Diverse Families, Desirable Schools

Diverse Families, Desirable Schools Public Montessori in the Era of School Choice

Mira Debs
paper, 240 Pages
Pub. Date: April 2019
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-307-9
Price: $35.00

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Pub. Date: April 2019
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-309-3

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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.


Through interviews with parents and school personnel, Debs grapples with both the promise and the challenges of implementing a more psychologically optimal form of education. Debs’s book is a tour de force that will assist and inspire everyone who sees education as a means to bring us closer to a truly integrated society. — Angeline Lillard, professor of psychology, University of Virginia

Mira Debs provides a fascinating and unprecedented window into the development and expansion of Montessori education in the United States. She complicates the stereotype of Montessori as an elite and exclusive movement, making this book a must-read for anyone concerned about bringing alternative pedagogies to a more diverse group of students. — Dana Goldstein, bestselling author of The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession

In this fascinating book, Mira Debs shatters the stereotype that white families want open-ended creative learning while black families want ‘No Excuses’ schools that emphasize structure and discipline. In fact, as her brilliant analysis of Montessori schools shows, families of all backgrounds are coming together in diverse-by-design schools, where their children can become empowered thinkers rather than obedient rule-followers. — Richard D. Kahlenberg, senior fellow, The Century Foundation

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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.

Table of Contents


Blog Post: "Global Adaptation: Montessori in India"

E-book available through online booksellers

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