Common Core Drives Increasing Montessori Enrollment
Three Ithaca Montessori schools saw record enrollment rates for the 2014-2015 school year, and are attributing the increased enrollment to public schools’ troubles with the Common Core curriculum. Namaste Montessori School currently has 75 students, while the Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca has 230. Trumansburg Montessori School, which has only one room, was meant to have only 16 students, but has exceeded capacity for a total of 17 students.
Laura Gottfried, principal of the Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca, explained to the Ithaca Week that the students that come to her school from public schools are often more hesitant to learn.
“They could come in anxious, they could come in shut down, they could come in afraid to risk academically.”
The Common Core curriculum places an emphasis on test scores and numbers, rather than mastery of the subject. This, say critics, prevents public school faculty from being able to teach effectively. Many teachers end up customizing lesson plans to what will be on the test, rather than what the students need to know.
The Montessori curriculum focuses on the student as an individual, and has very limited testing. Students learn at their own pace, allowing them to feel comfortable with a concept before moving on to the next topic. Because students are in control of their own education, their natural curiosity and love of learning are encouraged.
Montessori schools in Ithaca aren’t the only ones seeing enrollment growth. In Arizona, hopeful parents are camping outside Hermosa Montessori School days before open enrollment begins. With capacity set at 250 students, student placements are in high demand. In Arizona, Montessori education is tuition-free, allowing low-income parents the same chance at opportunity as those who are well off.
There are an estimated 4,500 Montessori schools in the United States.