Monday, January 12, 2009

Hot topic: Is SFUSD prepared for an influx of kids?

A parent brings up the following topic:

"I know that the district was taken by surprise last year on the number of people that applied and enrolled. They had 200+ more people in kindergarten over the previous year at the start of school (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/08/27/BAHM12IODP.DTL). Does anyone know if they preparing for another year with more applicants/enrollees? I guess that I hope that this year's process isn't like the mess of last year and that perhaps they've learned something.

The preschool hunt was a mess for quite a few friends of mine (several people I know didn't get accepted anywhere and wait lists turned out as a bust) for two years in a row. And in a "probably not for public consumption note," one of the principals I chatted with recently said that they were surprised by the numbers of incoming siblings (more than 60% of the seats available will be gobbled up by sibs). So it seems like there's a quite a baby boom in town."

264 comments:

  1. I am one of those folks caught in the doldrums of last year's over-enrollment. Still waiting to enroll my son in kindergarten and at our coop preschool we have two other families in the same predicament.

    So I have spent more than a few hours mulling over this topic of over enrollment and future strategies to deal with it.

    a) In conversation I have had with both principals,parents and staff at the District, the tours this year were off the hook. The district folks get this misty sad look in their eyes when they talk about the situation next year as I expect that the situation will get worse, not better.

    b) possible solutions include the opening of a Waldorf type school(possible spanish immersion)program. The district is very open to this. It may be a charter or simply incorporated into the district. The District does not have the funds to open up a new school at least on the westside and bungalows are(supposedly) very expensive to obtain and maintain.
    There is an elementary school sitting dormant at Cabrillo and Balboa that was closed recently to respond to the past drop in enrollments but now be reopened or may house this possible Waldorf school. Parents, raise your voices to the Board loud and clear if you are interested since the decision will be be made soon on this.


    c) Another option that is being floated and needs to be seriously considered will be very unpopular with the Teacher's Union. I expect the the Governor is going to throw down with the state teacher's union on this and expand the current class size from 20 to 22 across many grade levels.

    This would pretty much solve the over enrollment issue in SF but at a price. There is a lot of informed debate whether or not smaller sizes in classrooms really impact instruction. I myself voted for 20 in a class and feel like a big hypocrite for backing away from that. (I am a teacher of ESL and my husband is a public school middle and high school teacher so I admit to a certain bias up front.)

    But I would also say this year is an exceptional one in terms of budget constraints and I think everyone including unions need to seriously consider this as being a way to accomodate families who want to be in public schools, avoid some layoff situations and absorb some of the budget cuts in a way that is ulitmately less punishing to teachers and students.
    If we accepted 22 in class, schools would not be forced to cut other programs that support both students and teachers. Those programs are the ones first on chopping block- from libraries, science, PE programs,gardening and interestingly for teachers professional development opportunities and time for prep and peer review.

    Making 20 kids in a class the sacred cow significantly lowers options for addressing the budget cuts ahead.

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  2. The district could consider reopening a closed school without dealing with the needless controversy of making it a Waldorf school. We so don't need MORE controversy and argument in our school district.

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  3. Who, in SFUSD, supports a Waldorf Charter School? I don't think anyone on the Board of Ed does.

    Waldorf is a racist cult, based upon the oddball teachings of Rudolph Steiner. There is no way a Waldorf Charter will be approved by SFUSD.

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  4. Closed-minded, much, 8:54?

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  5. For those wondering why people might object to a Waldorf charter, check out the following, albeit biased, website:

    http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/survivors.html

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  6. Yeah, I'm closed minded about creepy schools that tell African American Children that they will never reach "clairvoyant consciousness" until they DIE and then come back reincarnated as a WHITE PERSON.

    Yeah, I'm closed minded about children of color being told that black and brown are "undesirable colors" and so they do not have black or brown crayons at school and can't color pictures of themselves in their skin color.

    Yeah, I'm closed minded because I don't want my kid to have a teacher who thinks gnomes are real life forms.

    Yeah, I'm closed minded because I don't want my kid to have a teacher who thinks she is a LEMURIAN and a descendant of ATLANTIS.

    call me crazy :)

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  7. Parents should look beyond the groovy wooden toys and knitting, and investigate the heavily religious undertones their children will be exposed to.

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  8. Same could be said for Friends School. And of course the Catholic schools where it on their sleeves.

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  9. "where it" ???

    OH ... you mean WEAR IT

    and yes, they are straightforward about their religion, they are CATHOLIC SCHOOLS

    but you don't see Catholics asking SFUSD to support a CHARTER CATHOLIC SCHOOL

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  10. Which School Board Members would approve of a Steiner school???

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  11. Honestly - I think the hysteria is way over done.

    First of all, I don't know how someone doesn't have a preschool spot. I subscribe to mother's groups and I hear of openings at preschools even now. Some preschools don't have application processes - just waitlists. So you get on the waitlist ahead of time and you get a spot. No big deal.

    With respect to the public school process, it is a legitimate concern that there will be even more interest in the public schools(given this blog, the SF Mag article and especially the economy). On the other hand, there seems to be even more desirable schools this year than last. I think that most people who submit a balanced list of 7 will find a spot.

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  12. (eye roll) I really don't think Waldorf schools are all like this.
    A have a friend who grew up in SF in the 1970's and went thru the Waldorf schools. I can tell you, she is not the least but racist, nor has she heard of Lemurians. lol. She's a thoughtful, creative person with an open heart and mind who says she felt nurtured in this slower-paced environment.

