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Huberman Rejects Near North Montessori Spinoff

It's like watching a car crash in slow motion.  On Wednesday, Ron
Huberman announced the six new schools that he was going to recommend
to the Board for opening next year and the year after.  One of the teams that didn't get recommended was Avondale Montessori, a group made up of several teachers and administrators from Near North
Montessori, the $12,000 a year private school on Chicago Avenue with a
miles-long waiting list and an enviable selective enrollment placement
record.

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The team wanted to bring a free public version of NNM to Avondale, a crowded and under-served community with a big Latino population.  But CPS is turning them down. 

They met with Huberman's staff last night and are holding a protest rally tonight on Elston where the
school was supposed to have opened next year. But it's going to take
some fast action to make that happen. Hard to believe that CPS, struggling as it is to attract and keep talented educators, would turn down an offer from such a successful group as the Montessori folks. 

But, apparently, Huberman decided to ratchet up the standards for this year's applicants, and, in the process sifted out what may have been the most qualified and proven group of educators to propose a new CPS school during the entire history of the new schools program.  And I'm not just saying that because I went to NNM until 5th grade.

It just doesn't make a ton of sense.  They clone Disney and LaSalle but they won't clone Near North Montessori?  Next thing you know, they'll be telling folks from Parker and Latin and Ignatius that they're not good enough to education public school kids.

The other reasons they've been coming up with over the last few days seem equally sketchy.

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For example, they say there's no money, but
new schools don't cost that much and obviously they have money when
they want to have money.  Money for UNO, money for violence prevention.  It's really not that much money to open a school.

They say that they were focusing on three
high needs areas.  But their own booklet lists several more than that --
including Avondale.  See map to the right.

They say that they were guided by TAC
recommendations, but as I understand it only empty buildings have TACs.  
There's been a tiny bit of community pushback against the school, most of it coming from existing neighborhood schools.  But isn't choice and competition what ONS is all about?

We really need to get
this process sorted out.  Did the folks that reviewed the Montessori proposal not know enough to evaluate it properly?  Is the scoring rubric used to rate applications a good one?  Was there too much (or too little) involvement from NNM?  Were there conflicts of interest over teachers or finances among the reviewers?

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  • Huberman probably needs "data" on NNM, Parker and Latin before he will deign to allow cloning of such success stories!

  • according to this wbez update, the avondale folks say they may appeal to the state to get the decision overturned if they can't persuade the board to reconsider:

    http://www.wbez.org/Content.aspx?audioID=37969

    / alexander

  • I am the Executive Director of Near North Montessori School and want to make it clear that we are not connected to the Avondale Montessori project and were not involved in their application process to become a charter Montessori school. The design team for the Avondale school is comprised of only 2 former staff members. As Montessori educators we see the multiple benefits of a Montessori education and therefore support any program that furthers this method of education.
    As a fledgling Montessori school, Avondale cannot yet offer what NNMS offers its families. We have nearly 40 years of experience and have developed our programs extensively to offer such an excellent standard of education to our students.

    I commend Rita and her team for her courageous effort to bring Montessori to the Avondale Community.

  • wow, audrey executive director of near north montessori -- what a fearful, stingy comment to post. is the NNM reputation or self-perception so fragile that it can't afford a little bit of grace and generosity of spirit? you seem to feel the need to distance NN from this effort and to plump NN at its expense.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Touch

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    No one is being smug, but you and terkelguy. Looks to me like Audrey is only keeping your facts straight. You were kind of leading us on, Alexander, with the constant Near North references.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Even as an agnostic, I find considerable wisdom in Luke 12:48, specifically, "To whom much is given, much is expected."

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    another: With great intelligence comes great responsibility.
    It reads as if Audrey has neither. Cold she and her fabulous Monti program BE the reason Ronnie quashed Avondale's bid?

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    jeepers, fellas. The facts were not correct. Please accept that.
    Alex and his gang seem to have a hard time admitting mistakes....

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    the facts were fine. my guess is that near north is worried that a handful of its current teachers will go to avondale, or a handful of parents will prefer that option. but again, near north has so many more families and teachers who want to be there i don't really see what the worry is.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Well, actually Alexander, the facts were NOT fine. You wrote "Avondale Montessori, a group made up of several teachers and administrators from Near North Montessori..."

    Audrey wrote to correct you that there was no current staff at NNM working on the application for AM, and that there was no connection between the existing and planned schools. She closed by commending the people working on the application process for the proposed school.

    And then you insulted her.

    --Danny

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    dear boble reader: the quote, "it's like watching a car crash in slow motion" is from Alexander, who (surprise!) does not write for the Bible.

    Slapdash journalism is like watching a car crash in slow motion.

    Good luck, Avondale. You are courageous, like Audrey says. Welcome to the world of public education and the media covering it.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    They should done like the HDO of Education.. UNO, kiss Daley butt, offer to work the polls for the Daley Machine, pass out pamphlets, collect signatures, make some $$$ donations to the pot. Then Bam! You get approvals and maybe some serious TIF money!

