Sunday, April 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Montessori cost misstated

I would like to correct the misinformation contained in Dave Miller’s commentary in Tuesday’s Enterprise about the Montessori program at Birch Lane Elementary School. I was president of the Davis school board when the Montessori program began at Birch Lane.

The $24,000 that Dave mentioned was the initial cost of the Montessori equipment for three classrooms. It is not a recurring cost, and, in fact, the Montessori classrooms at Birch Lane do not receive any extra funding from the school district. They receive the same district support as any other classroom.

Yes, the wooden Montessori equipment is beautiful, and there is an initial cost to buy the equipment, but the equipment is so sturdy and well-built that it will last for many, many years.

Martha West
Davis

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Discussion | 3 comments

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  • Michelle MilletMarch 27, 2013 - 10:31 am

    Thanks for the clarification.

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  • Michael ZiserMarch 27, 2013 - 10:57 pm

    There was no misstatement in the original article, though Mr. Miller's words could be subject to misinterpretation: "These materials are the reason that the Davis school district, according to its Montessori Master Plan, spends $24,000 per classroom above and beyond what the neighborhood classrooms get." What Mr. Miller said is strictly true: every time the district adds a Montessori classroom it incurs a $24k startup cost above what it would spend to maintain a traditional neighborhood classroom. I myself don't think this is the worst part of the inequity between the neighborhood and Montessori programs--and certainly if the district agrees to start a Montessori program it needs to be prepared to equip it-- but it is a little weird to me that Montessori defenders won't just admit to the easily verified fact that their program has some extra costs associated with it!

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  • Dave MillerMarch 28, 2013 - 9:31 am

    Dear Ms. West: Thank you for your years of honest and very capable service to the Davis community. I appreciate your clarifying the startup cost for each Montessori classroom that was listed on page 8 of the Montessori Master Plan. If you could clarify two further items I think it would help us all understand the district’s policies better. First, do you recall what comparable figure the district provided to a brand new teacher in the neighborhood program to help that classroom get off to a good start? Secondly, which of the Philosophical Tenets on page 1 of the Montessori plan are not included in the Philosophical Tenets of the master plan for the neighborhood school program? When the district carefully spells out a whole child philosophy to be used in a special program it gives the appearance that the neighborhood schools do not follow that philosophy. Since every Davis teacher and administrator I have met believes in such an approach I expected a similar document to also be available describing the neighborhood schools. I found no such document on the district website. This I take as a further sign that Davis is not taking care of the most fundamental part of its brand. As someone who has had the often unenviable position of being in the middle of Davis school politics, would you give us some advice? The majority of Davis elementary parents, students, and teachers are still in the neighborhood programs. Many of them feel that the district’s focus is on the special programs it provides. These people can point to district policies that relegate the neighborhood schools to second class citizenship. What can these people reasonably ask of the school board and the district that would address this problem? Thank you again for your past service and for any advice you can give. Sincerely, Dave Miller

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