are waldorf and montessori elitist? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 22 Old 05-29-2003, 06:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am looking into schools for my baby because from everything I have heard , if you want to get into a magnet school of choice in the chicago public school system , you have to get an early start. I have also been researching Waldorf and Montessori programs. They seem like great schools on paper - the philosophies etc ....my main concern is the amount of money these schools cost! We are making enough money so that I do not even qualify for student loans at this point , but we are barely make it some months (with rent, groceries etc....) How diverse can these schools be if they are charging so much money to attend? Just curious ....thanks for any input!
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#2 of 22 Old 05-29-2003, 07:33 PM
 
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We homeschool, so you can take this as the opinion of someone who doesn't use either system. (But I have done a bit of research on Waldorf, and my dd attended a Montessori preschool)

I think you have to judge each school on it's own personal merits. Sure, I believe there are some Waldorf and Montessori school which are elitest and cater to "drop-off" parents. There are also some wonderful magnet or charter (public) schools which employ or gain inspiration from Waldorf or Montessori methods which have a diverse student population, and truly embrace the differences. I would check out what besides private is available in your area. We're in California and we have several public Waldorf schools in the area. (We are near one of the Waldorf teaching colleges, though)
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#3 of 22 Old 05-29-2003, 08:04 PM
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I can only give you the facts for my school.......although it is expensive ($660 a month for the grades) 50% of our students receive some form of financial aid.

In a community that is .002% other than Causcasian, .08% of our school's community is other-than-Causcasian.

In our county, the median income is $46,677. Our school's families median income is in the neighbourhood of $43,000.

Somehow, I have screwed up my spreadsheet so it appears 235% of the disabled population of our county goes to school with us but that can't be right..... :doh I'll just give you bare bones, of the eighty kids, three are physically challenged, two more are developementally delayed.

I'd say our particular Waldorf school is pretty inclusive.....but I also think aLOT of that has to do with our ability to give out grants because of a patron, and is probably not typical.
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#4 of 22 Old 05-29-2003, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks ! your school sounds great and I am sure that each is unique. We have such a diverse population here in the city that I was hoping to get ds into public schools but one that is based on more non traditional ways and also a dual language program is very important to me - I want my ds to realize his hispanic heritage and use spanish every day.

I will have to look more into the waldorf and mont programs around here to see what is available in the way of financial aid. Do all schools offer tuition assistance or is it on a school by school basis?

Homeschooling is always in the back of my mind but at this point if I don't work we will not survive At least we avoid the daycare thing by working opposite shifts .....
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#5 of 22 Old 05-29-2003, 10:18 PM
 
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We have a public montessori magnet here, and our waldorf school tuition is low right now (brand new school). ANY non-instituition supported private school is exepensive. Many religiously-affiliated ones are heavily subsidized by their church. So unless the waldorf, montessori, or other private school is affilated with someone who foots most of the bill, then it is pricy. It is also pricier at schools who are more interested in diversity, since the full-pay parents directly subsidize financial aid to poorer families...and the schools often try to use that aid to attract minority students because they value a multi-economic and multi-cultural school. (some just charge more becuase the parents think it means it is "better".) A school who gives out no aid can sometimes have cheaper tuition. i also suspect some teachers get paid more due to waldorf and montessori specialty training...some private schools use teachers with no educational training at all, although most have college degrees. It is too bad more public schools don't elect to use different educational methods!

financial aid does vary wildly form school to school...you don't know without asking! Though some will indicate roughly what % of their kids get aid.

Friends schools (Quaker) are also ones I would check out.
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#6 of 22 Old 05-30-2003, 10:23 AM
 
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In my experience, the schools/staff weren't elitist, but the parents that sent their children there were-at least that's the vibe I picked up (from schools I viewed in NY and CA.) And not just elitist in the sense of $$.
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#7 of 22 Old 05-30-2003, 10:41 AM
 
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WOW CHIGIRL for once you made me glad I live in the Chicago Suburbs. My kids attend a public dual language school. Its in a suburb everyone thinks of as "elite"


But this school is so diverse. We found out that 12 different languages are spoken in the homes of the kids. Are kids are in a dual languge (english/spanish) program. 1/2 the kids come from Spanish speaking homes, 1/2 from English speaking.

I never thought when I moved here that I would be on a PTA where are biggest issue is how to make sure every child is well fed and clothed. There are some very wealthy people here, but the diversity is really cool.
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#8 of 22 Old 05-30-2003, 11:05 AM
 
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because they have to support themselves. Public schools get something like $7000 per student per year around here. The waldorf school is $8800 per year before tuition assistance or sibling discounts. The cost of educating is similar but one is tax supported while the other is parent supported. You can't get around the fact that it costs money to educate (teacher's salaries, health care, building maintenance, supplies, staff, etc.). I wish we had more diversity in our school other than just economic diversity but there are only so many dollars to go around for assistance. Maybe if they ever get that voucher thing going everywhere we will be able to increase our diversity because more children will be able to afford it.
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#9 of 22 Old 05-31-2003, 03:30 AM
 
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My children attend a Montessori school. We are going on our 6th year, and it's anything but elitist.

