It is applaudable for a private school to want to serve all students, regardless of their financial situation. Unfortunately, the contract is not in line with this good intention and fails to ensure the school reflects the diverse demographics of surrounding neighborhoods, or even the district as a whole. Enrollment would be determined by a districtwide lottery, and the application process will favor privileged families. Even if the school successfully recruits low-income families in nearby neighborhoods, there is no guarantee those students will be admitted through the lottery, where they will have to compete with students from across the district.
This week, the NAACP reaffirmed its position recommending a moratorium on all charter schools. The NAACP argues that, before charters should be allowed to go forward, they must end “de facto segregation.” If Isthmus Montessori attracts wealthier, whiter students, neighboring schools will experience further segregation, draining them of resources and the proven benefits of diverse schools.
Even if Isthmus Montessori admits diverse students, it would not be equipped to support them. The school would have no math or literacy interventionists, no behavior support staff, and only 1.5 staff positions to cover the need for a social worker, psychologist, guidance counselor and school nurse. In fact, compared to MMSD elementary and middle schools, Isthmus Montessori would have 40 percent fewer staff per student, and the highest student-to-staff ratio in the district, by a long shot. Isthmus Montessori also lacks any foreign language instruction, and there are no resources in the budget dedicated to art, music or physical education.
Much more on Marj Passman, here.