    Although I don't approve of it being a charter school (perhaps private might be a better fit), do you think you might be over-reacting a bit? Some folks actually want an alternative to a cookie cutter education.

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  13. What about a charter Friends school? I wonder if Friends would allow that...

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  14. What is it about the Waldorf model is attractive to the group of parents organizing this effort? If they could tease that out, and separate that from the Waldorf movement as a whole, it might be more palatable. There are a lot of neat things about Waldorf, but you have to look at the whole picture if you're going to call a school a Waldorf school. The racist past and quasi-religious aspects are upsetting to a lot of people, particularly in a publicly funded school. Not to mention the outbreaks of pertussis etc. at Waldorf charter schools when you group large clusters of unvaccinated kids together. Not specifically a Waldorf principle, but attracts many of the same type of parents.

    But it seems like the organizers could build a new model separate from Waldorf that accomplishes their goals. I guess what I'm asking is why does it have to be a Waldorf school?

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  15. It sounds like an Establishment Clause violation to establish a public school, charter or not, affiliated with any religion, including Friends (Quaker) or Waldorf (which I think is theosophist but I can't remember for sure). BTW, unless I am seriously misinformed, the Friends are not a racist cult; in fact they have been dedicated to social justice and peace for centuries.

    That said, it would be great if the District could open another school or two, especially in our area as our schools (except for John Muir) are our ridiculously over-subscribed. Still dreaming of French immersion . . .

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  16. It seems like a good thing to have more families with small children in this city, but this is such a bad time for the district to be experiencing growing pains, in the midst of a budget crisis. It could end up with even more families deciding to leave.

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  17. I think my point about Waldorf schools is borne out by the subsequent discussion. My personal opinion about Waldorf isn't even relevant -- it's just that this is a guaranteed fuse to ignite controversy, like we need MORE turmoil and heated debate in our district.

    If just one person gets up at the mike at a BOE meeting and starts reading choice selections from Rudolf Steiner's writings, the proposal is instantly doomed -- that's my prediction, anyway.

    I know other districts have Waldorf charters and little or no controversy was involved, but San Francisco is simply not that placid a place.

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  18. no need to get up and speak, just send letters to the BOE

    I sent them some samples of Steiner's creepy writings

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  19. The Examiner explored this a bit in a recent article: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/Next_school_lottery_may_be_hectic.html

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  20. For those of you interested in more language programs...i was at the DOE's website last week and noticed a press release stating that they've finally established standards for world languages. I haven't had time to read it through carefully but this would include FLES programs that the District's Multilingual Blue Ribbon Task Force recommended (particularly at the middle school level).

    As far as i know, the District has not yet completed the Multilingual Master Plan (for meeting the BOE's Multilingual Resolution that calls for providing access to a second language for ALL SFUSD students).

    Unfortunately, I don't see how implementing and expanding language programs (with the exception of immersion which i believe is subsidized because they serve ELLs) is even possible given the State's funding crises.

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  21. 12:30--why do you care so much? No one's forcing you to send your child to a Waldorf Charter school. BTW, I think the original poster said "Waldorf-type" school. You need to lighten up.

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  22. 1:57, I'm not 12:30 but I happen to agree that Waldorf has some very creepy elements that we SF/CA citizens should not be funding with our tax dollars nor giving a public stamp of approval. Remember, charters are *public* institutions. I would object as well to a Catholic charter, by the way, just on principle of keeping church out of the public schools....and I say that as a church-goer too....but Waldorf is even a different level than that.

    To be clear, I do not think that all Waldorf families buy into the creepy theories (at all) and I know some very successful, grounded Waldorf grads--although there is an active "I survived Waldorf schooling"-type listserve and website out there too. I think many families are attracted by the wooden toys, the slowed-down vibe, the walks in the woods....I get it, I get the attraction.

    Like the poster above, I would ask how one would separate that stuff from the larger Waldorf theories. Parents don't talk about it, but many Waldorf schools really are run by people (teachers usually, always the head of school) who buy into the pedagogy, which is hard to separate from the crackpot theories. Is there such a thing as Waldorf lite? Wooden toys are great, but is that the definition or extent of it? Vaccinations?--not really allowed to encourage mass non-vaccination in public school, I HOPE. What about not teaching the kids to read until the first teeth come in? This might work great for some particular personalities, particularly those with literate parents--in other words, those kids who will read, eventually--but is this sound & proven educational pedagogy, esp for those whose parents are not literate? Are the gnomes part of it too? Removing certain colors from the crayon box?

    Maybe it is possible to have a Waldorf-type school that is not, you know, Waldorf, but I would want to know exactly what was being transferred over and what was not. I might also ask what the purpose was of such a school, by that point.

    I'm not opposed to starting a new school per se, especially given that there were virtually no spots open, anywhere, at the start of school this year. Maybe a combo of increasing class size to 21 or 22 plus opening a new school would help. Each new child brings with him/her some state funding per the weighted student formula, so presumably that helps.

    It's not easy starting a school or program, though--ask the wonderful PreFUND folks at Daniel Webster. If a new school is needed, it seems sort of arbitrary to start a "Waldorf-type" program, whatever that may be anyway, when there is a private Waldorf already existing in town. I haven't seen the upsurge in demand, as there clearly is for immersion programs that fill up within a year of opening.

