fantastic seven-part series on the voucher school program in that city. It's stunning.
For many years, before the voucher program existed, the private school's record at doing that was strong. Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Joe Donald, a graduate of Harambee, can tick off a list of classmates from 1973 who are successful today.
There is Jesse Wray, who became a Milwaukee businessman, and there is his brother, Noble, the chief of police in Madison.
On April 27, 1990, former Gov. Tommy G. Thompson used Harambee as the backdrop when he signed legislation creating the voucher system.
...In January, Cleveland Lee Sr., a former financial officer at Harambee, was criminally charged with systematically embezzling up to $750,000 from the school.
In April, a small group of teachers walked out in protest of a delay in their paychecks and other disputes over personnel issues. They eventually were paid. Harambee officials said no classroom was left unattended. But teachers at the school have complained that sometimes their paychecks bounced, and one former board member said the school could be as much as $500,000 in debt.
In five years, in quick succession, the school has had five principals and lost experienced staff members. Just last week, some of its teaching staff was laid off.
...The voucher program is a case study for what can happen in the absence of public scrutiny, [ex-Harambee school board member and parent Mikel] Holt said. Voucher schools, like Harambee, are not required to let state officials - or anyone else - see their books. (emphasis mine)
Wow. Yeah, this is a program we want to expand all over the country, right?
By the way, the series was not one-sided. The Journal Sentinel sent reporters to over 100 voucher schools and reported in detail on the state of the program. They should win an award.