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December 2, 2007

PLANS case lives on, almost 10 years later

Two years ago I wrote about how PLANS had failed in its lawsuit seeking to have the curriculum changed at two California charter schools on the basis that Waldorf pedagogy as it was practiced in these charter schools was inherently religious and therefore contrary to the current case law on the separation of church and state, which prohibits public money from funding religious education. PLANS hopes such a ruling would effectively prevent any public school in the United States from employing Waldorf methods, though in reality the response by the dozen or so Waldorf-inspired charters in five states would probably be that to make a few modifications and continue as before.
The California school districts, as well as almost everyone in the Waldorf movement, disagreed that Waldorf methods are at all religious. The suit was filed in 1998. Given the high stakes involved, the suit moved rapidly through the system (I am being ironic), finally coming to trial in 2005. The actual trial lasted 31 minutes, and the suit was dismissed on its merits. The judge ruled that PLANS had failed to prove any of its contentions. PLANS appealed on a technicality (the only thing you can appeal on), alleging that the exclusion of the testimony of two witness was improper. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals considered the specifics, and decided that the judge had improperly excluded the witness. The case was remanded to the lower court, where more hearings are scheduled for mid-January, 2008. The lawsuit will be re-run, this time with the testimony of the two additional witnesses, sometime in the coming years. Doubtless PLANS hopes the retrial will last longer than 31 minutes. To this end PLANS is also trying to introduce new evidence, since the evidence they had originally presented was ruled inadequate. It is not clear whether the judge will allow this, hence the January hearings. At this point it seems unlikely that the retrial will come to any different of an outcome, but hope springs eternal. At last reckoning the baseless PLANS lawsuit has cost the taxpayers of California $300,000 (the school district’s declared legal costs back in 2005) taking much needed money away from educating children. This amount will escalate as the school districts continue to defend themselves. Meanwhile the Waldorf-methods charter schools named in the original suit have been in operation over ten years, graduating at least two 1st Grades from 8th Grade. The schools are largely successful, and much loved by students and parents alike. PLANS’ quixotic, narrow ideological crusade continues.

Posted by Daniel at December 2, 2007 7:40 PM

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Comments

Hello Debra

or should I say Madame :)

Now lets have a look at the accusations of your media whoring group.
Please save this in your documents, as it should be recorded.

Firstly
I am accused publicly on the Media Whores Waldorf Critics List of being in favour of corporal punishment.

In the letter that was published I simply stated the facts as they happened.
The truth is that I am in favour of meditation.

I am publicly accused by the Media Whores Waldorf Critics group of being likely to stab people in the street.

What is the truth?
I wouldn't even take a knife in self defence.

In service to the Spirit of Truth

Posted by: Karen at February 13, 2009 4:41 AM

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