment will not count for funding for MMSD’s spring semester. In other words, One City gets to keep almost half a million dollars in taxpayer dollars to educate students they are not educating.

This situation is not the result of any malfeasance by this particular charter school but is related to an education system designed by a gerrymandered Republican legislature hell-bent on destroying public education. They do this by severely underfund mandated services while also funding a second, unaccountable education system on the backs of public schools, under the illusion of ‘school choice.’ This is not out of concern for structural inequities for Black and Brown scholars and families. While these inequities persist, the goal of these Republican politicians and their backers is to destabilize and marginalize our public schools, which 85% of Wisconsin’s children still attend. These policies harm all school districts, but especially urban districts consisting of the majority of Wisconsin’s families of color.

Wisconsin has a $7 billion surplus and has been running a surplus for the last couple years. Yet the Republican controlled legislature has budgeted a $0 per pupil increase during the pandemic and this period of rapid inflation, leading to a bad situation becoming catastrophic. This two-tiered education system sets up scholars and families for failure. This is disgraceful.

The educator shortage exists because for decades, public schools have been required to do more with less – less funding, less support, less autonomy, and less community confidence in our profession because of the challenges resulting from the former. Money taken from public schools to pay charter schools is an integral part of this plan. When charter schools fail their students, they simply send them back to public school. MMSD teachers and support staff lovingly embrace all scholars that walk through our doors. Public schools do not pick and choose, nor can we just shut down when there are fewer staff. Public schools are facing the same struggle Ms. Wiseman laments but there is nowhere else to send our students, and MMSD has no private donors to pick up the slack.

As taxpayer-funded schools, charter schools must be held to the same standards of accountability, transparency, and equity as traditional district public schools. If One City is truly interested in the success of the scholars and families they’re returning to MMSD this month, they should commit to return the $472,464 back to MMSD these scholars and families are returning to. Perhaps they can ask Pleasant Rowland or Diane Hendricks to cut another check to cover these losses as public schools, once again, refuse to turn no one away.