RMS represents the community
Fred Wall says he wants the public schools to represent the community; The Ross Montessori School does also. While Ross Montessori School has an overall Latino population of 18 percent, we draw students from Silt to Basalt. If you examine our Carbondale population by itself, our Latino population is 25 percent, while the official census of Carbondale has a 32.1 percent Latino population.
The Ross Montessori School’s Carbondale population more closely represents the official census than any of the Carbondale Re-1 schools. Instead of attacking us, maybe Mr. Wall should talk to me to see what we are doing right. The Carbondale schools had a Latino enrollment higher than 32 percent because of a long history of losing Anglo students to private schools and other districts. RMS has attracted 30 percent of our students from outside the Carbondale area. We have a geographic diversity in our population that the district Carbondale schools do not. Furthermore, we have a combined Asian/African-American population of 5 percent.
While it is great to read that Mr. Wall now wants to “attract Anglo students back,” he could have avoided some of this if he had not eliminated the Montessori strand at the district school. Previously he stated to Randy DeHoff (RMS’s superintendent) that he was “willing to sacrifice” the 140 students in the Montessori strand at Carbondale Elementary School. In 2004, the Carbondale schools had a 70 percent Latino population (37.9 percent higher than the official census data). “Anglo flight” obviously took place long before RMS was formed.
I think he should focus on the approximately 500 Re-1 district students who left the district to attend various private schools in the valley (according to 2004 CDE statistics), in addition to the 452 students who left the district to attend other districts including 415 to Aspen before RMS was founded. These “flight” numbers do not include any students who currently attend RMS or the Carbondale Community School.
It is easy (and inflammatory) to blame and label the relatively small number of Carbondale Anglo students at RMS as “Anglo flight” but it isn’t the truth. In fact, the Montessori method of education is particularly successful for English language learners, and the Montessori philosophy embraces cultural diversity throughout its curriculum. There has been a lot of invalid criticism of RMS, but the focus should be on what Re-1 can do to make Carbondale’s schools better.
Creating a successful outdoor education program is a great idea. We implemented our outdoor education because we feel that it is important for all of our students, not just to be used as a marketing tool on a selected target ethnic group. I welcome this change from Mr. Wall’s previous statement that “outdoor education is not a priority,” as I have been a supporter of outdoor education for over 20 years. RMS would love to cooperate with the district on creating a great outdoor education program for all of the students in Carbondale.
I feel that there are many areas where RMS and the Re-1 district can cooperate and expand opportunities for all of our children. Many RMS parents have chosen to enroll their children in RMS because they feel that the Montessori method of education will best fit their child’s needs. As a parent of two elementary school children, I know how difficult is is to decide where you want your children to spend a large portion of their life and to be educated. I do not understand why many people cannot respect the decisions these parents have made.
I am personally intent on making Ross Montessori School the best school possible for my children and any students that enroll (and we have openings). I challenge Fred Wall to make that his goal for Re-1’s Carbondale schools before he leaves at the end of this school year.
Mark Grice is the head of Ross Montessori School.
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