    And Caroline is completely right when she points out that it would be needlessly controversial at a time when the BoE is coping with student assignment issues and contraction of state funding. Why go there?

    These are all sound reasons not to "lighten up" about something as important as the design of a possible new public school. It matters how we spend our resources. What we do as a public system matters. I would definitely object to creating a public Waldorf and would be skeptical of a public Waldorf-lite. I say, do what you want with your own money and time--I pretty much do not get into any of this with my Waldorf-parent acquaintances--but prepare for pushback if you propose using public funds and public institutions to create a Waldorf-type school.

    I am definitely not alone in this view, in this town!

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  23. Public school spots in SF are a lot like food access world wide.

    There is plenty of food in the world, it's just not evenly spread around and not everyone has access.

    It isn't that there aren't enough spots - there are. Just that parents demand is higher in some places than in others.

    Happily, just seeing the list in SF Magazine shows that the demand and perceived supply trends are evening out.

    Recently DCYF put out a notice that the baby decline in SF is evening out - a baby boom among white and asians and a leveling off of Latino and African American births. (This may also be happening as housing prices have pushed out the middle/lower class.)

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  24. 12:15 AM said:
    b) possible solutions include the opening of a Waldorf type school(possible spanish immersion)program. The district is very open to this. It may be a charter or simply incorporated into the district. The District does not have the funds to open up a new school at least on the westside and bungalows are(supposedly) very expensive to obtain and maintain.
    There is an elementary school sitting dormant at Cabrillo and Balboa that was closed recently to respond to the past drop in enrollments but now be reopened or may house this possible Waldorf school. Parents, raise your voices to the Board loud and clear if you are interested since the decision will be be made soon on this.


    The school at Cabrillo and 25th (Cabrillo and Balboa don't intersect) is already leased to a private school for kids with mental illness. The district gets income from it.

    And I would be surprised if the board is as kindly disposed to the Waldorf charter as the poster thinks.

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  25. @3:17, in general it's true that "scarcity" in recent years has meant scarcity of desired spots, not that there are no spots. And I share your good cheer that demand is broadening out--a wider set of schools is apparently being considered, per the SF Mag and the lists published here. That's great! I hope more parents will look more widely.

    I do believe, however, that this year was the first in quite a while in which the number of spots was about exactly the number of students. No big openings anywhere. If demand continues to increase as it did last year, for any number of reasons related to a baby boom or the economy or the perception that SF public schools are improving, then there really may be an actual logjam, not just a perceived one. Hence the proposals to increase class size slightly, or to (re-)open schools that were previously closed.

    I hope that the Ad-Hoc Assignment Cmmtte of the BoE is getting good demographic data, somehow. Realizing you can't account for increased % of kids going public, but at least looking at births five years ago, combined with recent trends of public school attendance.

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  26. Well, I was wrong about Waldorf and the Establishment Clause. Apparently a CA public school adopted some Waldorf teaching methods, and a lawsuit to stop it on Establishment Clause grounds failed. This was in Wikipedia's article on Waldorf schools. So it's legally possible.

    I agree entirely that Waldorf is not the way for SFUSD to go at this time. The resources are too limited and the last thing the district needs is a big controversy over a program that would serve only a tiny number of children.

    However, I would not be categorically against a public school adopting SOME aspects of Waldorf's pedagogical methods and saying "These aspects of our program originate in Waldorf educational methods," if there's demand, the substantive curriculum in line (if not pace) with regular SFUSD and state requirements, and it's an alternative school to which no child is assigned without their parents' consent. Rudolph Steiner was undoubtedly a wacko with some nasty ideas, particularly by modern standards, but that does not mean every idea he ever had was a bad one or that people implementing his methods today buy into all of his ideas. Unless their web site is a pack of lies and my admittedly very limited experience with Waldorf students is misleading, the methods can and frequently do develop well-educated,well-rounded critical thinkers, not a bunch of racists looking for fairies under the bushes. But "public Waldorf" should, in my think, be pretty far down the list of priorities for SFUSD.

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  27. When you refer to what you are trying to open as "Steiner-based" , I'd call that great reason for concern.

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  28. wow- my post late night in wee hours really spurred a lot of chat - I am just checking back now.
    Lot of passion and insight on Waldorf. I am actually indifferent on the subject but wanted to put it out therebecuase it came up as an possible future option from my latest chat with my Distrct advisors.

    But any thoughts or knowledge out there about the idea of raising the class size. I can't remember when I heard about this and it may have even been something I came up with myself. I am posing the idea as deeply unsubstantiated but does anyone know anything about this?

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  29. From all my tours, I learned that the max class size in grades K-3 is state-mandated. If that's true, then I don't see how the district could legally increase class sizes in the younger grades.

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  30. There are @ 2 dozen Waldorf based charter schools in California. I am really into Waldorf & don't believe any of the wierd stuff some others have posted! I wear black everyday, vaccinate my kids, and really like that they don't watch TV!

    I would love to have that option for my kids. The private Waldorf school in SF is like $18,000 a year.

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  31. Here's the website about the possible Waldorf-based charter school: http://www.sfcsi.org/.

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  32. I find some of the comments on that website, and remarks made in other forums by proponents of that school, pretty annoying. The portrayals of our public-school kids as mindless drones who "spend massive amounts of time regurgitating information" (from teachers who are "stifled" by regulations) are insulting and arrogant, not to mention inaccurate.

