Our two daughters have been enrolled in Juneau Montessori School, which offers preschool and kindergarten classes, for the past two years. Over that time, our family has come to learn a great deal about Montessori teaching methods and have found they are a very effective means for educating our children. It was our hope that our children would continue their Montessori educations in the Harborview Elementary Montessori program which has been a part of the district's elementary offerings since 1994. However, due to what we see as intra-district politics, confusion over classroom availability, and misconceptions about budget issues, the planned and advertised expansion of the Montessori Elementary program has been halted. This in turn has resulted in the availability of only seven positions for 38 applicants for the 2004-5 school year.
Like the alternative high school, CHOICE program, or Tlingit Immersion Program, Montessori is an alternative means of educating a child and in our case it is our preferred method for doing so. The larger issue for all Juneau residents within the issue of Montessori expansion, is this: Do we have control of the educational opportunities that are afforded to our children?
With what appears to be a constantly revolving door of School Board members and school administrators, promises, plans, and intentions are in flux and subject to the discretion of a handful of people in these positions. In the process, the views of parents and funders of the Juneau School District can be marginalized. In the case of Harborview Montessori, an expansion could still take place for next year. However, it will require open minds, flexibility and strong voices supporting it. We encourage anyone who is concerned about education in Juneau to take part in the upcoming School Board meeting at 6 p.m. on June 1 in the district office. Who knows? The educational choices you desire for your children could be next.
Mark and Michelle Kaelke