Public Montessori Teacher Professional Development, Reading Diverse Families, Desirable Schools: Public Montessori in the Era of School Choice

3/1/2019 – 12/31/2019


This grant enables five public Montessori schools to receive a set of Mira Debs’ book, Diverse Parents, Desirable Schools: Public Montessori in an era of School Choice (Harvard Education Press, 2019). The book contradicts the elite perception of Montessori by presenting a dynamic and diverse history of Montessori in the public sector led by parents and educators, many of them Black, Latinx and Indigenous, who have continuously reshaped Montessori to fit their needs. This diverse demand for Montessori has been challenged on several fronts: by a tendency to prioritize the fidelity of Montessori over access and expansion, a heightened demand from resource-rich parents alongside the skepticism of some families seeking reassurance that student-directed learning can equal high academic achievement. Based on original ethnographic research as well as extensive archival research and interviews with Montessori leaders nationwide, the book offers recommendations for creating and sustaining racially diverse schools and parent communities. Participating schools will read the book and have a follow-up conversations with author Dr. Mira Debs and Montessori educator and equity trainer Britt Hawthorne. Ultimately, the community readings work to support teacher cultural competency by building upon ongoing school-led efforts to support racially and socioeconomically diverse student populations.