Diverse Families, Desirable Schools: Public Montessori in the Era of School Choice (Paperback)
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In Diverse Families, Desirable Schools, Mira Debs offers a richly detailed study of public Montessori schools, which make up the largest group of progressive schools in the public sector. As public Montessori schools expand rapidly as alternatives to traditional public schools, the story of these schools, Debs points out, is a microcosm of the broader conflicts around public school choice. Drawing on historical research, interviews with public Montessori educators, and ethnographic case studies, Debs explores the forces that pull intentionally diverse, progressive schools toward elitism. At the heart of Debs's book is a thoughtful analysis of the notion of "fit" between parents and schools--an idea that is central to school choice, which is often marketed as an opportunity for parents to find the perfect fit for their kids. By exploring parents' varied motivations in choosing these schools and observing how families experience--or fail to experience--a "good fit" after having chosen a particular school, Debs makes an original contribution to the literature on school choice and sheds light on the dilemmas entailed in maintaining diversity in progressive charter and magnet schools.
About the Author
Mira Debs is the executive director of Yale University's Education Studies Program and a lecturer in the Sociology Department. Her research, teaching, and policy interests include school diversity, urban education, school choice, parent involvement, and progressive public schools. Her research has been published in Cultural Sociology, Nations and Nationalism, and the Journal of Montessori Research and featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Education Week, and the Christian Science Monitor. In addition to her research in Montessori schools, Dr. Debs taught high school for five years in Boston-area public schools. She is a founding board member of Elm City Montessori School and helped to start Montessori for Social Justice, a grassroots organization of Montessori educators.