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A Montessori Charter School For Ward 5?

by Shilpi Paul

A Montessori Charter School For Ward 5?: Figure 1
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education.

As the city prepares to close down 15 public schools, charter schools are becoming more prevalent. In his recent State of the District address, Mayor Gray acknowledged that charter schools will soon be educating half of the city’s children.

In early April, the DC Public Charter School Board will consider applications for the next round of schools, set to open in Fall 2014. One of the applications going before the committee is for Lee Montessori Public Charter School. Lee Montessori would be located in Ward 5 and serve children from Pre-K through grade 6, founders Austyn Brickler and Megan Hubbard told UrbanTurf.

Brickler and Hubbard are currently teaching in the Montessori program at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, one of the schools that ended up on Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s closure list last fall, due to low enrollment.

Brickler and Hubbard said that when Thurgood Marshall closes in the spring, Ward 5 will cease to have an accredited Montessori school. (The Montessori method focuses on individual, self-directed learning in a multi-age classroom.) After an unsuccessful bid in 2012, the founders have been readying their new application and have an advantage this year: they have the backing of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS), an organization that advocates for charter schools in DC.

“For independent applications, the chance of acceptance is 8 percent,” Brickler told UrbanTurf. “For applications with FOCUS’s support, the chance of acceptance increases to 74 percent.”

In addition to FOCUS, Brickler and Hubbard are working with educational and curriculum consultants to help develop a 150-page proposal, and with commercial real estate firm Cassidy Turley to track down a suitable property. They have started reaching out to the community to assess support, in the hopes of finding potential parents willing to write a letter of support to the Charter Board in advance of the April meetings.

Last year, the DC Public Charter Board chose to move forward with four proposals. This year, the debate surrounding charter schools seems to have heated up, and some, like Councilmember David Catania, want a “momentary pause” in the development of charters.

Proponents believe that charters will be an effective form of competition for public schools, spurring them to improve; others worry that if DC doesn’t accelerate their public school reform efforts soon, they will continue to lose students to charters and eventually “dwindle away.” At a recent forum, panelists posited that the rise of charter schools and the death of neighborhood schools may destabilize communities by taking away a natural community center.

UrbanTurf will follow the plans for Brickler and Hubbard’s proposal and update readers if/when it is approved.

See other articles related to: schools, dcps, charter schools

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/montessori_charter_school_for_ward_5/6647

1 Comment

  1. Ward5mom said at 6:02 am on Thursday February 14, 2013:
    The Thurgood Marshall students are slated to go to Langdon Education campus which has had a Montessori program for years. It is currently undergoing the same accreditation process as Marshall underwent last year. So more than likely Ward 5 will not cease to have an accredited Montessori program as they are claiming.

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