Are Montessori Schools Public (Montessori vs Public)

Receive weekly Activity, plans, and resources tailored to boost your child’s fine motor skills, sensory exploration, and cognitive abilities. Join our collaborative community of 20k+ parents & educators.

In a perfect world, everyone will have access to high-quality, unbiased education. It seems that we are far from that. Good education usually comes with a heavy price tag. Low-income families are limited to sending their kids to public school.

Are Montessori Schools Public

Are Montessori schools public? Only about 10% out of the total number of Montessori schools in the country is public. There are over 5,000 Montessori schools today, only 500 of which are publicly funded. This includes district, magnet, and charter programs. Public Montessori serves an estimated 125,000 children from ages 3 to 18 years old. The rest of the numbers are privately-funded and operate for a tuition fee.

Public Montessori Programs

Public Montessori programs are implemented in two ways. In a school-wide effort or only in selected classes. The latter is more rampant because most public schools cannot afford a school-wide implementation.

Public Montessori programs provide access and equity to children and families who could otherwise not afford it. It gives the opportunities and benefits offered by Montessori to children from poverty, difficult situations, and traumatic environments who need Montessori support the most.

Unfortunately, public Montessori schools have not been growing in numbers fast enough.

Challenges of Public Montessori Programs

Implementing Montessori programs in public schools is proving to be difficult and full of challenges. Several factors affect the implementation and growth of the number of public Montessori programs.

Want 20 Easy & Fun Montessori Activity for Your Child?

Grab your FREE printable activity guide now!

    No spam, promise.

    Commitment and Fidelity

    Montessori does not use the conventional model of education followed by the public sector. It is child-centered and focuses on independent student exploration and discovery.

    It emphasizes holistic, high-fidelity implementation which requires total commitment and investment from teachers, school leaders, and the community.

    Everyone needs to buy in on the process.

    Highly-Trained Montessori Teachers

    There is a shortage of supply of highly-trained Montessori teachers today. Public school teachers cannot teach Montessori unless they go through additional training which usually takes 1 to 2 years before they can get certified. Getting a Montessori teaching license is very expensive.

    Regular training is also required to keep Montessori teachers updated on current practices and techniques. Montessori teachers need to constantly update their knowledge and skills.

    This can be a problem because additional training is an expense. Public schools have limited budgets. Most schools do not have enough budget for supplies and materials, how much more for teacher training?

    Additional Facilities and Learning Materials

    Ready to make a lasting impact on your child’s future? Download our FREE 20 Fun & Easy Montessori Activities Ideas you can use today to supercharge your child’s development. Click here to get your free printable activity guide.

    Another big challenge for implementing Montessori programs is the additional facilities required for Montessori and learning materials.

    Public schools already have existing facilities and making room for Montessori is a problem. Public schools do not have enough acreage like private schools do.

    Montessori spaces and learning materials need ample space that most public schools do not have.


    The biggest hurdle in the implementation of Montessori programs in public schools is funding. Additional facilities, Montessori materials, outdoor learning areas, hiring additional teachers and teacher training, utilities, and many other factors require money that most public schools don’t have.

    Montessori is expensive. Getting funding for it takes time and usually, public schools are given yearly budgets that are less than what they need.

    National and State Education Standards and Policies

    All public schools, Montessori or not, are required to abide by different National and state standards and policies for education. Often, these standards and policies compete and contrast with Montessori policies like giving standardized tests and grades, and a predetermined curriculum set for all students.

    This ultimately affects the implementation of Montessori programs in public schools. Some of these policies are:

    • The Every Student Success Act (ESSA)
    • The Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)
    • The Universal Preschool
    • And other national and state policies that set a yearly schedule for learning and assessment requirements that usually involves standardized testing and grading systems.

    Public Montessori must abide by the rules followed by all public schools. This sets a big hurdle in implementing the Montessori method in its totality.

    Public vs. Montessori Schools

    Public schools and Montessori schools offer distinct educational approaches, each with its own strengths and considerations. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between public and Montessori schools:

    Public Schools:

    • Public schools are funded and regulated by the government, providing education to a broad range of students from diverse backgrounds.
    • Public schools often follow a structured curriculum based on national or state standards.
    • Classrooms in public schools typically have larger student-to-teacher ratios, making individualized attention challenging.
    • Standardized testing is common in public schools, with a focus on meeting academic benchmarks.
    • Public schools offer a wide variety of extracurricular activities and resources due to their larger size and funding.

    Montessori Schools:

    • Montessori schools follow the educational philosophy developed by Maria Montessori, emphasizing child-centered learning and individualized instruction.
    • Montessori classrooms are designed to foster independence, hands-on learning, and a mixed-age environment.
    • Montessori schools often have smaller class sizes, allowing for more personalized attention and tailored instruction.
    • Assessment in Montessori schools focuses on individual progress and mastery of skills, rather than standardized testing.
    • Montessori schools provide a carefully prepared environment with specialized Montessori materials to support holistic development.

    In the public vs. Montessori debate, it is crucial to consider factors such as educational philosophy, teaching approach, and the specific needs of your child. Both types of schools offer unique opportunities for learning and growth, and choosing the right fit depends on your child’s individual learning style and preferences.


    Only about 10% out of the total number of Montessori schools in the country is public. There are over 5,000 Montessori schools today, only 500 of which are publicly funded. This includes district, magnet, and charter programs. Public Montessori serves an estimated 125,000 children from ages 3 to 18 years old. The rest of the numbers are privately-funded and operate for a tuition fee.

    There is still a lot of work to do in improving public Montessori programs. With only 500 public Montessori, availability and accessibility are very low. Fortunately, both the private and public sectors are working together to find ways to make Montessori available to all children that need it.


    Is any student allowed to participate in public Montessori programs? There are not enough public Montessori programs in the country. As we have mentioned above, there are a little over 500 public Montessori out of over 5,000 Montessori schools in the US. This means the slots are limited. The state, district, and school set qualifications to determine which students can participate in the program. Consult your local education department or the school for more information.

    Do public Montessori students take standardized tests and get grades?

    Because public Montessori is under national, state, and district school regulations, public Montessori students still take the same standardized tests and receive grades as their counterparts in public school. This means public Montessori is sort of a hybrid of traditional and Montessori methods. No student is exempt from national and state standards.

    Is public Montessori free?

    Like all publicly-funded schools, public Montessori is free. It gives low-income families access to Montessori.

    Does public Montessori hold the same standard of education as private Montessori?

    Yes. Aside from the issue of standardized tests and grading systems, all Montessori schools strictly follow the Montessori method. It is the same for all schools across the nation, even the world.

    Are Montessori schools public or private?

    Montessori schools can be both public and private. While private Montessori schools are more common, there are also public Montessori schools available. Private Montessori schools are independently operated and funded by tuition fees.

    They have the freedom to adhere closely to the Montessori philosophy and implement the curriculum accordingly. Public Montessori schools, on the other hand, are part of the public school system and receive government funding.

    These schools blend the Montessori approach with the requirements of public education, often incorporating Montessori principles within the framework of state or national standards.

    Are Montessori schools free?

    The availability of free Montessori schools varies depending on the region and the type of Montessori school. Public Montessori schools, similar to other public schools, are funded by the government and are generally free to attend.

    However, private Montessori schools typically require tuition fees to cover operational costs and provide specialized Montessori materials and training for teachers.

    It is important to research and inquire about specific Montessori schools in your area to determine their tuition policies. Scholarships or financial aid may be available in some cases to make Montessori education more accessible to a wider range of families.