Scott M. Kendall, PLANS' Attorney
8788 Elk Grove Blvd. Bldg. 1 Suite I
Elk Grove, CA 95624
(916) 685-7700 scottkendall worldnet.att.net
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, September 27, 1999
FEDERAL COURT FINDS SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE THAT PUBLIC FUNDING OF WALDORF SCHOOLS MAY VIOLATE CONSTITUTION
The Honorable Frank C. Damrell, Jr., United States District Judge, rebuffed the efforts of defendants Sacramento Unified School District and Twin Ridges Elementary School District to short circuit the lawsuit, filed by People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS). The PLANS lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of publicly funded Waldorf schools. In a twenty-five page "Memorandum and Order," Judge Damrell denied defendants' motion for summary judgment, concluding that there were triable issues of material fact on the issue of whether such schools violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. In addition, he concluded that there were similar issues of fact regarding the California State Constitution.
PLANS contends that public Waldorf schools are intrinsically and inseparably based upon a New Age occultic religion called Anthroposophy. Public Waldorf school curriculum decisions and teacher training are grounded in Anthroposophy's spiritually based child development model. Publicly funded use and reliance upon the doctrines of Anthroposophy impermissibly endorses that religion in violation of the United States and California constitutions.
During the discovery phase of the litigation, PLANS discovered internal documents that described, in the words of the Anthroposophists themselves, the true nature and purpose of Waldorf education. The Sacramento City Unified School District identified "The Waldorf Teacher's Survival Guide" as one of its resource materials for "training or instruction in Waldorf teaching methods or Waldorf curriculum." This book, which is published by Rudolf Steiner College Press-the same Anthroposophical institution that trained Sacramento's public Waldorf teachers-describes the agenda and methods of Waldorf education. The Anthroposophical author, in a candid moment, describes the relationship between Waldorf education and Lucifer:
"Most of that which contributes to our work as teachers, preparation work, artistic work, even meditative work, is under the guardianship of Lucifer. We can become great teachers under his supervision, for he is responsible for much that has blossomed in the unfolding of civilization and culture in the past."
PLANS also learned that public school teachers were taught by the Anthroposophists at Rudolf Steiner College to categorize school children by their Zodiac signs. Lecture notes obtained from a Sacramento City Unified School District teacher who was undergoing public Waldorf training reveal that these teachers were taught to divide children and make decisions about them according to what they call the "Four Temperaments." The child's zodiac sign revealed the child's temperament.
In the Twin Ridges Elementary School District, PLANS identified the continuing presence and role of Anthroposophy in the district's current formal curriculum document. For example, the Sixth grade science curriculum states:
"The child now stands at the threshold of puberty and begins to grow into and connect more deeply with the bony system; all that depends on mechanical laws can be now given without fear of harm."
The meaning of this unusual statement is found in the Waldorf parenting handbook, which was distributed to parents of public Waldorf school parents by Twin Ridges:
"At puberty, the light forces of consciousness fall into the bony depths of the skeleton. The individual comes to conscious terms with his skeleton: it becomes the direct instrument of the individual "I." Its movements are directed consciously from within."
In denying the school districts' motions for summary judgment, Judge Damrell found that
"PLANS presents evidence that may establish that Waldorf education methods are more than "consistent with" the principles of Anthroposophy. PLANS presents evidence that the methodology itself is directed by, and grounded in, assumptions about learning and child development that can only be understood with reference to Anthroposophy. PLANS also presents evidence that SCUSD teachers received training in Anthroposophy, and that Twin Ridges sought and employed teachers with Anthroposophical training . . . ."
"In sum, PLANS has raised a disputed issue of material fact concerning the religious underpinnings of Waldorf education and whether public funding of Waldorf education has the unintended consequence of advancing Anthroposophy."
PLANS was formed in late 1995 by former Waldorf parents and teachers concerned about both private and public Waldorf schools. PLANS forms an unlikely coalition around the Waldorf issue, uniting liberals and evangelical Christians, factions that disagree strongly on other topics. It became a California non-profit corporation in July 1997. PLANS' volunteer board includes two public school teachers, one of whom has received Waldorf teacher training, the president of a skeptical society, a Baptist pastor, the director of a Christian anti-cult ministry, and two former Waldorf parents. PLANS' President, Debra Snell, was a board member of a private Waldorf school and helped found a Waldorf charter school. For more information, please see the PLANS web site, http://www.dandugan.com/waldorf.
Scott M. Kendall, PLANS' attorney, maintains a private practice in the Sacramento area of California. He focuses a substantial part of his practice on issues involving religious liberty. This litigation is financially supported by volunteer directors of PLANS, underwriting from the Pacific Justice Institute of Sacramento, CA, and donations from the members of PLANS. Mr. Kendall may be contacted for further information regarding this litigation.