A rich history. Energetic, sweet students, including several kindergartners who spontaneously gave me hugs. Teachers and administrators who want to succeed. A good building. I enjoyed my visit to Harambee Community School, and I’d like to feel bad about what the school is facing now.
But I don’t.
Harambee faces its end, after 40 years. And it’s hard to reach any conclusion other than that it is the fault of leaders of the school.
If efforts to bring more quality to Milwaukee schools are going to mean anything, a central pillar has to be accountability or, to put it another way, taking a firm line on schools that don’t measure up, be they voucher, charter, or conventional public schools.
In a tough love sort of way, if Harambee closes after this school year, this probably will be a success for those saying high-needs children need better than what they are getting.
A law passed by the Legislature in 2006 was perfectly clear: To stay in Milwaukee’s private school voucher program and receive large sums of money from the state, a school had to get accredited by Dec. 31, 2009.
Three and a half years later, it was Dec. 31, 2009, and every school that was covered by the requirement had either succeeded or closed, except one: Harambee.