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Old 02-09-2011, 08:34 PM
 
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Hi all,

I'm looking for a NJ suburb (close to NYC) whose public schools are on the "progressive" side of the education spectrum.

By progressive, I mean a focus on the whole child, on project-based learning and authentic experiences and assignments rather than worksheets, on writing and art and "portfolio" assessments rather than tests. A place that does not emphasize tests and grades and gives only a developmentally appropriate level of homework. A nurturing community that helps each kid develop at their own pace.

I have found private schools like this (there's one in Hoboken, where I live now) but we can't afford private school for two kids. I know there are also some public ones in NYC (I used to teach at one) but have not found anything similar in NJ. We would move for the school system.

Thank you!!

Mom of a soon-to-be kindergartener
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Old 02-10-2011, 05:54 AM
 
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Well, every public school in NJ offers a progressive education, as opposed to a traditional classical education.

Everyday Math, inventive spelling, sight word reading, multiculturalism, environmentalism, it's all there.

Last edited by Ann77; 02-10-2011 at 06:20 AM..
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Old 02-10-2011, 06:25 AM
 
Location: Vermont
4,759 posts, read 9,267,640 times
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how is it that NJ public schools offer a progressive education? have things changed so much in the years since i went?

i loathed school and so i am keeping my ears and eyes open about what to do with our child. i have a few years but it is something i take very seriously.

are you talking about like waldorf and/or montessori (which I think only go to pre-school ?) schools?
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Old 02-10-2011, 06:42 AM
 
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Ann77, the practices you mention have very little to do with progressive education. I That's not what I'm talking about. I was very clear what I'm looking for.

Joe, you're on the right track -- Waldorf and Montessori are similar approaches (and do go up through elementary school) but I believe are only implemented in private school settings.

Anyone else?
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Old 02-10-2011, 06:56 AM
 
Location: GA
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I believe that Montclair offers more progressive schools. There is only one public Montessori in NJ:

Montclair Public Schools
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Old 02-10-2011, 07:01 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annsouth View Post
Ann77, the practices you mention have very little to do with progressive education. I That's not what I'm talking about. I was very clear what I'm looking for.

Joe, you're on the right track -- Waldorf and Montessori are similar approaches (and do go up through elementary school) but I believe are only implemented in private school settings.

Anyone else?
Those things I mentioned came directly out of the progressive education movement in reaction to classical education.

Waldorf and Montessori have completely different histories and approaches in their true forms versus the progressive education movement. Waldorf is in its own category (there is a Waldorf school in Chestnut Ridge NY that goes up to HS if you're interested in that, but that's private). Montessori's work really wasn't laid out much past the early childhood years, and I would say there is wide variation now, although I can see some overlaps between what you want and the Montessori elementary schools I have visited.

If you want something like Montessori, it will be hard to impossible to find that in a public school in NJ. Take a look at the charter schools in NJ, there might be a few Montessoris on there, not sure. But remember, even if you find a charter school that looks good to you, and if you move there, you are not guaranteed a spot and will have to go through a lottery. School choice is very limited in NJ.

From what you wrote in your description, I'll be honest, you're not going to find exactly that in any public school in NJ. There are private schools that might fit your description. Maybe they would be cheaper than what you are looking at in NYC and would be worth the move anyway.

However, I do think that you might find the public schools in NJ to be a good fit anyway. But you're not going to get away from the focus on standardized testing, even in a charter school.

Hope this helps..
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Old 02-10-2011, 07:08 AM
 
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Hi Ann77,

Thanks for your clarification. I will also further clarify. I personally think that "environmentalism, multiculturalism" are good things. Sight word reading and inventive spelling (or the "whole language" approach) are now understood to be appropriate parts of a "balanced literacy" curriculum -- which includes phonics. Most school districts now use some kind of balanced literacy program combining the two sides, which are complementary rather than opposed. (I don't know as much about the math curriculum -- will go do some more research there!)

I am well aware of the lottery situation -- there actually is a public charter school in Hoboken that fits my description, but my child is way down on the waiting list.

And yes, Montessori and Waldorf and progressive education have differences, but I think their commonalities are more important -- the focus on self-motivated learners and the whole child, for example.

I was kind of hoping to hear about "regular", non-lottery public schools that tend more towards this approach -- maybe some that use responsive classroom techniques, or have a focus on project based learning?
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Old 02-10-2011, 08:24 AM
 
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If you think teaching multiculturalism and environmentalism are good things, you will get that in most NJ public schools. Those are just examples about how you'll probably find the general culture to be agreeable.

Balanced literacy can go either way. In my experience, it is really still more sight-word based in practice. They have had to swing back a bit to phonics, but it is still not real phonics in my opinion, sort of a mish-mash approach. But again, different strokes for different folks.

I think that the Everyday Math stuff (and other similar math programs) is horrible, but that's just my opinion. Other people may feel differently towards it. Everyone has different things that they think are important or good.

I understand what you're looking for, and I'm not sure you will get exactly that in any regular NJ public school. There really aren't big differences across districts in that way. All adhere to the NJ Core Curriculum Standards and use similar programs accordingly. It's worth looking at the Core Curriculum Standards and seeing what you think of them. You might be pleasantly surprised.

You'll find projects, writing programs can vary. I have to say I like the approach to writing and that might be one thing the public schools are getting right now.

I still think you might find that NJ public schools are a good fit based on your ideal school above. I wouldn't rule them out. If you came on here asking for a conservative, traditional classical approach to education, I would say that you would more out of luck versus what you are looking for.

Unfortunately, as you know, there is a major focus on standardized testing in all states now. So yes, no matter what, there will be a focus on that at the expense of other areas now (art, music, etc). If you're looking to get away from worksheets or testing, that's not going to happen in a public school in NJ. People who want that often go private.

Other people will supplement areas that they find are lacking, either at home, through activities or even camps in the summer.
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Old 02-10-2011, 08:32 AM
 
1,528 posts, read 2,155,760 times
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One more thing I wanted to add....

I've known a few families who used Montessori schools for early childhood/preschool and then switched to public school in 1st grade.

That was a very hard adjustment for the kids I knew. They were used to being able to work on their own projects, walk about the room, you know what I mean with the whole Montessori idea.

These kids had a very hard time changing to a lot of seat work, less individualized programs, more worksheets, higher student to teacher ratios, that kind of thing.

If you really feel passionate about what you wrote, then you should look at private schools too. Hey, I don't know your budget, but you might find you can economize on your home purchase and use that money for private school.
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Old 02-10-2011, 08:37 AM
 
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Sounds like you should be looking at a charter school. Does something like this appeal to you? Home
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