    I predict that this is not going to be pretty.

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  33. caroline, if you continue as you do, it won't.

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  34. Caroline, I find your comments pretty annoying.

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  35. Right now I'm wishing my child would "spend massive amounts of time regurgitating information" and just memorize her multiplication table!

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  36. Marlowe's Mom said...
    "Well, I was wrong about Waldorf and the Establishment Clause. Apparently a CA public school adopted some Waldorf teaching methods, and a lawsuit to stop it on Establishment Clause grounds failed. This was in Wikipedia's article on Waldorf schools. So it's legally possible."

    Waldorf is an activity of Anthroposophy, the Steiner cult. The Wikipedia article is babysat 24/7 by Anthroposophists who keep it bland and uncritical.

    Ten years ago PLANS sued two California school districts in federal court for violating the Establishment Clause by opening public Waldorf schools. Despite what you may have read in Wikipedia, an unreliable source about anything controversial because it can be manipulated, the lawsuit is still in process. We won in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for the third time in December, 2007, and we're waiting for a new Eastern District trial date now.

    -Dan Dugan, Secretary, PLANS, Inc.
    http://www.waldorfcritics.org

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  37. I'm the one who posted the website and I have to say I was pretty taken aback when the email announcing it was forwarded to me. The amount of condescension, especially towards "our Latino neighbors who don't know about this wonderful opportunity," was pretty remarkable. I have no real agenda about Waldorf or charters in general but the folks running this thing do need to think a bit more about the assumptions they're making or lots of people are going to be reactive and, IMHO, justifiably so.

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  38. If you want money from the state of California for class-size reduction, then you must average 20:1 over the year. If you raise limits on your class size, then you don't qualify for CSR cash.

    So any proposal to raise the limit to 22:1 wouldn't fly, even I believe in the case where the limit is 22:1 but the District average is 20:1.

    20:1 is in danger though because it doesn't seem to have much of an effect in some districts - typically districts serving wealthier populations, most of which always had small classes. It has been effective in other districts. And critically, the standards realignment seems to assume 20:1 reduction - I think the standards would be unrealistic in a class of 30 first graders, for instance.

    If SFUSD had a serious overenrollment problem at K, I think the clearest and most cost-effective fix would be an AM/PM K schedule. I don't see that happening any time soon.

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  39. How would the am/pm Kindergarten solution work in 1st grade and beyond?

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  40. Thank you 10:18 for your thoughtful response to my query but what I meant was that I think the Governor may tangle with Teachers' State Union and propose increasing class sizes not just for our SF district which I agree would not make sense given the current policy.

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  41. 11:04:

    It doesn't solve the problem, but it postpones it for a year - just like the Rainy Day fund, the proposed state budgets for education, etc.

    Personally, I think 20:1 is so popular with families and schools and so clearly presents an equity issue that it would be imprudent to attack it. But then, districts (and families) that want it and can afford it could self-fund it, in the way some SFUSD schools do in the upper grades. That exacerbates the equity issue but inequity seems to be less of an issue for many stakeholders.

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  42. Eliminating class size reduction is on the table in most California school districts. Class size will not increase from 20 to 22, but more likely from 20 to 30 or 32. The state class size reduction money does not pay for the full amount of the program, so districts save money by opting out. Plus, the State may decide to stop funding its portion.

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  43. "I am really into Waldorf & don't believe any of the wierd (sic)stuff some others have posted! "

    Have you actually ever read Steiner's works? Have you looked into the religious verses they have the children repeat everyday? So many parents think Waldorf is great but they never actually know what their children are being taught or what they are being exposed to.

    No television? Fine, that could be great.

    Wooden toys? Again, great.

    But look deeper.

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  44. ^ 9:29--Where are you getting your information? I understand the controversy but can't find any of Rudolph Steiner's writings anywhere on the web...

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  45. http://tinyurl.com/3b8unv

    http://tinyurl.com/9yt36o

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  46. 10:02 here again.
    I'm actually looking for quotes from Steiner's writings that are racist in nature or talk about gnomes and Atlantis or not using the color black, etc. So far, I am not finding anything like this...just lots of stuff that's more esoteric in nature...

    Wikipedia makes the Waldorf philosophy seem pretty benign.

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  47. The other tinyurl links to the Waldorfcritics website, which posts a long series of quotes from Steiner.

    And if you Google Waldorf gnomes, Rudolf Steiner Atlantis, or other such combinations you'll find reams of material. Here's a link to Steiner's commentary, "Our Atlantean ancestors."

    http://tinyurl.com/6u33ff

    All that said, I'm perfectly fine if parents want to send their kids to a private school that teaches these ideas, no matter how wack-job I may consider it. I'm opposed to spending public dollars to teach them in a publicly funded school -- but my biggest issue, as noted, is that our district has important issues to deal with and does not need the distraction and controversy that this proposal will create.

