Columbia, SC's The Northeast News, reported an article concering SC Supertintendent Jim Rex's plan for school choice (The Northeast News, Volume 9, Number 33, 2/15/2007).
Jim put forth three-year, phase-in plan whereby he plans to stage, implement, and open enrollment for all kinds of alternatives...one of them is utilizing a Montessori curriculum.
I have some mixed feelings about putting Montessori in the public school sphere:
Choice is healthy to foster high quality education as long as the public options are FULLY funded by our government.
Montessori education fosters practical skill building, self-control, intrinsic motivtaion, and self-reliant learning (Morrison, 2006; Berk, 2006, Gonzalez-Mena, Eyer, 2006; Charlesworth, 2004; Santrock, 2007)
Montessori is highly expensive to implement because the program requires high-priced training that is offered in only a handful of places. Depending on the type that you plan on getting, it can get even more expensive that that. For example, AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) is the mot renowned, flagship organization blessed by Maria Montessori herself; however, the training is VERY strict and the only place that trains these kinds of teachers that is close by is a locale in Atlanta, GA. Other programs like those promoted by AMS (American Montessori Society) view Dr. Montessori as a natural progressive educator; therefore, they integrate all of the latest theories of early childhood education into her method because they think she would have done the same if she had been alive now. Lots of diversity of philosophies exist between the different types, so seeing "Montessori" as a school choice option can open up much debate between early childhood professionals. Do we really need this hassle on top of the hassles that we already have early childhood wise in SC?
Montessori in many ways is for children who are pretty well-behaved and self-directed. The materials require much self direction (Esse, 2006), so a child with behavioral issues would have trouble doing this curriculum.
Montessori is rather weak on aligning its philosophies with state standards depending on the type of Montessori program that is used. The pure form--like AMI--is the toughest to align because these program often eschew technology and preferrably focus on more traditional skills (i.e. handwriting) than the more progressive strains of Montessori (AMI, AMS, IMS, NAMTA).
Just some thoughts.