Today People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools, Inc. (PLANS) is filing a suit in U.S. District Court against two Northern California school districts. PLANS alleges that the Twin Ridges Elementary School District of North San Juan, CA, and the Sacramento Unified School District of Sacramento, CA, have violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by establishing “Waldorf” schools. In addition, PLANS contends that these schools also violate the California constitution, which has a stricter standard for separation of church and state.

Waldorf schools were founded in 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany, by Austrian-born New-Age guru Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). After Steiner’s attempt to found a spiritually-oriented political party had failed, he turned to education as a way to carry on his work by preparing souls for reincarnation as the leaders of the next epoch of history. There are now over 500 private Waldorf schools world-wide, including about 150 in the U.S., with philosophical guidance from the international Anthroposophical Society centered in Dornach, Switzerland. In recent years Rudolf Steiner College, a teacher training seminary in Fair Oaks, CA, has led a campaign to establish Waldorf programs in public schools. The charter school movement has accelerated this process. According to Debra Snell, former Waldorf parent and President of PLANS, “They have 78 years of practice misleading private school parents about the spiritual nature of Waldorf, so it’s easy for them to do the same thing in public schools.”

The Twin Ridges school district opened Yuba River School in 1995. It is a “Waldorf-inspired” charter school located in Nevada City, CA. They claim to be non-sectarian while requiring their teachers to be trained by Anthroposophical institutions. Parents who wanted to sell books at a school fair were told that they could only sell books from the Anthroposophic Press catalog. When parents asked for a definition of Anthroposophy, the charter school teachers gave them a handout that said:

“This path consists of a number of exercises and meditations… these exercises aim to enable a person to arrive at an objective understanding of spiritual forces at work in the world…The Waldorf Curriculum and methodology can be viewed as the child of Anthro- posophy…Without Anthroposophy, we would not have Waldorf Education.”[1]

Oak Ridge Elementary School in Sacramento was converted to “Waldorf Methods” in 1996. After parents started picketing, it was divided into a conventional school and a Waldorf school named “Oak Ridge Waldorf Methods Magnet Annex.” The Sacramento school district received a $250,000 U.S. Department of Education grant to fund the Waldorf conversion, of which at least $100,000 has gone to the unaccredited Rudolf Steiner College for teacher training. A handout given to the teachers in training reads:

“The mood of the fairy tale…is truly the means to prepare human souls…for the experience of what can shine into them from higher, supersensible worlds. The simple fairy tale…provides a preparation in human souls for once more accepting the divine, spiritual worlds.”[2]

Parents need to know that the foundations of Waldorf education are permeated with racism. The framework of history taught in Waldorf schools is drawn from Steiner’s teachings about “races” that emigrated from Atlantis. In a book purchased at the bookstore of the San Francisco Waldorf School, Steiner wrote:

“If the blonds and blue-eyed people die out, the human race will become increasingly dense if men do not arrive at a form of intel- ligence that is independent of blondness. Blond hair actually bestows intelligence.”[3]

Waldorf schools admit children of all races and religions, but the teachers are required to study Steiner’s books. Steiner taught that people of different races come from different stages in the evolution of human consciousness.

PLANS was formed in late 1995 by former Waldorf parents and teachers concerned about deception and incompetence in both private and public Waldorf schools. PLANS forms an unlikely coalition around the Waldorf issue, uniting liberals and evangelical Christians who disagree 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, and two former Waldorf parents, one of whom helped found a Waldorf charter school.

PLANS has a World Wide Web site at, and an active Internet e-mail discussion list “waldorf-critics.”

Our litigation is supported financially by the volunteer directors of PLANS, underwriting from the Pacific Justice Institute of Sacramento, CA, and donations from the members of PLANS.


[1] Handout given to Vision Committee parents by faculty of Twin Ridges Alternative Charter School (later renamed Yuba River School) January 13, 1996.

[2] Handwritten handout given to Oak Ridge teachers at Rudolf Steiner College, summer 1996. Credited to Rudolf Steiner, 1911, work unknown.

[3] Steiner, Rudolf. Health and Illness: Volume I: Nine Lectures to the Workmen at the Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland, 1922. Trans. Maria St. Goar. Spring Valley: Anthroposophic Press, 1981, p. 86.