March 14, 2022
The New Yorker
Montessori was recently in the public eye with Ms. Winter’s book review in the New Yorker of Cristina Stefano’s new publication, “The Child is the Teacher”. Is all publicity good publicity? In this most recent case in the New Yorker, I would have to say ‘no’.
In addition to a review of the book, the piece takes Montessori to task with the familiar claim of elitism and exclusivity. Every time such an assertion is made, an assertion that belies the existence and work of over 550 public Montessori schools, my stomach turns a bit and my heart sinks.
Ten years after the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS) launched, our inaugural project, the Montessori Census, provides the data to help people understand and communicate the reach of Montessori education in the public sector:
- There are over 550 public Montessori programs in 43 US states plus Puerto Rico
- Roughly as many students are served in public Montessori schools as in tuition-based schools
- The majority of students in public Montessori schools are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
- Students in public schools represent the full spectrum of socio-economic status, with as many qualifying for free and reduced lunch as not.
This is powerful data, data that attests to the fact that there is nothing inherent in a Montessori classroom or school that makes it the unique domain of the wealthy. Each time this false stereotype is repeated, our work to bring this transformative and humanizing model to more children, families, and communities gets a little harder. If Ms. Winter wants a Montessori school she can afford, she’d do better to recognize and tout its viability as a public option.
Sara P Suchman
National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector