IMAC testifies before US Department of Education
On June 9, 2008, Lee Havis testified for IMAC before the US Department of Education, opposing the continuing government recognition of the Montessori Acreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE). He specifically pointed out the harmful result of this recognition on progress and development of Montessori education, emphasizing the negative effects of this recognition on free competition, innovation and diversity of expression in the field.
At the hearing, Lee pointed out that MACTE recognition was unfair to IMAC, which was denied recognition because the Department said there was “no need”. Lee argued that in the same way, there was no need for MACTE recognition as well, since its primary purpose was not to obtain student tuition assistance through federal funds, but rather to serve the interests of the American Montessori Society (AMS). He said “AMS has for many years been seeking to monopolize and control the issuance of Montessori certification at the state level. MACTE recognition is just an element in this campaign to further the self-serving interests of this organization and its conventional type of Montessori teaching. We believe that quality in Montessori education comes through competition and free expression, not through government censorship of unpopular or controversial alternatives.”
Some committee members agreed with the IMAC testimony, expressing concern about the harmful effects of favoring the AMS-type philosophy over others in the field. Nevertheless, the USDE staff emphasized that its recognition did not concern itself with these issues, stating that gaining government sanction was a common and accepted practice of many accrediting agencies.
Following the hearing, the committee voted unanimously to continue MACTE recognition for a further 5-year period of time, requiring an interim report before then to review certain technical issues in meeting the USDE criteria.
After the hearing, Lee indicated that the recognition is only final when the Secretary makes the final decision. Therefore, he intends to appeal the committee’s decision, and encourages others who favor the IMAC position to sign the petition, and contact the Secretary directly to further support for freedom and fairness in the recognition of Montessori accreditation. Submit comments to: The Hon. Margaret Spellings, Secretary, United State Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave., SW Washington, DC 20202.