By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 12, 2012 at 8:47 AM

Folks are usually looking for bright spots in our public schools and a late-addition item on the agenda of this Thursday's Committee of Student Achievement and School Innovation meeting is just the kind of good news we love on the last day of school at MPS.

It's no secret that the public Montessori programs in MPS work. Nearly 98 percent of grade 3-8 students in those schools outperform the rest of the district on state tests and more than a third outperform the state averages.

Last June, in its report, "Milwaukee Today: An Occasional Report of the NAACP," the authors wrote, "Prospects for educational achievement are brights for Milwaukee Public Schools students who are enrolled in Montessori schools ... Indeed, these Montessori schools might offer a fertile direction for some other Montessori schools to follow in the future. They certainly appear to offer a more fertile opportunity than voucher school enrollments."

So, news that the Tippecanoe School building on Howard and Whitnall Avenues on the South Side is being proposed as the home to a new primary-age Montessori program, to help alleviate the strain on the Fernwood Montessori waiting list, is exciting.

The program would open in September and would house 120 students, many of whom would otherwise have left the district because there's no room for them at Bay View's Fernwood and other popular Montessoris.

It's another step in an ongoing push to expand the Montessori programs in MPS. In September, MacDowell Montessori will open in its new home at the Juneau campus, where it will expand from K3-8 to K3-12.

School board director Mark Sain is also working hard to bring a Montessori option to his district on the far north and northwest side of the city.

Experiments at integrating non-Montessori kids into a Montessori program are taking place at Lloyd Barbee. And the community at Maryland Avenue Montessori, one of the highest-achieving Montessori programs in the city, is considering ways to accommodate the dozens of kids on its wait list each year while maintaining the integrity of its program.

A big fall Montessori meeting is slated for early October at Juneau, which will feature parent education sessions, a nationally recognized guest speaker and breakout sessions on Montessori training, expansion of the programs in MPS and more. Stay tuned for more on that later.

In the meantime, it seems like a great time to celebrate the success of public Montessoris in MPS.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.