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 2/19/01
SCHOOL BOARD FINDS WALDORF PROGRAM SECTARIAN
The Chico Unified School District Board of Education (Butte County, Northern California) voted February 7 to adopt a finding that Waldorf education programs are based upon a sectarian religion. This finding was made in support of the board's January 17 decision to reject an application for a "Waldorf-inspired" charter school.
The board found: "Based upon certain of the materials presented to the Board, it appears that Anthroposophy is a religion as commonly apprehended; at the very least, it appears that there is a significant question as to whether Anthroposophy is a religion. Steiner has described Anthroposophy as a science of the spirit, and a path of knowledge that can lead the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe. Fundamental to all of his work is the view that the human being is composed of body, soul and spirit, and that the Christ event is key to the unfolding of human history and the achievement of human freedom."
In addition, the board found: "The Waldorf method of education cannot be made secular because it is either based upon or inextricably interconnected and linked with Anthroposophy. More specifically, Waldorf education depends on a pedagogy based upon Steiner's Anthroposophical-based understanding of a child's development."
Waldorf teacher training was also a problem: "The application also states that teacher hiring '[p]reference will be given to those who hold a teaching certificate from a recognized Waldorf Teacher Training College...' (Charter Application, p. 13.) Such colleges, as understood by the Board, are firmly grounded in the work of Steiner."
The full text of the finding is posted on the web at:
PLANS was organized in late 1995 by former Waldorf parents and teachers concerned about both private and public Waldorf schools. It 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. Curriculum decisions and teacher training in public Waldorf schools 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 first phase of the trial, to determine whether Anthroposophy is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes, will begin March 19, 2001.