IMAC Supports Free Competition in Montessori Teacher Education
Oppose Renewal of MACTE Recognition
In 1994, the IMAC agency was created to establish inclusive accreditation to all types of Montessori teacher education. However, its petition for recognition by the United States Department of Education (USDE) was denied because they said there was “no need”. Unfortunately, at about the same time, the USDE recognized an exclusionary agency in the same field, known as Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE). This MACTE agency is basically controlled by the American Montessori Society (AMS), which excludes and limits participation to only AMS-type Montessori teaching.
The MACTE-AMS agency is currently seeking renewal of its recognition with USDE, which IMAC opposes. We believe that this preferential recognition of MACTE is harmful to Montessori education since it discourages diversity and free competition throughout the entire Montessori community.
We believe there is no need for MACTE recognition and that the USDE regulations should be fairly applied to all. So, the USDE should not recognize one agency over another based on such issues as popularity, philosophical compatibility with conventional education and other distinctions of style and format of program operation. The preferential treatment of MACTE by government agencies, such as USDE, creates a limited and misleading public impression of Montessori teaching. It also tends to discourage diversity, innovation and free competition from among non-AMS alternatives.
We view MACTE recognition as part of this agency’s campaign to aid AMS in its effort to monopolize and control the issuance of Montessori certification in all fifty states. If successful, this campaign would effectively censor out and destroy any effective operation of non-AMS types of Montessori teaching. It would especially harm the public awareness and functioning of true natural Montessori teaching, which is represented by the International Montessori Society (IMS).
On June 9, 2008, the USDE is hearing testimony in Washington, DC on the petition for MACTE renewal. IMAC will be offering testimony opposing MACTE renewal at this hearing, which is open to the public. Contact me directly if you have questions or wish further information about USDE recognition or Montessori accreditation.
We seek your support for denying further MACTE recognition by completing and returning the form below. You may also wish to offer your own direct comments on this matter to: The Honorable Margaret Spellings, Secretary, United States Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW Washington, DC 20202
- Issues of Power, Control and Fear in Teacher Certification
After Dr. Montessori's death in 1952, conflicts arose over Montessori teacher certification, challenging the central authority given by Dr. Montessori personally to the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). In the United States, these conflicts finally erupted in a legal battle over use of the name "Montessori", which was finally settled by a US Patent Office decision in the 1960's. In this decision, the Patent Office held that the term "Montessori" is "generic" in nature and therefore open for free public use. Accordingly, many new organizations sprang up with their own particular type Montessori teaching, each one issuing its own unique brand of "certification" for teachers. One such organization, the American Montessori Society (AMS), became particularly prominent in the United States as a conventional adaptation to the American culture.
In the 1970's, issues of power, control and fear emerged anew in the "accreditation" arena when AMS sought to expand and enlarge its competitive advantage in the field through exclusive government "recognition" of its teacher certification. Quite naturally, non-AMS groups opposed this prejudicial type of government recognition due to its harmful effect on their own certificate-issuing institutions.
Non-AMS groups responded to the threat of AMS monopoly control by offering an alternative inclusive "umbrella" accrediting agency to encompass the entire Montessori community. However, AMS opposed this approach since it would not afford the same economic and philosophical benefit of a protected government monopoly and censorship of all competition. With monopoly control over Montessori teacher certification, AMS could effectively stifle competition from non-recognized institutions whose graduates would not qualify for employment as Montessori teachers under the pertinent state licensing of Montessori schools.
In the 1990's, AMS led the effort for government recognition of its accrediting agency, which came to known as the "Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education" (MACTE). As an alternative to this AMS agency, the International Montessori Society (IMS) renewed efforts for an inclusive accrediting agency for the entire Montessori community as before, which was formallyestablished in 1994 as the "International Montessori Accreditation Council" (IMAC).
Since the overwhelming majority ofMACTE programs are affiliated with AMS, this organization effectively controls all its decision-making procedures. Recognizing MACTE in certifying Montessori teachers, without recognizing the IMAC agency as well, would therefore set up a government censorship of all non-AMS types of Montessori teaching.
In sum, resolving the issues of power, control and fear in Montessori teacher certification must necessarily begin by addressing the harmful effects of preferential government treatment of the MACTE agency. IMAC therefore urges all government agencies to oppose MACTE efforts for its exclusive recognition under their various laws and regulations affecting the operation of Montessori education.