http://www.waldorfcritics.orgDebra Snell, President 12562 Rough and Ready Highway Grass Valley, CA 95945 (530) 273-1005 snell netshel.net Lisa Ercolano, Vice President 220 Gaywood Road Baltimore, MD 21212-1709 (410) 377-4204 momof2gals mindspring.com Dan Dugan, Secretary 290 Napoleon St. Studio E San Francisco, CA 94124 (415) 821-9776 dan dandugan.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1/30/01
FEDERAL COURT TO TRY RELIGION ISSUE FIRST IN PUBLIC WALDORF CHALLENGE
Federal Magistrate Judge Peter A. Nowinski met with lawyers for plaintiff PLANS and defendants Twin Ridges Unified School District and Sacramento Unified School District on January 29, 2001, for a mandatory settlement conference. All parties agreed that the trial will be split into two phases, and the issue of whether Anthroposophy is a religion or not will be tried first, starting on March 19, 2001.
Anthroposophy is the spiritual movement behind the world-wide network of Waldorf schools. PLANS alleges that for Establishment Clause purposes, Anthroposophy is a religious sect. The defendants claim that it is a philosophy. This is a crucial issue in the case. If Anthroposophy isn't a religious activity, then PLANS can't allege that taxpayer-funded Waldorf schools are entangled with religion, in violation of the Constitution.
Debra Snell, President of PLANS, commented "Anthroposophy is considered a religion by scholars of comparative religion, and reference books classify it as a religion."
PLANS was organized in late 1995 by former Waldorf parents and teachers concerned about both private and public Waldorf schools. It is an unlikely coalition, uniting liberals and evangelical Christians. PLANS became a California non-profit corporation in 1997. PLANS' volunteer board includes two public school teachers, one of whom has received Waldorf teacher training; the president of a skeptical society; the associate director of a Christian anti-cult ministry; and two former Waldorf parents. PLANS' President, Debra Snell, was a director of a private Waldorf school and helped found a Waldorf charter school. For more information, please see the PLANS web site, http://www.waldorfcritics.org.
PLANS contends that public Waldorf schools are intrinsically and inseparably based upon Anthroposophy, a New Age occultic religion. Public Waldorf school curriculum decisions and teacher training are based on 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.
PLANS filed its federal lawsuit in Sacramento on February 11, 1998, naming as defendants the Sacramento Unified School District, which operates a "Waldorf Method" magnet school, and the Twin Ridges Elementary School District, which has established several "Waldorf-inspired" charter schools. The trial is set for March 19, 2001.