As far as tuition, our school is the cheapest anywhere within a 100 mile radius, outside of Catholic schools. Most religion based schools are cheaper because they are 'subsidised' through the church.

Last year our school went from private to charter, so obviously the tuition is not a factor anymore, but when it was private, we had a very diverse population. The population has remained diverse.
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#10 of 22 Old 06-01-2003, 07:33 PM
 
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As a public school parent, I sometimes feel frustrated at how the private schools siphon so many children away from the public schools. My city has 6 elementary schools, but only one middle school and high school. Lots of affluent parents send their children to public elementary school, but transfer them to private schools (there's a montessori school, a "friends" school and an all-girl's middle school) at the start of middle school. What this has meant for my children is that they've lost some friends who haven't gone on to the public middle school with them.

Our public elementary had a Waldorf kindergarten, but even within the public school, that particular class seemed elitist because the elitist parents would request it.

I much prefer to save my money for college tuition.
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#11 of 22 Old 06-01-2003, 08:20 PM
 
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siphon? in our county we are magnet from elementary through high school so no kid has almost any kids in their high school class that they had in elementary. Even those who stay in the public system. The non-nbeighborhood school issue seems to be happening everywhere, not just people that leave for private school. I went to a system that had two feeder elementaries, one middle and one high school. And let me tell you, the preconceptions people have of you when they've know you since age 5 aren't all that great either. (the kid that wets his pants in first grade, the one that ate paste, the one that always cried in gym class...people always see you how you were instead of how you are.) But I would always advocate a small school over a large one. And our schools around here are waaaaaay too large. They rent professional sports stadiums for graduations!
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#12 of 22 Old 06-01-2003, 08:46 PM
 
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daylily,

In the case of Waldorf and Montessori schools (and perhaps some other philosophically-based schools) it's not a question of the students being "siphoned" because the parents have the $ to send the kids to private schools. In many cases, the parents reject outright the entire structure and philosophy of public schools and even traditional private schools.

If we didn't send our kid to a Montessori school we'd homeschool him. Period. We would not send him to a public school because we do not like the structure imposed on the kids. We wouldn't send him to a private school that has a similar structure because, again, it's the structure issue. We don't want him to be in a set of revolving periods where he's told that for the next 45 minutes, be intersted in English. OK, now Math. Well, time for History. OK, eat now. Now, be interested in gym. And so on. And we don't want him told when he can pee, or to be told that he cannot spend three hours writing his own book because the teacher says it's art time, or to be labelled "difficult" because he demands the same respect from the teacher that she would give to another grown-up--but refuses to extend to the students because it might undermine her authority.

OK, now I'm just tapping into my own personal experiences (well, mine, my son's, and my dhs ). But the bottom line is that many parents who are choosing private schools are doing it not to find a better academic environment, but to find a DIFFERENT learning environment, one that the public schools consistently reject: where the student's intrinsic desire to learn and be respected is honored.

Respectfully,

Mel
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#13 of 22 Old 06-01-2003, 08:54 PM
 
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Oh, yeah--one reason Montessori is so expensive is that the materials used in teahcing are EXPENSIVE. I mean hundreds and sometimes more than $1000 for one piece of equipment.

Also, the Montessori school where our sons will go accepts day care vouchers for tuition for those who qualify while charging sliding scale up to full price (about $5500 for primary, $8000 elementary) for others. We figure for diversity of ethnicity and income, it's worth it. Our blonde, blue-eyed, monolingual boy will be the clear minority, and we think that's cool! Then again, we're Buddhist, so that makes us different as well.

Mel
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#14 of 22 Old 06-01-2003, 10:07 PM
 
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I've had my older son in Montessori for three years. I love it, I am also the product of a Montessori education. I suggest you make sure of the creditials AMI is one, St. Nicolas is another for teachers.
We will be homeschooling this year due to the cost. I will be homeschooling him from a Montessori approach. There are a lot of good books on the subject, available at most public libraries. Just search Montessori, then Homeschooling.
A lot of the materials can be made from items in your home, since a big part of the education is practial life, items from your home enviroment are just what are needed.
We will be making the investment into sandpaper letters and movable alphabet, but that is not necessary for an infant and you can make your own.
Good luck
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#15 of 22 Old 06-02-2003, 09:36 AM
 
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gurumama...you have it exactly right! If I were looking for some type of 'elitist' title, my kids would be going to some over priced private school. What I'm looking for is the method of education they are getting in Montessori. I don't know alot about Waldorf, but I would imagine that parents choose this type of education for the same reasons we choose Montessori.

