A child in a classroom for the youngest students at Hill Country Montessori sets up his workspace. Photo: Jackie Mader/The Hechinger Report AUSTIN, Texas — Mallory Foster was relieved when she, her husband and her stepson’s mother agreed that a local Montessori school would be the right fit for their 4-year-old. They weren’t specifically looking for a Montessori program, but that style of learning appealed to the three parents; it was a sort of added bonus to a school that advertised itself as a “Montessori garden” where kids would spend most of their time outside. Located in a south Austin home, the daycare center boasted more than half an acre of land for children to explore and on which they could grow vegetables in their own gardening plots. Inside, the living room was filled with wooden toys that Foster was told were Montessori supplies. But after only a few months, Foster started to have concerns about the school’s safety and the quality of the education. Long emails from the director, the only adult on site, came during the middle of the day while the children were awake. Foster wondered how the woman could monitor children while writing. And Foster’s stepson didn’t seem ...