Harambee’s meeting last night was a much more intimate affair than the Crosswinds meeting. Though many teachers were in the audience, none testified. The only testimony was from three parents: Mike Boguszewski, Eric Celeste, and Carrie Dickson. Both the Roseville Superintendent and the new chair of the Roseville school board attended to listen. There were also fewer EMID board members present, including the chair, who had another school-related obligation.
Testimony of Eric Celeste
The board’s justification for closing Harambee boils down to “we have to close Harambee because we refuse to fund Harambee.” This board made the choice to remove both levy funding and the integration funding that replaced it from the school budget. This board failed to develop a sustainable model for financing the school as an alternative to those funds. It is not a funding crisis that is closing this school, and the best evidence of that is the proposal Roseville has put on the table to keep the school open. There is nothing that Roseville will do to fund this school that EMID could not do will a little political fortitude. I am very disappointed in this course of action.
As you know from last night, I nevertheless support EMID withdrawing governance from Harambee and Crosswinds at the end of this school year. I especially appreciate the proposal Roseville has made to take over governance of this wonderful school with its program and teaching staff intact. My 10th grader started here in kindergarten, I love this school and the work its staff do every day for our kids. I am very happy that Roseville saw the jewel in its backyard and will carry on this legacy.
But tonight I did want to say a word about integration. EMID is about integration after all, and our diversity is, as it says on the mission banner hanging in the hallway outside, valued and celebrated.
I fear that with this decision to withdraw governance from this school, integration will become a bit less central to its mission. This will be a loss, and it is a loss both here and at Crosswinds. These schools understand that integration is about more than academics, it is about the respect and friendship that our students form with each other, the understanding of various cultures they gain, and the incredible culture of this school that they build together.
My hope is that Roseville take this aspect of Harambee’s legacy seriously and carry it into the future as well. I see Superintendent Tine and Board Chair Langston here tonight, I am encourage by the attention they have paid to this process, and I hope they will find ways to take advantage of the remarkable diversity of Roseville to keep Harambee as diverse as possible.
As for the EMID member districts, I just want to remind you that a significant portion of the integration dollars you will still receive for being part of this collaborative are designated for expenditure directly on students. Ever since you removed integration dollars from our schools a year ago, this direct student spending does not happen here.
These expenditures are vital to real integration in our schools, and I and others will work hard to hold you accountable for these funds. Please, use your integration funds well, make sure they are spent on students.
Testimony of Carrie Dickson
Shalom. Aloha. Salaam. Annyonghi-kaseyo.
I am the mother of 3 young boys who are 6, 4, and 2. My oldest is in 1st grade. Finding Harambee school, around this time 2 years ago, was a godsend born from a lot of difficult detective work. One of the many reasons we were interested in the school was integration, and the way integration works at Harambee. Students aren’t just close to each other. They are woven together as a community. Because of this, and many other reasons, I was fighting for this school before my son ever stepped foot in his Kindergarten class.
While I stand here today understanding that the relationship between Harambee and EMID must come to an end, I still don’t understand why we came to this point. I don’t understand why this board chose to fund this school differently then the rest of your schools, therefore causing it to be financially unsustainable. I don’t understand why only 1 of the 10 districts represented here lists Harambee and Crosswinds as schools that are options for their families. Why wouldn’t you tell people we were here? I can only shake my head in bewilderment.
I am grateful to Roseville who has seen the value of Harambee programming and intends to make it one of their own. I stand here before you and say, with much trepidation, that I support the transfer of governance to Roseville School District. My anxiety, sadly, comes from a significant lack of trust that comes from fighting for your son’s school since before he ever started there.
I also realize that we are now in a transition. As both a midwife and a teacher I know that transitions are difficult; I’ve spent my entire professional life helping people through them. And from both of those roles I know that one of the most important steps in any transition is a letting go. Only by letting go of our previous role will we be able to see the beauty and possibilities of our new one. So I look towards the future for Harambee with hope.
For the remaining 9 districts, you all face a transition as well. You now face the prospect of maintaining an integration district without integration schools. Integration, as you know, is still the law of the land. Whatever the state legislature decides about funding does not change that. I encourage you to look back at your own district schools. Do you have racially identifiable schools? I bet you do. Do we still have a long ways to go with integration? Oh yes we do. In the important fight for achievement and equity, please do not lose sight of integration. You cannot properly have equity without integration. I encourage you to reflect on the successes of Harambee and Crosswinds, and find ways to bring that kind of intentional integration to your school districts.
I’m going to digress for a moment and say something specific to Crosswinds that was not said last night. While it may seem that the support for the Perpich option is born out of a desperate desire to keep their beloved school as is, what I’m not sure you know is that parents, myself included, have been talking with Perpich Center since these schools faced closure last year… atleast 16 months now. We have come, through these conversations and investigation, to know that Perpich is the perfect option for Crosswinds. Its not just desperation. Its right. We have also come to believe two very important things: that Perpich can pull this off, and that they will do right by the students and teachers at Crosswinds.
Please know that teachers have not been a part of these conversations. They have not had the benefits of time and reflection that we have. Understandably, they need more information and time to come to believe what we do about the Perpich Center. I know that they will have that opportunity.
As we part ways, Harambee & Crosswinds from EMID, I will end with the four words I began with. These words, in Hebrew, Hawaiian, Arabic and Korean mean goodbye. But they also, perhaps more importantly, mean peace. May you continue the ever important work of supporting education for the future of the East Metro. May you continue with a vision of integration for all of our children. Shalom. Aloha. Salaam. Annyonghi-kaseyo.