Private Montessori schools build on decades of success as the one-size-fits-all public system struggles to catch up.
Montessori programs in public schools around the state rate high with parents. Now public school districts are looking for ways to accommodate all the students who want to participate.
Charleston parents are particularly eager to have their children enrolled in the Charleston School District’s Montessori Community School. Unfortunately, limited space has resulted in a short list of enrolled students, and a much longer list of disappointed students hoping for the chance to attend.
Through letter writing, and clamoring at school board meetings, engaged parents have been voicing their desire for expanded access to this type of educational program. According to Dr. Nancy McGinley, the Charleston school superintendent, “Wherever we have Montessori, we have a waiting list.”
Unfortunately, interest from parents has been able to generate only so much response from school districts. The high cost of purchasing Montessori materials, and training and certifying teachers in the method, can make it hard for schools to get Montessori programs parents want up and running.
There is obviously a huge desire among parents for Montessori education, and limited availability of the programs at local public schools.
This is where school choice comes in.
There are many private Montessori schools already serving communities all across the state. Through school choice, parents who want this type of education, but do not have it available in local public schools, would be able to enjoy access. Parents could receive some of their own money back in the form of a tax credit, or receive a privately donated scholarship to help them pay for tuition at a private Montessori school.
Parents receiving these modest tax credits would save schools the high cost of purchasing Montessori furniture and training teachers. Likewise, Montessori programs in public schools would be relieved of some of the pressure of having more applicants than they could possibly handle alone. Most of all, more parents would have the satisfaction of knowing that their children were receiving the education they need.
Unlike the decades-old inside-the-system approach to reform, school choice employs both public and private schools to meet all the educational needs that South Carolina families have. Through expanded access to these types of programs, this state can expect to see improvement in academics and parental engagement.
There is no doubt of the need and demand for this type of equal access. Now it is time for state lawmakers to step forward and make a way for parents to meet it.