Sunday, March 4, 2012

Buying into Montessori

The latest magnet lottery results have revived perennial questions about the popular Montessori schools, which work differently from most elementary magnets in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

If parents wait until their children are approaching kindergarten to apply for Park Road, Chantilly or Highland Mill Montessori schools, they're probably too late.  Students admitted as prekindergarteners have guaranteed kindergarten spots, which means there aren't many seats left for newcomers.

The Montessori schools are the only magnets that accept 4-year-olds, and their pre-K classrooms are the only place in CMS where Mecklenburg students pay tuition.  Diane McClure emailed to ask whether that effectively bars low-income families from those schools:  "It also has the appearance of paying to get into the magnet school."

Magnet director Jeff Linker says pre-K students are chosen by random lottery.  If they're selected, he said, income-based scholarships are available.  He also noted that the tuition of $3,000 a year for 10 months of full-day prekindergarten is well below the market rate.

Poverty levels are relatively low at the Montessori schools, from 12 percent at Park Road to 35 percent at Highland Mill.  If nothing else, pre-K admissions favor families who know the system and are prepared to seize the opportunity.


Continuing the Montessori theme,  the 2012-13 results show that CMS' recently-launched middle school Montessori magnet at Sedgefield is growing,  from 57 students placed in the 2011 lottery to 82 students this time around.  CMS created the magnet based on parent requests,  but there were concerns about whether families would actually pursue the option.  The goal is 100 to 120 students, Linker said.

18 comments:

Wiley Coyote said...

The Montessori schools are the only magnets that accept 4-year-olds, and their pre-K classrooms are the only place in CMS where Mecklenburg students pay tuition.

When we put our son into daycare prior to entering kindergarten, we looked for places that had programs for learning the alphabet, teaching words, numbers and reading. It's what most parents have done for decades. And yes it cost money.

We spend almost $10 million of County money on Bright Beginnings for 3,200+/- students and yet there is no data to support it.

One would think that in the generation of students who have gone through Bright beginnings over the past twelve years, we'd have something to show for it, but - there is no data.

Is there data for the Montessori schools pre-K program?

Anonymous said...

I am sure the results you would see from the Montessori schools would be double than BLIGHT BEGININGS over the years. Then again I would state that our Magents achieve double grade level over our new LIFT program that is investing $55 Million (supposedly) into our title 1 program schools. Then again since CMS is not willing to measure anything or be held accountable for results who cares and why should we as tax payers? Just excuses and we still dont have a leader ! Read Hugh's rebuttal or Tomlinson today proving my point exactly.

Anonymous said...

So glad to see the interest for Montessory Schools. When I ran At Large for Co. Commissioner in 1992 this was one of my major concerns and I tried to promote it but alas, the Observer did not like me and my ideas. I still think they are the way to go and even in High School a similiar program. When I was in Hi School we had what was called DE (Diversified Education) Schools. If a student knew what line of work they wanted to enter, they could go to classes half day and work at some cooporative business that would hire the student for several hours for the credits and pay. I never took advantage of it but others did and it was a great help to many of my classmates.

Anonymous said...

Wiley,
You know the answer by the phrasing of your data question and the "quality" of parents enrolling their children in the program. You also know that Maria Montessori had a century "headstart" plus the usual run-ins with the American educrats in the early 20th century. Your commitment to ECE was backed by a parental contract to support a program. Montessori has that also. Bright Beginnings is a governmental rescue plan.

Anonymous said...

DE or Vocational school ARE the answer. Teaching basic educational skills combined with job skills will eliminate some of the discipline and dropout problems. Another simple solution that leaders do not have the vision to see.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 10:01...

Yep...

When people talk of the value of pre-K programs and how it helps students, most often citing the "Chicago Study", one component in that and other studies is parental involvement, voluntary or forced as a condition of their child being in the program.

As with the Mointessori program, parents are making the informed choice for their kids to attend.

For many politicians and educrats, the continued pouring of billions into pre-K programs is to extend the nanny state's hold over the electorate as - "see what government can do for you?" - mentality.

Anonymous said...

Our daughter, now a second grader, has been in one of Charlotte's Montessori schools since Pre-K. Yes, we paid for her Pre-K year, and though it strained our budget some, it was worth every penny. One walk through her school would make almost anyone wonder why more schools don't adopt at least some Montessori principles, which would be beneficial in most every public school environment: respect (for both self AND others), curiosity, concern for nature, and self-control.

Anonymous said...

I was very lucky and privileged growing up. I was placed in classes for gifted students at a relatively early age, attended good-to-best quality public schools and usually had the best teachers available.

I never taught school and today I do not understand why anyone would be a teacher, especially in public schools. The rewards are few, the burdens are enormous, the opprobrium and monstrousness from parent and student alike is never-ending.

Anyone who is thinking about being a teacher, especially in public schools, should forget it. What an awful, awful job awaits those who would do it. One need only look at the turnover rates for proof.

The crisis in American public education is not about the teachers, except as it drives the best and brightest far, far away. It's about the students and the parents and the curriculum and the resources and yes, the management of our public schools.

So do not become a teacher. Do anything, really, other than become a teacher, especially in the public schools. You will be much happier and wealthier and saner.

Anonymous said...

Your comment is upsetting. A person becomes a teacher because they want to help others. It has nothing to do with pay. I have been a teacher since 1996. I teach art. I know I have made a difference. Maybe I have not connected with each student I have worked with, but there are a LOT of kids I have encouraged. And it has nothing to do with the subject I teach. It has to do with taking interest in the students and opening them up to new ideas.

Anonymous said...

Gosh what does Bolyn say on this issue ? You know his CMS, Chamber,Meck Ed, Pineville attitude needs to weigh in. Too bad his relationship financially with Timmy and gang got exposed. (by me) Or the IDIOT would be siting in D-6 seat. By the way what ever happen to the lady they appointed too that seat does she have a pulse ? Timmy boy you made that bed pal.

Anonymous said...

4:07's comment is upsetting but real. I also love teaching and have been doing it twenty years longer than you. The reality is the job is rewarding but doesn't pay the bills. The lack of respect by parents, administrators, media, politicians and the business community is appalling. If the Chamber of Commerce in Charlotte is orchestrating against teachers in a right to work state to keep teachers in a pay vacuum, you might begin to see the handwriting on the wall. If you had been in the system during the seventies and eighties you would have witnessed the same pay step freezes as we have been living with today. Finally, if you are a elementary or middle school art teacher you should be quite familiar of arts, music, and the humanities as the first victims of any CMS cutbacks.

Anonymous said...

An earlier blog post said that there are CMS funds being redirected outside of the assigned CMS budget line items at the end of the year. Does this mean there are CMS departments receiving more tax dollars than budgeted by the Board of Education? If so, which programs benefit from these funds? Is CMS providing extra funds to FRL, Bright Beginnings, public information campaigns or what? Anne, can you post a report that shows how these funds are spent? Budget and actual are often different and may show very different realities.

Anonymous said...

to 7:35pm. art teacher is a lucrative job in CMS. Our ES art teacher makes $63,000 a year. Not bad!

Concepts Studio - Kristin Rothrock said...

To 8:44 and 9:06 -

I teach at the college level and make $36,000.

I understand that teachers are not paid well and that the arts are fragile in public school curriculum.

In CMS and nationally, there are problems. No question.

Still, I feel strongly about being a teacher. I feel it is one of the most rewarding professions.

Anonymous said...

I attended a Montessori school in SC when I was a child and was overjoyed when we got selected in the lottery for one of CMS' Montessori Schools. Both my children now attend and we paid for Pre-K for both of them. It was a financial relief compared to daycare. The program is amazing and teaches children to think for themselves rather than memorize and regurgitate information. I hope too that other schools will begin to adopt more of the Montessori method. Best of luck to all who are applying!

Anonymous said...

I think a better story regarding the CMS Montessori schools would be regarding the high number of people applying and being wait-listed for these schools. The interest and demand for Montessori far outweighs what the 3 elementary schools can supply. Based on the number of people wait-listed it seems there could be twice the number of Montessori schools in CMS.

Wiley Coyote said...

Public Education Magic Bullets

~ Busing
~ Project Lift
~ Pre-K (BB, MA4)
~ Magnet Programs
~ Charter Schools
~ Montessori Schools
~ Teacher PFP
~ No Child Left Behind
~ Free everything based on FRL
~ Broad
~ Gates
~ Data, data and more data
~ Feel free to add your own here

...so...why do we continue to have dismal results, dissention and the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?

If Montessori schools are so great, if charter schools are so great, why not make every school one of the other or both?

Below is a link to a story by John Hood from 1993 titled The Failure of American Public Education.

It's interesting to read what the issues at the time were in public education - almost 20 years ago - which are essentially the same today.

http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/the-failure-of-american-public-education/

We haven't come very far and as a result, kids are the ones who get the short end of the stick.

Charity said...

My son attended a Montessori school in another state. The tuition was very affordable at $4000 per year for elementary. He flourished there. We moved to Charlotte last year and I was shocked and saddened at the cost of a Montessori education here. Omni is around $18k a year. It's over 4 times the cost of his previous school. We couldn't afford that. I called CMS about Park Rd and was lied to. They told me you had to apply yearly and were not guaranteed a spot each year. They also said you couldn't attend with an IEP. Months later I found out the truth. I am very sad. I find it appalling that the private Montessori's are so exorbitant in price, and unattainable to most. Then CMS offers up a few Montessori's, yet knows that everyone wants in, but they keep it exclusive and refuse to open up more or switch existing schools to the Montessori model. We weren't here when my son was 3 to get in and gain a permanent spot! Its not a nice way to welcome newcomers. I have letters from our previous Montessori stating my child would be a great fit and I had our interview, but the only way we can get in, is if a current student moves. They also didn't tell me what number on the wait list we are. I highly doubt we're number 1. I'm sure they're a few kids ahead of us. We are going to be rising 2nd grade. They only accept kids that old if they've attended a Montessori before. But this whole process is confusing and upsetting. It's not fair to open up these amazing (free) schools, have everyone competing and clambering to get in, shout their praises and how the education is vastly superior and how these students will go far, then only allow a select few in. Isn't everyone's child "worthy" of this opportunity? Doesn't everyone's child deserve the chance to excel in this environment? I'm not happy with CMS.