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Will Jeff Bezos’ Billions for Montessori-Inspired Schools Help Early Childhood Education?

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Children develop their problem solving skills by playing games that are both educational and fun, at a Montessori school.

(Photo: Davies/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Last September, in a surprise announcement on Twitter, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos declared that he would give away $2 billion to support struggling families and develop a preschool network. The news sent a lightning bolt through the world of early childhood, which is much more familiar with scarcity and budget cuts than it is with billion-dollar investments.

His Twitter message said that he would “launch and operate a network of high-quality, full scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities,” and Montessori experts in particular were celebrating. If designed well, such a preschool network could help thousands of children, plus lead to positive ripple effects for existing programs. Education leaders, including the Montessori Leaders Collaborative, sent Bezos letters and packets of information to help him formulate his ideas. “It is very exciting for Montessori to get this spotlight, and it is ready to shine,” Elizabeth Bruno, president of the Brady Education Foundation, which funds research on public Montessori programs, told me a few weeks after the announcement.

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