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The Right Charter School for Montgomery

Decision brings proven Montessori school methods to county public school students.

The Montgomery County Board of Education recently , 6-2, a proposal by Crossway Community Montessori to open the county’s first public charter school. This is big news. Not only will this be the first charter school in the county, it will also be the first public Montessori school in the county.

Other surrounding jurisdictions have had public charter schools for years, with results ranging from spectacular to dismal. While Montgomery County is arriving late to the charter-school party, there is every reason to expect this particular proposal to be on the positive side of that spectrum. 

For one thing, this proposal went through a lengthy review process, with significant revisions the second time through, to win approval from the Board of Education. Then there is the organization that will be operating the new charter school, , which has a proven track record in the community.

These two factors provide a certain level of confidence, but two other factors tend to be the real difference-makers: The conceptual basis of the curriculum, and the quality of its implementation. These often determine whether charter schools succeed or fail.

The strength of the curriculum is a given. The Montessori method is time-tested and has delivered superior results all over the world for more than a century. A 2006 study in the journal Science concluded: "When strictly implemented, Montessori education fosters social and academic skills that are equal or superior to those fostered by a pool of other types of schools." 

As a parent of three Montessori-educated children, all of whom are thriving in many ways, including their academic performance in Montgomery County public schools, I can personally attest to the value of a Montessori education. That is, when it faithfully adheres to the science-based principles that underlie the curriculum. We have found that what distinguishes true Montessori from schools that just use the name, is how faithfully they adhere to the philosophy and curriculum.  Making sure Crossway Community sticks to these rigorous standards is the key to successful implementation. 

Prince George’s County, the District of Columbia, and many other public school systems have offered Montessori education as an option for years, some through public charter schools and others at the neighborhood school level. These programs have succeeded in economically stressed urban neighborhoods with large numbers of at-risk children, and in more affluent suburban communities alike. Now our county will have this option too.

School officials have said for years that they weren’t against charter schools, they were just waiting for the right charter school proposal to come along.  This was it, and the Board of Education made the right call. 

Janis August 08, 2011 at 06:53 PM
Dave, No, Crossway does not have a building. At best they would be considered a squatter in the Pleasant View Elementary School building where they have been hired to run a program. That doesn't give them the right to the building. The building is leased to the Housing Opportunities Commission: http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2011/07/master-lease-for-pleasant-view.html Do you have the right to open a school where you work? As to admissions, Crossway wanted to have a school with only a specific population. The State Board of Education said NO. http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2011/07/breaking-news-state-board-denies.html What's the new plan for admissions to the school? No rumors, please. Let's see the document that spells out the plan. This is a public school, let's see the public documents.
Janis August 08, 2011 at 07:00 PM
To clarify, the documents show that the Crossway group was hired to run a day care for the HOC at the Pleasant View ES site. Running the day care is what they were hired to do in that location.
Janis August 08, 2011 at 07:09 PM
"Private funds" in the form of private donations to the community for those children whose families cannot afford the tuition." That was not the representation that was made to the Board of Education. The above scenario would require families to pay 2 years tuition to enter this "public" school. That's not the definition of public and free for all students.
Dave August 08, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Janis, "Squatters" certainly seems a loaded word to use in this circumstance. When you stated in your initial comment that details such as, "how students will enroll in this school, WHERE the school will be located," were missing, I thought you really didn't know where the school would be located. And you write: "What's the new plan for admissions to the school? No rumors, please." Is it the Gazette article I quoted (which cited the President of the school board on this subject) that you are accusing of rumor peddling? http://www.gazette.net/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110726/NEWS/707269993/1122/1095/First-charter-school-approved-in-Montgomery-County&&template=PrinterFriendlygaz In case you don't trust the Gazette, here is the School Board: http://www.scribd.com/doc/58569672/5-0-Charter-Schools Here's how I'd briefly describe the process for enrollment: It is open to all students in the county. If there are more applicants than spots there will be a lottery. Community Montessori can recruit however they see fit, but if there are more applicants than spots everyone goes into the lottery. That seems to be where state law comes down on this.
Janis August 09, 2011 at 01:39 PM
Dave, Thanks. You have cited to a Scribd document posted by the Parents' Coalition. It is an old document as the discussion of Crossway has been ongoing. The "details" have been a moving target. That document came out before the State Board decision denying Crossway the enrollment waiver that they sought. Yes, the public doesn't know where the charter school will be. Crossway does NOT have a building. They don't have a lease. They don't have a facility. That's why they would be squatters if they tried to open a school at the Pleasant View Apartments where they run program. Where's the document that says Crossway has a building? Lease? Sale? Crossway DOES have a contract to run a day care center at the Pleasant View ES site. Has that contract been terminated by the HOC? What will happen to all of the day care clients if they are booted? They won't be part of the public school, they can't be. No brief descriptions of enrollment, please. Facts. Here was Board of Education member Laura Berthiaume's statement on July 7, 2011. She has some questions about enrollment too. http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2011/07/berthiaume-on-charter-application-fair.html Maryland Charter School law says that a private school can not be converted to a public charter school. The existing "school" at the Pleasant View ES site has nothing to do with the proposed public Charter School. So where will approved Charter School be and how will students be enrolled?

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