http://www.waldorfcritics.orgDebra Snell, President 12562 Rough and Ready Highway Grass Valley, CA 95945 (530) 273-1005 snell gv.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, OCTOBER 27, 2003
TRIAL SCHEDULED FOR CHALLENGE TO RELIGION IN PUBLIC WALDORF SCHOOLS
Frank C. Damrell, Jr., United States District Judge, Eastern District of California, has set the date of September 27, 2004, for the trial of PLANS, Inc. v. Sacramento City Unified School District and Twin Ridges Elementary School District. Judge Damrell re-scheduled the trial after PLANS won approval of their right to sue from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Because of the long time involved (the lawsuit is now five years old), Judge Damrell reopened discovery so that both sides can submit new evidence.
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 six "Waldorf-inspired" charter schools.
During the original discovery phase of the litigation, PLANS revealed internal documents that described, in the words of the Anthroposophists themselves, the true nature of Waldorf education. For example, the Sacramento City Unified School District identified a book "Lighting Fires: Deepening Education Through Meditation" (by Jorgen Smit, Hawthorn Press 1992) as one of its resource materials for "training or instruction in Waldorf teaching methods or Waldorf curriculum." Smit wrote:
"[O]ne can only make the transition from the spiritual realm of being to the physical realm of matter through the realm of the etheric...Hence the special significance of the awakening of consciousness in the etheric!" (pp. 22-23)
"Christ is found within, in each human individual, but at the same time as the cosmic Christ on a wider scale, in the other person and the whole of humanity. He cannot be found only in one place. He works in from out of the periphery and at the same time in the depths of the heart." (p. 40)
In May, 2001, Judge Damrell dismissed PLANS' lawsuit against two school districts based on lack of standing. PLANS appealed the decision, and in February, 2003, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed PLANS' right to sue the school districts as taxpayers.
Debra Snell, president of PLANS, said: "Religious Waldorf programs claim the right to be independent from the public school system, while operating on public funds. They've managed to get away with it by simply denying the transparently obvious. When sponsoring school boards refuse to act responsibly, the next step is a lawsuit. Charter laws should be amended so that sponsoring school boards have the same oversight over charters as they have over regular public schools."
Dan Dugan, Secretary of PLANS, said: "I'm delighted that we've finally finished with the technicalities. Now we can focus on presenting the religious nature of Waldorf education before a judge."
WHAT IS PLANS?
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 former 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.