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  48. It's correct that the Wikipedia article is somewhat misleading in that it did not get into the 9th Circuit's ruling. However, I checked Findlaw.com, and the most recent 9th Circuit ruling I found was a 2003 opinion that PLANS has standing to sue. That 2003 Ninth Circuit decision sent the case back to the federal District Court to make a factual finding about PLANS' allegation that the "the entire Waldorf approach is inherently religious, and that in using public funds to support it, the school districts are impermissibly establishing religious schools." At the subsequent bench trial (no jury, just a judge), the District Court found that PLANS had not met their burden of proof that the Waldorf curriculum is inherently religious and therefore improper in public schools. PLANS appealed again. On November 21, 2007, the 9th Circuit issued an unpublished memorandum opinion sending the case back for another trial because the trial judge did not allow PLANS to present testimony of three witness. If I read the 9th Circuit memorandum correctly, the same witnesses whose testimony PLANS wanted to present were also designated as potential expert witnesses by the School District. The next question to be decided is whether, with the testimony of the additional witnesses, PLANS will prove that Waldorf curriculum is so inherently religious nature that it's not permissible for public school. I think it's fair to say that PLANS' legal victories have been more technical than substantive so far, but perhaps the additional testimony will tilt the balance in PLANS' favor.

    I'm not intending to defend Waldorf as appropriate for public schools; I just think this is fascinating.

    The PLANS (People for Legal Nonsectarian Schools) website has some interesting information if anybody wants to check it out.

    Meanwhile, is there any more word about how the district will handle more students if they get them?

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  49. Yeah...definitely fascinating!

    http://www.religionnewsblog.com/1213/gnomes-and-critics-at-waldorf-schools

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  50. Wikipedia's entries on Waldorf are babysat and edited by the Anthroposophists to be kept benign. This is the fundamental hitch with the Wikepedia open-source method when it comes to controversial subjects such as this. Keep digging beyond Wikipedia; it's all found pretty easily.

    I also do not have a problem with the Steiner enthusiasts sponsoring a school, as long as it is accredited. They can also charge whatever for it ranging from free to a billion dollars if they like--and if the price tag is an exclusive $18,000/year, then that is their decision.

    The Roman Catholic SF Archdiocese provides schools at a mostly reasonable cost. I am sure they do this partly out of social mission, and partly as a means of reinforcing Roman Catholic principles, values, and community to existing members (i.e., raising children in the faith), and also to reach out to potential new members. In our society with our freedom of religion, I have no problem with this! As long as the schools are accredited, the kids are being served. I know parents who seek out parochial school in part because they want to reinforce their faith with their kids, and others who merely tolerate the faith stuff because the education/cost/access is right, and the religious education not too heavy-handed for them. If it works for them, no problem.

    The biggest (and most creepy) difference between the RC's and the Anthroposophists is that the Steinerites are not transparent about the spiritual cult underlying the Waldorf methods and educational principles. They work very hard to keep that stuff hidden--hence the whitewashed Wiki site and the fiercely fought court fights, where they go after technicalities.

    The Steiner principles on race, spirituality, educational principles, etc. are pretty clearly on the record. If the Waldorf leaders were really interested in repudiating *that* stuff while keeping the wooden toys, no TV, and other more benign aspects, they could do so. They could publicly acknowledge the wack background and set forth contemporary principles for education that are not wack. But they don't. They hide and obfuscate....exactly because the core adherents, who actually run the schools (including many, many of the teachers and some of the parents), actually do believe a version of anthroposophy. This is what makes it cultic--the non-transparency.

    I'm a church-goer and the first say that there are crazy stories and ideas and myths in my faith tradition--but we hold our debates about them, and make our changes, out in the OPEN.

    Another difference is that the RC Archdiocese is not asking for a public charter school to raise kids in the RC tradition! They realize they have to pay for it themselves (okay, the voucher fight is a different matter....). The RC's actually subsidize schools to make them affordable to middle class families (unlike most privates), a smart strategy in terms of member retention and recruitment if you ask me. But then, they are open about who they are and so can attract a wider base of faithful adherents who will willingly help to fund the church's projects and mission, including the schools.

    Waldorf has a right to exist in our free society. I would just say to parents: Do your research, and caveat emptor!

    I guess it's obvious from all this that I would be strongly opposed to public funds being used for a Waldorf School (or any other sectarian project) in San Francisco. I hope the BoE is quick to dismiss any proposal like this so they can focus on the pressing needs on the agenda.

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  51. Lemurians don't blink, that's how ya spot 'em.

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  52. No, the Lemurians were supposed to have disappeared from the Earth with Atlantis, leaving the Aryan root race as the superior and dominant race to lead the world.

    You can't make this stuff up....

    It is not an invocation of Godwin's Law to mention the Aryna race, either; the idea runs through Steiner's writings. He was something of a rival of Hitler's philophical buddies, but they swam in the same pro-pan-German and pro-Aryan waters. Looked to the same mythological traditions and spouted the same eco-fascistic folsky, first wave New Agey-isms too.

    Check out the SF Waldorf web pages. The allegiance to Steiner is put right out there. The teachers get their Waldorf training at the Rudolf Steiner college, even if they are accredited elsewhere.

    They will deny a connection to the racist (and wacko) roots, but I have never seen a serious engagement by Waldorf folks with their shady intellectual ideas of the "past." All religions have issues to be sure, but the serious ones will at some point grapple with their histories and doctrines in an honest and transparent manner, and engage the time and place that they are in.

    I know several families that have sent their kids through Waldorf in SF and elsewhere. These are good and kind people, and it's clear you can make it through the system without becoming part of the cult. Just....I know I wouldn't want my kids being inculcated with any of these ideas. {{shudder}} And it is waaaaay too shady and pseudo-religious and controversial for the public schools to be involved with.

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  53. Steiner taught that if you didn’t make spiritual progression over successive lifetimes, you come back as a gnome...

