Cost of Montessori Education

I don’t like to use my blog to rant, but this might be close. We never planned on sending Baby D to preschool. We can teach him to count and read and PutThingsBackCarefully. Then I got to thinking maybe half days in a Montessori Infant Community would be beneficial and not take him away for too long. Then I saw the price. I knew Montessori schools were expensive. I didn’t realize half day preschool would cost over $9,000 per year. That is slightly more than in-state tuition at our state college. Full day preschool is over $13,000, as is Primary. Elementary is $14,000. This school is fully recognized by AMI and looks to be just what we would choose if Baby D did go to school. I understand that teachers must be paid a living wage, schools must carry a lot of insurance, and materials cost quite a bit. But do the operating costs of the school really add up to $9,000, $13,000, or $14,000 per child per year? The first Casa dei Bambini was in a tenement. Dr. Montessori made the materials herself. How did Montessori education go from serving the poorest children to courting families who either can afford to pay that much for pre-school and elementary school or are willing to go into debt? How can we make Montessori education available to a wider community? Peace through education can not come about if so few people are included. Do we need non-profit, donation supported schools? Volunteer teachers? How do we accomplish this?

Exciting Proposal for Public Schools in My State

In an effort to improve the quality of public education, my state is entertaining proposals for changes in the very structure of the system. I am quite excited about one proposal in particular– doing away with grade levels and allowing students to move on to new material once proficiency in previously covered material has been shown. As one district superintendent put it:

“I feel like our system locks students into spending 12 years in school, when some students might be ready for their next challenge in a shorter time frame. It also makes sense financially. Some students may need more than 12 years and some may need significantly less.”

Yes! This step is one of the changes I have wanted to see in public schools for years. Why promote students based on age instead of mastery of material? It seems that this change would lead to improved outcomes– students get as much time as individually needed to learn each concept, and are allowed to move on when they are ready instead of when the “unit” is completed. No more pushing some students ahead before adequate understanding is reached, resulting in frustration and decreased understanding of more advanced material. No more holding students back from the next step when they have understood the preceding material, resulting in boredom and loss of excitement about learning.

My opinion of the public school system in the U.S. has been that equal access to education for all is a noble concept, but structural change to the system is necessary before the goal can be reached. This change would be a very positive step in rebuilding a functional public education system. I dearly hope this proposal is adopted.