Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dwelling in Possibility: A Request

Could you help a girl out by "liking" the Facebook page for the non-profit organization I'm starting that will open and manage public Montessori charter schools?

Pretty please?

With sugar (or a healthier sweetener of your choice) on top?

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Kylie said...

Oh Sara, I would love to. However I don't 'do' Facebook but I am there in spirit.

andee said...

done and done! Can't wait to see it grow!

Anonymous said...

Curious how "liking" the page helps. Truly curious & not trying to be snarky! I have an fb page, but don't use it a whole lot...

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Anonymous: One of the first things I'll have to do when I move to Austin is start connecting with potential Board of Directors. I'll also have to raise money. Both of those endeavors will be enhanced by having a web presence. I'm currently working with a graphic designer to design the logo. After that, I will work with a web developer to get a professional site up and running. Until then, Facebook is a good way to get the name out there and share information related to Montessori.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the explanation! And best of luck on this endeavor. I will head over to my facebook page and see if I can find you!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I really appreciate reading your blog. I grew up in a family that vocally and adamantly supported public schools (and also spent a good amount of time talking about how charter schools are different from public schools). I also went to a public Montessori school. I think your mission is amazing, yet I always remain curious: how can a school be "charter" and "public" at the same time? I'm not sure if there are other readers out there who feel confused, but I'd love to read a whole blog post on the issue, if you have time! Thanks, and best wishes.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Anonymous: I answered a similar question on another post, so I'll paste it below:

A charter school is a public school (whereas "vouchers" are used to pay for private school). Public schools and public charter schools are both open-enrollment. All children who come to the door must be served, regardless of what their needs are. Both types of schools receive public funding per child, based on attendance rates. Both types of schools administer the state assessments to measure student progress. I've worked in both environments, and the main difference is that public schools have to listen to the district office (about curriculum, length of school day, hiring/firing, etc.) while charter schools don't. They have to demonstrate good results, but they have the freedom to decide how to get those results.

Doing public Montessori in a district is very hard. You end up spending a lot of energy fighting the system instead of moving forward in creative and innovative ways. For example, at one of the public Montessori schools where I worked, the district decided that we needed to administer interim assessments in every subject area for every grade level every two weeks. As a Montessori school, we had a very difficult time administering the tests because we have three grade levels in every classroom, which meant we were supposed to administer 12 different tests every two weeks (which left no time for actually teaching!) On top of that, the tests were not useful measures of student progress because the sequence of our curriculum was different. Although our children should all meet the same expectations by the end of the year, they don't necessarily learn decimals in the same two-week period as the rest of the district.

It's those kind of blanket dictates that make implementing an alternative model in a traditional setting very difficult. I also want to have a longer school day, which is difficult in traditional public schools. I also want to move to a year-round schedule to minimize the knowledge loss that happens over the summer. I also want the freedom to hire and fire people based on performance, instead of seniority.

I could go on and on about this stuff! In short, yes, I am absolutely committed to public education. For me, charters are a way to work with the same children but to show the public system that a better model is viable and desirable.

Charter schools were designed to be incubators for innovation, so that new approaches could be tested out on a smaller scale and then shared back with the traditional public system. That's definitely my goal with Montessori For All. We will share everything we do (via publishing curriculum, presenting at conferences, updating a blog, publishing books, working as consultants for Montessori schools in the traditional public setting, etc.).

Please let me know if you have more questions!

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