    I'm in! ...don't want to risk coming back as a potted plant. Seriously though, it doesn't sound much weirder than any other spiritual beliefs, with talking bushes, arks, and whatnot. But I do agree it doesn't belong in a public school.

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  54. "...one of the principals I chatted with recently said that they were surprised by the numbers of incoming siblings... So it seems like there's a quite a baby boom in town."

    This felt really obvious that there had been a baby boom post 9/11 even when we were looking at preschools. Isn't it part of the BOE's job to be aware of population trends and plan for this? I'm little shocked that they were so surprised.

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  55. I'm beginning to think that right hand might know what the left hand is doing. In 2006, there was this article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/05/30/MNG1HJ48O81.DTL indicating a baby boom, but that a large majority of people were planning on hightailing it out of town before the school years. The most recent report from the City on the state of families indicated that the population of families had stabilized. Perhaps the district doesn't expect to lose 1,000 kids per year now.

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  56. Some WAldorf teachers are against left-handedness...

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  57. If you're concerned with such things, check out this eerie scenario: I know a school where the children look very unhappy in their day to day activities. In each kindergarten classroom, the children are doing the same things at the same time like little robots, with no variance. The teachers can frequently be heard yelling at the children in the classrooms and in the hallways, and they sometimes belittle the children. The children are tested often, yet if they don't do well on a test, they are never given an opportunity to study the materials further because the following day their teachers turn to the next page in their script, and begin badgering them to learn the next set of things to be tested on. As a result, many of the students repeatedly suffer from their failures in test taking, and as the months and years pass their grades and self-esteem get lower and lower.... into the crevasse they go. At this school there is no art on the wall because the children don't have any opportunity to do art, or anything else creative for that matter. The walls of the classrooms and hallways are bare until days before the first school tour... my, my, you should see the staff hurrying to put things up so that touring parents will think that their school is a bustling building of learning and fun. This school is part of a vast organization. Are you trying to guess which cult I'm talking about? The answer is right under your nose. I'm talking about one of the up-and-coming schools that so many of you have applied to. And the organization is SFUSD.

    Many of the posters here, especially you, Caroline, should take a step back and realize how ridiculous you sound. You're so afraid of something "other" than your precious, failing school district. You're fine when parents want to get involved in an up-and-coming school, or a PTA, but you snub your noses at this particular charter school plan?

    Look at the website of the organization proposing the charter school: it clearly says Waldorf inspired. There is no reason to cast aspersions based on a guy who lived long ago when there are current, dedicated parents trying to create a new school in town.

    By the way, there are innumerable things about Waldorf education that SFUSD would do well to emulate: respect for the children, kindness, offering age appropriate playfulness rather than sending kindergartners home with meaningless homework, allowing the children to explore the great outdoors, and fostering a love of storytelling as well as listening. I could go on and on. I'm sure that this charter school will take all of the best of the Waldorf culture and weave it together with a Spanish immersion program, giving so many San Francisco families another possibility for a school. Beggars can't be choosers, and we sorely need another school in this town, especially one whose heart is in the right place.

    In terms of your concerns about racism in school organizations, you ought to look at how our city and SFUSD have failed the non-white children of this city. If you dispute that, you obviously are coming from a place of privilege and myopia. Check out the older grades of General Education programs at some of the schools where everyone's clamoring to get into Immersion and you might begin to see the big picture.

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  58. Um, why would we believe a word you say when you won't post the name of this supposed school, even anonymously?

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  59. That's the thing about it: it's not just one school. I've worked in three such schools in SFUSD. I may be anonymous, but I'm also an honest person, and have nothing to gain by giving false information.

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  60. @ 10:09 pm

    I believe the Waldorf charter school committee has dropped its Spanish immersion plans so that they could win approval from Sacramento. So why tout that aspect when it clearly is not going to happen?

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  61. I heard they dropped the Spanish component, too.

    I also heard they were trying to make the program dual immersion and later realized CHarter schools can't have language fluency a factor in admissions.

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  62. "respect for the children, kindness, offering age appropriate playfulness rather than sending kindergartners home with meaningless homework, allowing the children to explore the great outdoors, and fostering a love of storytelling as well as listening"

    Sounds just like my son's PUBLIC school!

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  63. So, the people writing up this proposed charter didn't even know the rules about charters not being able to have language fluency as an admissions before they wrote up their proposal? How ridiculous! The BOE must think they are morons.

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  64. as an admissions requirement, I meant to say :)

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  65. Their website still touts it as being an "immersion" charter school. So it isn't going to be immersion, in the unlikely event that the School Board approves it?

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  66. ^ where does it say that?
    You folks really like to pounce.

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  67. 'You folks really like to pounce.'


    I have to agree. The rigidity and santimoniousness of some voices on this blog are so tiresome sometimes. Yes I'm hoping to get our kid into the neighborhood public school. I went to public school and I feel it would be the best match for our child. But enough already with the rabid dog devotion to the SFUSD and nothing else. Sometimes it seems like people aren't even reading each other's posts fully but yes pouncing on people and then grinding that same axe time and time again. Not everyone wants the same kind of school for their child. The intolerance that weaves itself through these threads with the name calling ("The BOE must think they are morons.") and nastiness is truly a drag.

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  68. Come, you have to admit that it is pretty silly to submit an application for an immersion charter school without even knowing the rules for charter schools, without even being aware that charters are not allowed to have language requirements.

    I don't think bringing up concerns about the strange religious undertones of a proposed charter is unreasonable. If people want to send their kids to a Steiner School, fine, let them, but don't expect State Funding to do so.

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  69. Yes, but you have just made my point. Didn't the original poster say 'Waldorf type school'. How do you know that the plan isn't just to take the best parts of Waldorf teaching methods and leave the rest behind? You don't know that and I don't know that. But yet you counter with, "If people want to send their kids to a Steiner School, fine.."
    My problem is not with the content of this thread but with the fact that there are those who contribute to this blog with a hair-trigger temper and little patience with people who want to talk about something other than public school. Did you read the responses when someone wanted to know more about Catholic schools?

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  70. A few days ago I asked the very question you pose -- what parts of Waldorf curriculum are attractive to this group and how do they intend to implement it? But maybe nobody from the organizing group is monitoring this thread because no one responded.

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  71. Below is an excerpt from what the Waldorf Charter people posted on the sfschools yahoo list ... it does not simply say "Waldford inspired" it says

    " incorporating Rudolf Steiner teachings into public school curriculum"

    So I think there is a reason people should be concerned, I've read a lot of Steiner's lunatic ramblings, have you?



    {Hi all,
    >
    > I am to share information with interested parents interested in a new
    > charter school for the 2009/10 school year. SFCSI (a charter school
    > initiative in San Francisco) will be a school incorporating Rudolf
    > Steiner teachings into public school curriculum as well as Spanish
    > language immersion www.sfcsi.org. I'm excited to say that we are
    > getting ready to submit our charter petition THIS WEEK for the school,
    > which has been named Escuela del Pueblo de San Francisco. If all
    > goes well we would be approved to open a new charter school next
    > school year (2009/10). Hooray for choice in public education!}

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  72. Board of ed member Jill Wynns told me yesterday that reopening a closed school (a regular district school) is indeed on the table.

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  73. One has to wonder whether there would be this much controversy surrounding a proposed charter Montessori school...
    I imagine Caroline would object to it of course.

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  74. If such a school was indeed to take the best (or less creepy) aspects of Waldorf, and not in fact hire teachers who have been indoctrinated in anthroposophy at the Rudolf Steiner teacher college like most public charter Waldorfs, then why call it Waldorf? Why incite controversy that way? Why not start a "Wooden Toys and No TV, We Really Mean It, Charter"?

    From all that I have seen, it would be hard to separate out the Steiner philosophy from the method....with its blindered devotion to wet-on-wet painting, special forms of dancing (eurythmy), cute little gnomes for sale at school functions, etc., all rooted in Steiner's spiritualist and cultic movement.

    The Anthroposophists are engaged in a push to get public Waldorf charter schools in the USA. That is a fact. The numbers are rising. Therefore it is not "pouncing" to raise questions about one that might end up here. It would be incredibly naive to assume that this is simply a group of well-meaning parents who want a slowed-down atmosphere and nice walks in the woods, in the face of a test-driven NCLB that most of us despise. There may be those parents, but it would be irresponsible not to look into the probability that the Rudolf Steiner acolytes are behind it as well.

    I'm not particularly anti-charter but I am concerned about charter abuse, and certainly against the estblishment of publicly funded religious or spiritualist schools, which this would be, however much they try to hide that. In fact, that's what I find most creepy, is that they are not upfront about their spiritualist project, even leaving aside what is (imho of course) a pretty wackadoodle set of beliefs and practices. But I would feel this way about Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Jewish schools too....no need to judge others' (wacko or not) religious beliefs; none of them should be the basis for a public school.

    Not sure why the poster thinks there is no room on this blog to talk about schools other than public, given that there is an active thread on private school apps that was just started this week and has been humming along. I enjoy reading those threads, and ones Kate has posted about Catholic schools--I don't know much, but I've learned a lot. Good on Kate for making room for discussion of all the schools, public, private, parochial.

    *This* thread, however, is specifically how SFUSD can deal with a possible influx of more kids. One person responded by suggesting parents support a new "Waldorf-type" public charter that is being proposed. Many of us think that is a terrible idea, based on non-trivial concerns about public funding for a sectarian project. Maybe that seems "rabid" to some, but I think it is just plain responsible to raise the concerns. I'm sorry if the lack of trust with regard to Waldorf feels hurtful to those parents who genuinely want public educational options that are slower, more creative, less about testing, etc. I think it would be great for such parents to look into starting a truly non-sectarian charter based on those ideas; or work to change NCLB as it comes up for re-authorization this year; or work within your local school to make changes, as many of us have already been doing.

    Or: you can even check out your local neighborhood school to realize that most (in my experience) are not the big bad stereotype painted by the person who posted at 10:09. Most are not perfect, hello, but if you want to raise concerns you would do well not to tar with such a wide brush when so many of us know very well that our children are very much not little "like little robots" who "don't have any opportunity to do art, or anything else creative for that matter." That's just. not. true. I'm the last person to suggest that any school (public or private) is utopia--they ALL have issues and some more than others--but they are not the pit of hell either. We don't need to go back to that old argument about SF public schools being a wasteland. Just doesn't fly anymore--too many of know differently.

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  75. Great post, 11:35.

    I'm sure there wouldn't be anywhere near this much controversy about a Montessori charter school. I do oppose charter schools overall, but I pick my battles too.

