Are Montessori schools becoming a weapon and a part of the systemic strategy to produce inequality?
Montessori schools do not imply sensitivity to diversity. Dr. Maria Montessori may have intended her schools to be diversity-sensitive. Dr. Montessori understood the necessity of encounters with other different cultures and how interculturalism leads to responsible citizenship (Certini, 2012). However, systemically, Montessori schools are only accessible to a specific socioeconomic statute of citizens, due to affordability and transportation. Montessori is extremely expensive. For example, one Montessori cost $14,800 per school year per child. There is a rarity for any poor/near-poor to the lower-middle-class citizen to afford the tuition of $1,480 a month. It becomes rarer for single-parent or multi-child families.
From a racial and socioeconomic perspective, the Black community suffers significantly from this educational disparity. In 2014, the U.S. median adjusted income for households headed by Black people was $43,300 (Journal of Pan African Studies, 2017). As of 2019, the U.S. median adjusted income for households headed by Black people was $45,438. Whether in 2014 or 2019, If one of these black families decided to send one of their children to Montessori, the household income would drop to $28,500 – $30,638. The implication from this data is Montessori is not providing the racially or socioeconomically diverse environment for inclusivity in human behavior and social development.
As a school teacher, I make $48,000 a year. I am considered lower to the middle class and no longer qualify for certain assistance and scholarships for my children. According to the people to determine socioeconomic status, I can somehow afford Montessori school. Let's do some simple math: Monthly income: $4,000 - Rent: $1,300 - Auto Loan(1): $ 475 - Auto Loan (2): $310 - Auto Insurance: $101 - Utilities: $200 = $1,614 left. I have not included medical and dental insurance, food clothing, and other basic expenses. I have two children old enough for Montessori school. I make too much for government assistance, such as Medicare and WIC. As a loving parent, I cannot afford to give my child the best learning environment.
There is no wonder that despite the fact that parents have little understanding or comprehension of the complexity and difficulty of the Montessori method, the number of parents choosing to enroll their child into a Montessori has increased significantly through the years (Hiles, 2018). Black students make up 27% of student enrollment in the 300 legally recognized Montessori schools in the US. If black people cannot afford to go to their children's schools, we can segregate by class and force black students that can afford Montessori education to assimilate.
Certini, R. (2012). The intelligent search: some considerations on the montessori method. Studi Sulla Formazione, 15(2), 7–12.
Debs, Mira. (2016). Racial and Economic Diversity in U.S. Public Montessori Schools. Journal of Montessori Research.
The black and white in America: views on race and inequality, Worlds Apart. (2017). Journal of Pan African Studies, 10(3), 397.
Hiles, E. (2018). Parents’ Reasons for Sending Their Child to Montessori Schools. Journal of Montessori Research, 4(1), 1–13.