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    i'm surprised at you, danny, taking an authority figure's assertions as fact without examining them. audrey doesn't know what NNM staff are doing on their own time or what their plans are for next year, does she? last i heard, administrators didn't have telepathic abilities.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    I'm usually non-confrontational, but just for the record..because I hate lies and deception from anyone, rather they be a five year-old student or an Executive Director, I HAVE TO WRITE THIS.

    Just call me the invisible core design team member, I never worked for NNMS, but I observed this whole process from the beginning!

    1. No NNMS certainly did not "publicly" back or support AMA, why would they? AMA is a competitor for resources i.e. AMI certified Montessori teachers. AMA would have made NNMS respect their staff more with decent pay, and added benefits, something that we must all admit CPS does a whole lot better than private schools (especially with salary). Just a fact!

    2. However, please know that Audrey does know that there were at the beginning of this project at least 10 of her staff and adjunct staff (current and recently former) members on the design team for AMA. AMA was a DIRECT threat to her resources...just a fact. And whether she knew it or not (she did) at least four (including Rita) of her current staff members were an integral part of the Full RFP process and design team members. I mean why lie? It is what it is. If she would like to feign that her staff has an undisturbed sense of loyalty to NNNMS more than a sense of loyalty to the dissemination of a great and yes Montessori education to children who NEED it..fine, she can continue to live in her dreamworld.

    3. AMA never tried to connect itself to NNMS, the team was who they were, the connection was inevitable. And I think NNMS should be proud that staff that they nurtured wanted to give back to kids who may never have the opportunities that hundreds of kids get at NNMS everyday. I can't imagine why Audrey would feel the need to even respond to this blog. It shows her fear. The fear that people will realize one day that a good education does not have to be paid for and controlled by the upper class, but that with giving and intelligent educators it can eventually be for all..and FOR FREE!

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    I'll weigh in here as an Avondale parent who has witnessed the progress of the proposal fairly closely. My experience has been that many members of the extended Near North Montessori community -- parents, students, former students, teachers -- are involved in the bid for the charter. I've been impressed by their generosity and commitment: most seem motivated by a genuine altruism that extends beyond philanthropy. As I've experienced them, they are acting on what seems like the inevitable outcome of a serious engagement with aspects of Montessori education: the deep belief in the potential of every child, investment in spreading peace, care for a community beyond their own. I'd say that NNM has thus done a service to Chicago by producing caring people who want to share, in the most fundamental sense of the word, the gifts they have received. Thank you NNM community, please keep up the good work for AMA.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    I agree with chiparent's statement. Knowing many of the AMA team personally, as well as Audrey, and the many in the NNM community who are working to spread Montessori education further into the public sector, I took exception to the commentary about Audrey and her motivation. I took it that she was trying to clear up the incorrect assertion that AMA is an NNM spinoff. This couldn't be further from the truth. I work at NNM and am also in support of AMA. One of the problems with the written word is that it can often be taken in ways different than intended. However, to make fundamental assertions about a person's integrity and character based on a few words is wrong.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Well, there you have it. Officially, Near North Montessori is not cloning itself and developing the proposal for Avondale Montessori. Simple. Anonymous2009, you make it seem like there is a great lie being perpetuated by Near North Montessori in stating that simple fact. So what, there are NNM associates involved in the project? NNM has always inspired and supported its staff and their career moves. You even make that seem like a great conspiracy so NNM staff can flee to take better paying jobs in the public sector. And the goofy stuff you wrote about Audrey fearing that the upper classes won't be able to control education if a free public Montessori school is developed is even something a five year old has to shake their head over. But, hey, thanks for adding to the day's entertainment. Education entertainment news. Now, that's a concept!

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Daley's Grifters are running the show!

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Could I just add that as a NNM parent I have OFTEN heard our administrators encouraging prospective families to apply to other montessori schools (with Rogers Park Montessori often being mentioned, as well as smaller schools like Montesorri de la Cita)? It seems clear to me that our administrators and teachers are incredibly dedicated to montessori education and would like for as many famlies as possible to have access. Another public montessori school in Chiago? Hurray!! In an underserved area?? Even better!!! The more montessori options in Chicago, the happier all of us montessori-heads will be. Nothing is worse than turning away a family clearly committed to montessori education -- just because they got stuck with a high number in the NNM lottery. We need more options. Go Avondale!!!! Best wishes to you and your team!!!!

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    The day is too beautiful to argue:-) Alexander's facts are correct, and so are mine. There is a lot more to this story, more that even our wonderful blogger Mr. Russo doesn't know. At the end of the day a great school got delayed but they are not denied. Go Avondale!!!

