How many public Montessori schools are the in the U.S., do you suppose? Where are they clustered? What challenges do they face? What successes have they had? How can I get one going in my town, city, or state?
There are places to go where you can get answers to those questions. The National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS), covered on The Montessori Observer here, has been doing a fantastic job of gathering and sharing information. The Montessori Public Policy Initiative (MPPI), the AMI-AMS collaboration (!) covered here has information and resources as well.
Now public Montessori has a new voice: MontessoriPublic, dedicated exclusively to public Montessori news and information, bringing Montessori into the public conversation.
Or is it a new voice after all? Montessorians may remember Public School Montessorian, the quarterly newsprint publication, beloved by many, largely the tireless work of the late Dennis Shapiro, who passed away in 2014. NCMPS worked with Dennis’ family to take over the publication and relaunch it as a print, digital, and social media communications and advocacy platform for public Montessori in all its forms.
MontessoriPublic was all over the AMI Refresher Course in Long Beach this weekend, passing out buttons and collecting subscriber emails, and you can look for the publication at the AMS Annual Conference in Chicago March 10-12. There’s nothing at the website yet except a place to sign up for email updates, but if MontessoriPublic can bring Public School Montessorian’s reporting into the digital age, it should be a great resource.
That comment the other day about advocacy for public Montessori obviously caught my attention. More people should know about the outstanding advocacy work at Montessori Forward, a website, blog, Google group, and community of Montessorians which make up a crowd-sourced yet deeply researched source for the latest advocacy and public policy news.
Now the MForward community has come out with a tool that could be a huge boost for Montessori Primary programs engaging with QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvemt Systems) policies in their states. You may have heard of the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale, or ECERS-R, a widely used instrument for rating pre-school programs under QRIS. Montessori schools can do badly on the ECERS-R for lacking multiple sets of materials, plush toys, and dress-up.
MForward’s The Montessori Guide to ECERS-R, professionally written and incorporating successful work from several states, aligns Montessori practice with the goals of the ECERS-R standards and explains our developmental theory and pedagogy. It’s available on the site for anyone to use.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from Montessori Forward. Here’s a sampling:
- Montessori Forward was first on the scene with QRIS and keeps a running narrative of Montessori schools’ struggles, strategies, and successes. There’s a great page of resources here.
- Ohio recently passed charter school legislation allowing children under 5, as well as providing state teacher credentials for AMI and AMS trained teachers.
- The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), a multi-billion dollar piece of legislation will be revised this year for the first time since 1996 with huge implications for all of early childhood education. Here’s the post; here’s a deep dive. Amendments specifically mentioning Montessori were under consideration, but may not make into the final draft.
Follow the blog for so much more. It’s an incredible resource.