Sacramento is the epicenter of the debate over whether the Waldorf system — whose educational philosophy goes back 100 years — is appropriate for a public school.
Parent interest in Waldorf schools is exploding, with a wait-listed K-8 school in south Sacramento moving to a larger site this summer.
Sacramento City Unified School District officials say they recognize the growing interest in Waldorf-inspired education, which is primarily offered at private schools.
The district opened a second Waldorf — a small public high school — three years ago.
While enrollment climbs, the district faces a lawsuit this summer from a Northern California group that claims the Waldorf system cannot be separated from founder Rudolf Steiner’s religious philosophy, making public Waldorf schools ineligible to receive taxpayer dollars.
The People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools filed the lawsuit in 1998, and after several appeals, a trial is set for Aug. 31 in Sacramento federal court.
“We are excited to finally make it to court,” said Debra Snell, president of PLANS. “These schools are spreading like wildfire. It’s a nationwide concern.”
Skeptics of Waldorf methods aren’t hard to find. One of the most vocal groups is PLANS, which filed the Sacramento suit. PLANS operates a website that posts comments from former Waldorf parents, teachers and students.
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