In recent weeks there has been a lot of community discussion around whether the district should save or phase out a general education program at Dr. William R. Cobb Elementary School in order to expand a Montessori program at the school (Background is here, here and here). Of course, with the January 8 enrollment deadline approaching, the uncertainty surrounding both programs at this school has created concerns that families who would otherwise request GE or to continue at Montessori for K will be scared away from doing so. In response to my request for guidance for families considering enrolling in either Cobb GE or Cobb Montessori, the Educational Placement Center has created a FAQ:
When will SFUSD make decisions about whether the General Education and Montessori programs will be available next year and their locations? The Board of Education plans to discuss this topic at a general public meeting on January 12 in order to reach a decision about where each program will be placed.
What happens if I put one of these programs on my application and SFUSD decides to end the program or change the location? Will I be able to change my application? If one of the Cobb programs is eliminated or re-located in January, the Educational Placement Center will contact the families affected by mail and telephone to inform them and to clarify their options. Those families will have an opportunity to amend or revise their school or program choices on the enrollment applications prior to conducting the Round 1 assignments so families will not lose the opportunity to fully participate in the Round 1 assignment lottery.
Must my child have been schooled in a Montessori program previously in order to attend the SFUSD Montessori program? The program is especially designed for multi-aged classrooms starting with children at ages 3 and 4. Entry at an older age is possible for a few students if there are spaces but this is very limited. The Cobb pre-K Montessori program is reserved for 60% of students who are low-income. District administrators are in conversation with Montessori experts to determine if there is a way to phase in more new students to the program after pre-school.
Why didn’t the district resolve these issues earlier? Last winter, it was our understanding that Cobb school community members were united in their desire to have the Montessori program expand, we have since learned that this is not the case and are in the process of carefully weighing other options.
Dear Commissioner Norton,
Which Montessori experts did you check with? It probably wasn’t anyone with an AMI credential or anyone who knows the work of the Montessori Implementor that your Board slandered at its December 8, 2009 meeting.
The AMI Montessori world knows this individual and the work that she has done over the past 6 years at Cobb.
She organized the Montessori Centenary in San Francisco, has presented her work at Public Montessori Conferences and forums and is highly regarded nationally and internationally. She taught in Holland and Amsterdam and is a graduate of the prestigious Educateurs Montessori sans Frontieres. She singlehandedly shaped and lead the Cobb project and has presented her results annually at our symposia. So we are well aware of her character and her dedication to your district.
My collegues and I watched the December 8 board meeting in disgust. It sickened us to hear board members refer to innuendos and third hand information about a person who has worked selflessly for San Francisco. Your public ignorance of the program and lack of understanding of the role of an Implementer is shocking.
Our questions for your board members and administration:
1. Where have you been for the past four years?
2. Where’s the leadership and accountability?
3. Who would ever privately fund such bad management of innovation?
3. Do you actually believe that you can mistreat AMI professionals and ever get another program in your district? We all network. We are a small, dedicated and highly skilled community of educators. We would never encourage our graduates and colleagues to work under such circumstances.
Here’s a fact for prospective Montessori parents :
If you want a Public AMI Montessori Program in SFUSD, apparently you’ll have to fight with this board of education for it.
SFUSD leadership is in the process of watering down the program. They have removed and discredited the leadership knowledgeable of AMI Montessori implementation and acreditation.
Without letting your voices be heard, you will be left with an ineffective watery gruel-
We have seen this happen elsewhere with disastrous results for all members of the learning community.
The AMI Montessori Community continues to hope and watches for signs of intelligent public innovation on the West Coast.
You owe the Implementer a public apology!