There will be no first grade at the Montessori school on Giudecca – just the latest case of classrooms at risk in Venice
By Eugenio Pendolini
25 June 2022
VENEZIA. Public schools are in retreat in Venice, yet another symptom of a city that is losing its population and where fewer and fewer children are born. The most recent case, in chronological order, concerns the first grade at the Montessori school on Giudecca. There are sixteen possible enrollments, so it’s a shame that the forms arrived after the deadline set by the school. So, barring any last minute reconsideration or extension, the first grade will not be formed for the coming school year. It would be the second year in a row.
And so, at the Duca d’Aosta – ex Palladio now only three classes will remain (third, fourth and fifth) being taught with the Montessori method, which is offered as a public service in Venice, the only place in Veneto. But with this kind of trend it is destined to disappear.
“There seems to be a specific desire to not start a Montessori first grade” attacks the Venice Montessori Parents’ Committee, according to whom little or nothing has been done by the institution in recent months to make the situation known to parents.
“We can clearly understand”, they add, “how the denial of this possibility translates into a serious threat to the continuation of the entire project of offering Montessori instruction in public school in Venice”. It’s an insult added to injury, considering that the Montessori section was moved to the Duca d’Aosta – ex Palladio complex just a year ago, after a reorganization carried out by the City.
CASES IN THE HISTORIC CITY
However, as mentioned, the case of the Montessori school is only the most recent. The situation was reported during the last school year by councilor Giovanni Andrea Martini (Tutta la Città Insieme): closures of complexes and classes with insufficient numbers have been registered in every sestiere, to the detriment of the area and the social fabric. One example of many is the Calvi school at Castello.
The situation is this: the Dante Alighieri school has over 30 enrollments this year and thus could form two first grades. Thus there was a choice of opening one at Calvi and one at Dante or both at Dante. In both cases, however, it is possible that this would lead families to transfer their children to other schools that were closer, rather than having to take them from via Garibaldi to Santo Stefano and viceversa. This created the possibility that the school could end up with fewer students and end up only opening one first grade. Therefore the problem is in the possibility of opening only two rather than three classes. Not to mention not only the importance of a safe place like school in Venice, but also its specificity and the difficulties in movement.
The request from parents to all the institutions is therefore that the schools in Castello not be abandoned. That request is the same of parents from the Montessori section, to which however the school management for now has not given a response. “Here it is not just a question of classes”, adds Martini, “entire complexes organized by the Municipality, which represent cornerstones for the city and the islands are at risk of closure”. Another recent case, in Murano and Burano, instead involved the Ugo Foscolo school. The three first grades were saved in extremis by the regional school office after the institute’s decision, criticized by the parents, to reduce them from three to two due to lack of enrollment. Parents are also worried on the island of Pellestrina, where there are an elementary and a middle school.
“SPECIFICITY IS REQUIRED”
For Councilor of Education Policy Laura Besio, there are two factors which make the Venice school system complicated. “On one hand”, she explains, “the clear decline in births that is affecting all of Italy, but which in Venice one feels more than ever due to the difficult context. This is why a recognition of a specificity would be needed that guarantees a margin for maneuvering that acknowledges particular situations. There is then the subject of the islands, which get exemptions, but there are no benefits given for teaching and administrative staff: it is difficult to recruit teachers and directors”.
Source: La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre