Magazine article Montessori Life

NCMPS and Early Learning

Magazine article Montessori Life

NCMPS and Early Learning

Article excerpt

In the 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama began to make the case for expanding early education. He called on Congress to increase spending for early learning, to make preschool available for every child.

As a result of the President's speech, policy makers, foundations, and the media began to pay attention to early learning programs and policies. At the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS), we took advantage of the spotlight to make the case that Montessori education should be a full participant in any discussion about high-quality preschool. Our goal was to raise awareness that a program of early learning with a long history of success already existed.

At the same time, we wanted to make sure that policy makers realized that certain rules and regulations surrounding preschool could eliminate Montessori education as an option. Well-intentioned regulations that hinder mixed-age groupings and larger class sizes, for example, could greatly inhibit or even destroy the possibility of highquality, fully implemented Montessori.

Consequently, for the past year Montessori from birth though age 6 has been a key focus of our work at NCMPS. All four clusters of our workadvocacy, implementation assistance, research and dissemination, and convening and networking-have been engaged to further our efforts.

Our advocacy work has encompassed meetings with senior staff at the U.S. Department of Education, participating in a panel on early learning at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Conference, providing information on Montessori pedagogy and outcomes to congressional staff, and writing briefs and position papers to be shared with federal, state, and local policy makers.

We also have worked with colleagues across the Montessori landscape to address issues surrounding the various Quality Rating Improvement Systems (QRIS)-designed to assess, communicate, and improve the level of quality in early care and education-that have been created or are in development.

The goal of QRIS is a worthy one, but the problem is in the metrics used to gauge quality. Some QRIS scales frown upon the absence of Legos, materials for pretend play, and dolls or action figures in the classroom-as a result, a high-quality Montessori program can get a lower score than an average daycare center. Many QRIS fail to recognize the value of a Montessori credential, even though the number of hours required to obtain the Montessori credential far surpasses most other early childhood education training programs. …

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