Most of the time when I mention that my children attend a Montessori school, people don't look at me like "wow, it must be nice to have money". Instead they tend to look at me like I've grown a beard. So elitist is the LAST thing I would qualify Montessori as being.
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#16 of 22 Old 06-02-2003, 10:47 AM
 
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We send our children to Waldorf because we can't find Waldorf in the public schools in Washington. Even if there were a Waldorf charter school, it would be watered down version with the spirituality stripped from it. Waldorf is where we want to be. It is great for our children and the community is great for our family. We have moved close to our school so now it is also our neighborhood school.

Waldorf attracts a certain set of parents but I would consider them anything but elitest.
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#17 of 22 Old 06-02-2003, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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well it is good to hear the positive feedback on waldorf and montessori ...i just don't know that we will ever, ever ,ever have enough money to pay for education. while I don't really like the whole standardized testing thing ...we will probably try to get into the best public school and do lots of waldorfian things at home. thanks for the feedback
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#18 of 22 Old 06-04-2003, 10:20 PM
 
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I'm always impressed by people with babies who are asking such thoughtful and serious questions about their child's education!

I don't know much about Montessori, but am fairly well-versed in Steiner philosophies and Waldorf schools in the USA as well as in the greater Waldorf lifestyle of Camp Hill communities and biodynamic farms.

The local Waldorf school where we live is the only private school that offers tuition assistance. There are parents who drive up in big fancy SUVs and other parents who live in the nearby trailer court with a bus pass to get around town. It's economically diverse but not racially which is mostly because our community is 92% white.

Both our local Waldorf and Montessori schools begin foreign language, and two foriegn languages in grade K. I think this is SO important. Oh, I know there are many studies about brain development and language. Why I feel adamant about beginning languages early (and in an appropriate format) is empathy. I truly believe that an additional language is a gift to the heart in opening up understanding of other peoples and cultures.

There was some mention that homeschooling isn't an option because employment is a requirement. Every mom has to do what's best for her family, and I always trust other parents to know what's best for them. I would just say that if your heart
or your gut or even your rationalization points to homeschooling, you may want to know that there are many, many homeschoolers who are employed. I've met homeschooling moms who are
single-parents; who are in wheel chairs; who are blind; who are grandmas raising their grandchildren ... Personally, I would take a loving mom who was happy about her choices and our life than a rich or revered or fashionable mom anyday. But now, I've gotten off track.



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#19 of 22 Old 06-05-2003, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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teastaigh
thanks for your insightfulness. I feel the same way about language ...it is truly a gift to be bi , tri ....lingual - I am having a hard time convincing my BF of this as he grew up speaking spanish as it was the only thing being spoken in the home.

I guess I am clueless bout homeschooling as I figured it would not be an option to work outside the home as well. Luckily my job is very flexible with the hours as my BF and I trade off shifts at work and being at home with DS ...and believe me I do not work outside the home to afford nice things ...just to get by ...but I know ....there is always a way to scrimp / get by etc....

I am curious as to where you are living ...pm me if you would like
thanks
leslee
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#20 of 22 Old 06-06-2003, 12:58 AM
 
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Waldorf and Montessori Schools were originally set up to help inner city (Montessori-Italy) and working class parents (Waldorf-Stuttgart, Germany).

In this country, these school systems are designed to cater to the elite.

Jennifer Aniston of "Friends" attended an elite Waldorf school in New York City.

I worked in a Montessori school that was connected to a synagogue in Bel Air in Los Angeles thirty years ago.

These schools have lost the sight of their humble beginnings.
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#21 of 22 Old 06-06-2003, 10:07 AM
 
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I don't know about Waldorf, but Montessori has certainly not lost it's 'humble beginnings'. If the traditional public school system would sit up and take notice, and use Montessori methods in the classroom, this question of elitist would not even be an issue. Just because one has to pay for such education these days is only the fault of our local governments. What's important is that these methods work. It's just a shame that most of us have to pay for such an education. The only real change in most Montessori classrooms today compared to long ago is that due to societal expectations, the Montessori of today is almost forced to rely on homework and testing to proove themselves. None-the-less, compared to traditional schools, my children have far less testing and homework. I can only thank God that I have a top of the line Montessori Charter school in my area. Without this, I would be forced to go back to work to pay for a good education for my children. We are not an elitist school. We have children from all walks of life, and from all ends of the economic scale. We attend a Montessori school based on their educational methods, not because Montessori is some sort of 'title'.
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#22 of 22 Old 06-06-2003, 10:51 AM
 
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There are always exceptions so I am sure that some Waldorf schools have lost sight of their origins. Most Waldorf schools have some form of tuition assistance, even very pricey ones. One of the things I have heard is that Steiner believed that parents should pay something for schooling because they will then appreciate it more. I don't think my school will ever have complete scholarships but we are working toward the day where lower income parents will only have to pay a nominal monthly payment.
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