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, APRIL 4, 2005
FEDERAL COURT TO TRY RELIGION ISSUE FIRST IN PUBLIC WALDORF CHALLENGE
At a hearing on motions in limine held in Sacramento on April 1, 2005, Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. announced that the trial of the PLANS lawsuit against two school districts will be divided into two parts. The issue of whether Anthroposophy, the world-view behind Waldorf education, is a religion or not will be tried first, starting on September 12, 2005. Should that allegation be confirmed, the trial will proceed immediately to the question of whether the publicly-funded Waldorf charter and magnet schools are impermissibly entangled with that religion.
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 violate the Constitution by being entangled with religion.
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 contends that public Waldorf schools are intrinsically and inseparably based upon Anthroposophy, an occultist religious sect. 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.
In May, 2001, Judge Damrell dismissed the 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 and reinstated the case.
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' mission is to provide parents, teachers, and school boards with views of Waldorf education from outside the cult of Rudolf Steiner, to expose the illegality of public funding for Waldorf school programs in the US, and to litigate against schools violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The 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. 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.