Here’s another piece of “Montessori On the Move” news that came out of a Congress session.
For years—make that decades—Montessori in the United States has operated mostly outside the regulatory and academic framework which supports, oversees—and constrains! “mainstream” education and child care programs. Montessori schools in most states have struggled with regulations designed to protect children from overcrowded, poorly supervised, and low-enrichment environments. (It’s no wonder daycare can at times be as dismal as it is, given the low pay, low respect career path it is in our culture, but that’s a different post.) Regulators look at our classrooms of 28 or more children with glass pitchers and no dress-up area and don’t know what box to put us in.
The exciting news is that AMI-USA and AMS have joined forces on a national Montessori advocacy endeavor called the State Public Policy Project. The multi-year, multi-state project has ambitions goals:
- to improve the regulatory environment for Montessori schools
- to raise Montessori awareness in the pubic policy world
- to attract the notice and support of mainstream academia
Beginning in March 2012, AMI-USA hired Public Policy Project Manager Jaye Espy, who helped organize state coalitions in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, and Texas. Illinois and South Carolina formed coalitions in January 2013, and eight more states (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and Tennessee) came on board this year. Coalitions in each state are co-chaired by representatives for AMI and AMS, and often work with existing state Montessori associations.
Here’s a sampling of work that’s happening in several states:
Colorado: The Colorado Montessori Association has built a relationship with a state Senator and has an alternative licensure bill for Montessori teachers coming up in the January session. They have also made Montessori part of the QRIS (a widespread child-care rating system) conversation.
Maryland: Montessori Schools of Maryland has managed to get special considerations for Montessori schools written directly into the state child care regulations, effectively recognizing AMI and AMS training as fulfilling qualification requirements, allowing larger class sizes, and validating Montessori classroom work as “a balanced schedule of daily activities”.
Connecticut: Montessori Schools of Connecticut (MSC) Heads of School formed the Connecticut Montessori Advocacy Coalition (CTMAC) under the MSC. This group of Montessorians with diverse trainings and backgrounds developed a set of common talking points describing ideal, authentic Montessori practice. CTMAC is working with Connecticut Associatiobn of Independent Schools (CAIS) on an accreditation process for Montessori 3-6 programs as schools, in place of regulation by the Department of Public Health.
More to come in another post. Also, QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement System): What is it, why does it matter, and how are AMI and AMS working together to help state coalitions respond? More information coming soon!