Thank you Council Members for holding this important hearing. I am Lamont Clark Treasurer of the Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan PTSO and parent of one son who is a 1st grader at the school currently. My second son will begin attending the school in the fall.
As the father of two black boys I am acutely aware of the potential perils of their education or lack of it. My oldest son loves to touch things and explore his surroundings what educators would call a physical or kinesthetic learner. However in the traditional classroom children are expected to learn by sitting in their chairs and listening to the teacher – not by exploring.
Unfortunately, when a child’s learning style doesn’t match with the teaching style, trouble occurs. Young black boys can quickly get labeled ‘special ed’ if their learning style does not match traditional methods. Moreover, educational experts have noted that kids as young as eight or nine years old may lose interest in school and by fourth grade African American boys particularly experienced a sharp decline in their test scores.
As we all know, these same young African American boys go on to have lower high school graduation rates, a greater likelihood of going to prison and higher mortality rates from homicide. I can’t, WE can’t, let DCPS be a pipeline to DYRS.
But Montessori teachers are trained to stimulate the child’s enthusiasm for learning, to guide it, and to help the child learn according to his own unique needs and capabilities. That is why I am fully invested in Capitol Hill Montessori and would like my child to be able to attend through middle school. While I am fully aware of the sobering statistics of African American boys failing, I am also aware of studies that find that:
“Attending a Montessori program from the approximate ages of three to 11 predicts significantly higher mathematics and science standardized test scores in high school.”[i]
Another study found that “In East Dallas, a neighborhood in which the high school dropout rate is over 50%, children who attend EDCS [a Montessori school] have graduated from high school at a rate of 94%, with 88% of those graduates attending college. A ten-year study of standardized test scores found that third grade students’ average scores were in the top 36% nationwide in reading and math.”[ii]
Still another study “found that 12-year-old Montessori students wrote more sophisticated and creative stories and showed a more highly developed sense of community and social skills than students in other programs.”[iii]
And finally, a comparative study found that “There were strong differences suggesting that Montessori students were feeling more active, strong, excited, happy, relaxed, sociable, and proud while engaged in academic work. They were also enjoying themselves more, they were more interested in what they were doing, and they wanted to be doing academic work more than the traditional students.”[iv]
For too long schools across our nation — and here in our nation’s capital — have failed African American boys. Montessori may provide one way to reverse that trend. But we can only succeed if DCPS works with us to provide a fully-equipped and vibrant middle scho
[i] Dohrmann, K., “Outcomes for Students in a Montessori Program: A Longitudinal Study of the Experience in the Milwaukee Public Schools” (AMI/USA May, 2003).
[ii] East Dallas Community Schools: Montessori Outcomes [Need more info in this reference so that someone could find the study.]
[iii] Lillard, A.S. & Else-Quest, N., “Evaluating Montessori Education,” Science 131: 1893-94 (Sept. 29, 2006).
[iv] Rathunde, K., “A Comparison of Montessori and Traditional Middle Schools: Motivation, Quality of Experience, and Social Context,” The NAMTA Journal 28.3 (Summer 2003): pp. 12-52.
Parent and Parent Teacher Student Organization Treasurer at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan Education Campus
Education Budget Oversight Hearing
Thursday, April 17, 2014 10:00 a.m.
John A. Wilson Building, Room 500