Monday, August 02, 2010

Trial Set To Start In Long-Pending Establishment Clause Challenge To "Waldorf" Schools

Today's Sacramento Bee reports that a federal court trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 31 in a challenge to two Northern California school districts that have created "Waldorf" schools. The lawsuit, originally filed in 1998 has gone through a number of appeals. It alleges that "Waldorf "schools violate the Establishment Clause as well as church-state separation provisions of the California Constitution. Twin Ridges School District opened a Waldorf-inspired charter school in 1995; a Sacramento elementary school was converted to Waldorf Methods in 1996. According to a 1998 press release from People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS), the group which filed the lawsuit:
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.
Parental interest in Waldorf schools is growing, and Sacramento opened a small public high school based on the system three years ago. Proponents say Waldorf is a holistic approach to education that has art infused into the curriculum.