We are asking Wilson families to email HISD with their concerns regarding these changes. This not only affects our Early Childhood community but our entire school and we must show support for this program and our families.
The official statement from Friends of Montessori can be found here. Below is a sample letter from a parent that you may use as a starting point. If you would like to help, please email the following HISD personnel. They are listening to our concerns. We hope that HISD can reach out to parents and administrators to make changes that do not sabotage the foundation of Montessori.
Wilson Board Trustee Anne Sung- Anne.Sung@houstonisd.org
Superintendent Grenita Lathan- HISDSuperintendent@HoustonISD.org
I am writing this letter to address the recent changes to the Houston ISD’s interpretation of an existing and long-standing TEA policy. I am writing in hopes that this letter and the many other letters you are receiving will weigh on the minds of you, the decision makers, to reconsider the detrimental impacts being planned for.
The recent changes to the Pre-K magnet programs are troubling. As an active volunteer, voter, and community member, I am a strong advocate for ensuring at risk children in the community area have the opportunity to get into a Pre-K program. However, I am strongly against how this TEA policy re-interpretation, with significant retroactive implications, was recently enacted by the Magnet office of HISD.
1. Upon accepting my child into PK-3 in August of 2018, HISD and the Board made a commitment to my family that we would be part of a long-term program. Such commitment was reiterated verbally on multiple occasions as we met with the school and this statement became core to our decision on why to place our girls at the school versus a private school.
2. By not grandfathering in PK3 & PK4 students to K, this will not only impact negatively the students, but also the teachers, school administrators and community of Wilson Montessori. In our room alone almost 1/3 of the room is PK3 and this likely extends across the 8 – 10 PK/K rooms at Wilson Monstessori. How many of these PK-3 students are ‘at risk’ and will have to reapply only to possibly be pushed out due to the changes made? This affects ALL students.
3. A cornerstone of the Montessori curriculum is to maintain a three year cycle to establish community and consistency. The turnover alone for the teachers cannot be manageable at this age group. Montessori instruction and curriculum requires consistency of three (3) years in a room with a teacher. This erodes the very foundation of Montessori at such a young and vulnerable modulation of life for children. Has the administration thought through the amount of turnover and impact on a school when you have over 250 preschoolers new to a Montessori program annually?
4. Any and all schools need a MIXTURE of socio-economic backgrounds to succeed in today’s world. Diversity is not a luxury – it is a necessity to raise children to be capable and ready to take on challenges in today’s world. This policy change will only continue to silo and homogenize the program as middle / upper class families in the district area will elect to go private, leaving teachers and administrators to battle a ‘revolving door’ of at risk kids, lower enrollment, and loss of tuition based students.
5. Allowing wait list students to only enroll AFTER first day of school is highly impractical as most families seek to plan for and secure their children’s education for the upcoming school year with ample time. Reaching first day of school with so many vacancies will leave recent upgrades at Wilson Monstessori facilities underutilized. Classrooms will be partially full, teacher funding will suffer and the worst part is the STUDENTS will suffer as the first days of school which are often chaotic and stressful will only extend further as the school itself scrambles to fill the rooms by calling one by one to parents on a waitlist.
What I and the community are asking you to reconsider are:
1. Existing Pre-K 3 & 4 students should be grandfathered immediately. Avoid the revolving door of students in these most sensitive age groups! Once a child is accepted they should remain for the duration of the three year cycle.
2. Pre-K 3 should remain for Montessori based schools. Maintain the three year cycle for students. I agree that at-risk students should get priority here. They need support not just at PK4 age but also PK3!
3. Notify parents by close of lottery (March – April) for admission – enable planning by school and parents. Do not wait until first day of school and risk a massive disruption for weeks to school administrators and teachers and students!
Thank you for your consideration. As an active voter and community member, I have spoken to over 30+ of other parents in similar situations and they echo my sentiments – we are hoping this recent change in interpretation will soon be adjusted.