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    do you mean, READING slapdash journalism is like watching a car crash in slow motion? Alexander, you sure did smash up today trying to avoid apologizing for not clarifying yourself about NNM involvement in the Avondale proposal. Your ensuing insults and suppositions were something to behold. I agree that this site is more about entertainment than journalism. Go with it so we can all take your spurious defamations less seriously.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    what are you so angry about, district299reader? i don't get it. i said that there are several people from NNM involved in the avondale project, and there are. i said that i thought audrey's post seemed fearful and ungenerous, which is neither spurious nor defamatory. i think it's probably you who we should not take seriously, for attempting to attack me without any real basis.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    I am sorry to have hurt your feelings. I do appreciate that you support Avondale and that you admire NNM. However, Audrey was only trying to correct the impression you were giving that NNM was cloning itself for the public sector and that they were making the proposal.
    Read your words. Then you used words such as "stingy" and "fearful" to describe her. Further forays into her motivation brought out ugly assertions such as wanting to "plump" NNM at the expense of Avondale or being "fearful" NNM would lose staff or families when you should know as a 6 year NNMontessori student you say you are, that that is not the way Montessori people view relationships.
    Finally, referring to her as someone who should be doubted because she is an "authority figure" was the last straw. You really need to get a grip sometimes. YOU hurt people's feelings with your recklessness (that's what spurious means). Yes, that is defaming someone. Audrey doesn't deserve that. And the whole issue of Avondale's proposal is obscured by this foolishness. You can do better.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    The real issue is the lack of transparency by the New Schools Directorate in making decisions.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    There was much that went on behind the scenes regarding the attempted creation of Avondale, a major contributing factor being who was and who was not chosen as the new executive director of Near North.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Another issue seems to be the lack of transparency between Avondale and Near North.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    This is what I learned from Montessori: People follow their own dreams. Each may have a different vision for themselves but each respect and support the other. You attacked Audrey without taking a moment to reflect that all she was saying was that NNM is not Avondale. And then she commended the Avondale team and their courage. You started this nastiness because you didn't want to reread your own words that got us to this place and revise them.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    There is no need for transparency from Near North. Their new executive director was chosen, some people "didn't like" the choice, a person was "let go" which led to the proposed Avondale.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    District299Reader, you said you learned that "Each may have a different vision for themselves but each respect and support the other." I can tell you from personal interactions/conversations that, while this is the Montessori philosophy, it is not always the case today at Near North. I have personally heard staff there speak very disrespecfully have also seen and know that certain teachers have had an extreme lack of support from people in charge who were supposed to be helping them. As a Near North graduate and one of Ms. Bergen's former students, this really makes me sick!

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    i didn't know this backstory -- can someone fill us in on the sequence of events (audrey, rita, avondale proposal)? was it contentious or merely difficult?

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Best wishes to Rita Nolan and the Avondale team either getting charter status or securing a fine building for a tuition based school instead. Thank you, NNM, for your contribution to my family's well-being. Jackie Bergen, your shoes are not easy to fill and we love you. Audrey, good luck in your new position. I hope you will keep learning and growing and as a Montessorian, find the good from this blog experience. Alexander, you may not be coming out of this one smelling like a rose, but you don't stink a whole lot either. Must be your teen spirit.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    I agree with much of what District299 has to say. I'm troubled by some of what NNMGrad has to say...inferring that there is some dark story behind Rita's choice to leave NNM doesn't strike me as responsible. I heard rumors to that effect at the time, but I also heard other stories from members of the NNM board that weren't quite the same, so I think that only Rita and the other immediate players truly know the hows whys and wheres. I do know that many at NNM were sorry to see Rita go, but everyone I've ever spoken to about this (including Audrey and other staff) have only expressed the highest regard for Rita's aspirations and goals -- the establishment of Avondale being one of them. Too much scrutiny is being placed on NNM, a wonderful school that has its problems like any other school. Let's focus on Avondale and how we can make this happen.

  • In reply to nnmParent:

    Yes - can we focus on how to allow kids in the Northwest part of the city an opportunity for a montessori education?
    Give the parents a choice and the kids a voice!

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    The decision as to who would not be given the executive directorship at Near North was made well before Ms. Bergen's retirement. nnmParent, there was no choice about staying or leaving, particularly when one was given a limited amount of time to clean out one's office.

  • In reply to NNMGrad:

    Knock it off, NNM grad. This is not the direction to take this. Let's focus on the task at hand; getting AMA approved or redoubling efforts if it's rejected this time around. AMA and NNMS may work together in the future, but for now, let's just all assume they have nothing to do with each other.

  • In reply to NNMGrad:

    I never said they had anything to do with each other. Get over yourself MontessoriFan. Someone asked for transparency and I am letting that perosn know what happened whether you like it or not. I am all for a Montessori charter school, however, knowing what I know about the people proposing this one, I am not sorry that it didn't get the green light.

  • In reply to NNMGrad:

    just a reminder that NNM's jackie bergen party is this weekend: Cash bar and heavy hors d'oeurves. Saturday May 1, 2010. 7-10pm. The United Club of Soldier Field. Attire: Come as you are. To purchase tickets please go to: www.events.org/JackieBergenLegacyParty
    Contact Information
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    phone: 773-384-1434

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    i'm glad to hear that there are many people affiliated with NNM who are supportive of the avondale effort. that seems as it should be.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    slapdash journalism. It's like watching a car crash in slow motion.

    That's not a quote from the Bible...

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    near north monte must donate to some big chicago names. Avondale would have been perfect for the community--competition--not in my back yard. here in Beverly, we have 2 montes right next to each other since the demand was that great. And they all get along. maria must be rolling in her grave.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    slapdash--I know it is not from the boble--it just says 'another quote" not one from the bible. You must be driving.

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