Board makes rules tighter for nonpublic schools

March 25, 1998|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

The State Board of Education yesterday tightened regulations governing Montessori and other nonpublic schools in Maryland.

The changes clarify which schools qualify as Montessori and require that they employ teachers who have not only a bachelor's degree or 120 credit hours, but also a Montessori diploma.

"It's a very established curriculum that can really only be implemented by trained and qualified teachers," said Virginia Cieslicki, chief of the education department's office of nonpublic schools.

The changes in regulations also stipulate that all nonpublic schools must have teachers with bachelor's degrees or 120 semester hours of college credit. There is an exception for high school teachers who teach subjects other than math, English, science or social studies, and for teachers hired before July.

Montessori is a nontraditional approach, geared largely to early childhood but growing more popular in elementary grades. Building on a child's stages of development, Montessori schools allow children to "discover" what they need to know rather than have it dictated to them.

Montessori diplomas are usually earned at independent institutes or through colleges and universities that have partnerships with Montessori schools, as do several in this area.

There were 72 approved Montessori programs in Maryland last year, and representatives of many helped devise the changes.

One Montessori educator who opposed them was Lee Harvis, director of the International Montessori Society in Silver Spring. He said the changes would "require government interpretation of written curriculum, qualifications of teachers, instructional methods, materials and other intimate aspects" of the schools.

He said his organization does not require a Montessori diploma, but rather hires staff based on skill and commitment.

Pub Date: 3/25/98

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