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  76. 11:33 who are you posting anonymously and throwing barbs at someone who posts with his/her name?

    I don't get your fascination/obsession with this Caroline person.

    Who cares if she likes Montessori or not.

    And as an disinterested parent, quite frankly, I would have less issues with Montessori than Waldorf.

    By the way, the Cobb school has implemented a Montessori program, so some of the philosophies are getting incorported.

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  77. "I don't get your fascination/obsession with this Caroline person. "

    It's not an obsession nor was it meant to be a dig. Caroline Grannan is a well-known vocal opponent of charter schools who has a very public personae.
    If you have been following this blog since last year, you would know what I'm talking about.

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  78. The Waldorf school was listed as an action item in the agenda for 1/13/09!

    91-13Sp1 - Authorization to Grant or in the Alternative Deny Escuela Del Pueblo de San
    Francisco (EPSF) Charter School Petition f or a New Charter School

    Note that the word "Waldorf" cannot be found in a search of the agenda.

    Anybody know what happened?

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  79. That was a committee meeting (I forget which committee) -- it has to address the proposal before the full board does. The committee passed it on to the full board with no recommendation.

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  80. Many people, actually most, who have been commenting here on the proposed Waldorf charter are not Caroline. In this discussion she has mostly been passing along information like her comment just above, re the BoE subcommittee. That's why it seems obsessive that someone keeps focusing on her.

    Yes, Caroline does oppose charters, and she actually has some serious arguments for doing so. I tend to lean a little further along the spectrum toward support than she does--while also recognizing that there have been cases of charter abuse that have hurt the original intent of the movement.

    Anyway, charters are not at issue here. Commenters on this thread have been voicing concern about Waldorf's religious or quasi-religious or spiritualist roots vis a vis this group's application for public school status. This is not about being for or against charters but concern about public support for a private, religious enterprise--and one that goes to some lengths to deny their sectarian roots. That secretiveness alone really should make us queasy, don't you think?

    If this group is granted a charter, I would lay odds they will advertise for teachers credentialed in the Waldorf method--meaning teachers who have studied anthroposophy at the Rudolf Steiner College and have that stamp of approval. I am very uncomfortable with this. Just as I would be if we chartered a Mormon School whose teachers had to go to BYU and be credentialed at the Mormon Teacher's College in Salt Lake City. I mean, anyone can apply for that job, but we all know what it means.

    If these guys want to start a private school, and raise money for it just like the Catholics and every other religious group does for their schools, then they should go for it. Just not on my dime, and with our public stamp of approval. And not on our school property, which is also what we are talking about here with a public charter.

    I'm sorry the BoE committee passed this onto the full board without recommendation, and I hope the BoE dismisses it out of hand. NOT what they need on their plate right now. Does anyone know when it will come up for vote in the committee as a whole?

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  81. I've posted on this topic a few times. I would object to a Waldorf school whether it was an alternative program in the district or a charter.

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  82. Dan Dugan said:
    >The Waldorf school was listed as an >action item in the agenda for >1/13/09!
    >Anybody know what happened?

    Hi Dan - the reference to Escuela del Pueblo was in the report from the Budget committee, which was delivered by Commissioner Yee. Yee said that the application was held in Committee for another meeting and will presumably be voted on by the budget committee at the next meeting (don't know at the moment when that is). I blogged about that particular budget meeting here.

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  83. Hi Rachel:

    I read your blog about the budget report and (this is off topic), but I'm curious: Why would changing the start times of some of the 8:30 start time schools save money?

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  84. INteresting that the Waldorf charter still has a Spanish-language name even though they abandoned their attempt at dual immersion.

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  85. Hi 8:47:
    The reason (as I understand it) is that we are trying to run each bus on several routes to save money. So the more even distribution we have among start times, the better. Right now we have more buses in service for 8:30 a.m. start times more than any other time, so if we were able to shift one or two schools to an early or a late start time it would allow us to squeeze another run or two in on a particular bus. That saves us money.

    Several of us have said, however, that we regard changing start times as a last resort, since it affects everyone at a school site and not just those who ride the bus.

    Rachel

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  86. Hi Rachel,

    I can see that changing bell times would be disruptive. Of course, so is eliminating bus service for families that rely on it! I can see putting my high schooler on a MUNI bus as an alternative, but I hope the Board doesn't have to eliminate the middle school service. Lots of parents rely on buses from the east side of town to schools like Hoover and Aptos, and wouldn't yet be comfortable with their middle schoolers taking MUNI. And there are fewer middle schools altogether than elementary, making it more difficult to "choose" a neighborhood middle as easily.

    Has the board asked for demographic data on who takes the bus, and how eliminating the routes might discourage some families from sending their kids to places like Hoover or Aptos? I would hate to discourage low-income families from taking advantage of these successful schools. And middle-income families might be willing to pay for school bus services rather than put our kids on MUNI or drive cross town every day.

    I say all this knowing what a huge battle you all have in front of you to balance the budget. I don't envy you!

    Also, thanks for posting here.

    Best wishes--

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  87. Hi 10:17 -
    There is more specific information about the various options proposed here (PDF), but in a nutshell the only two middle school routes proposed for elimination are those to James Lick and Horace Mann. What the Board originally asked was for routes to be prioritized for elimination by 1)number of children affected and 2)age of children. So the models try to limit the effect to the least-traveled routes (the Horace Mann and James Lick routes serve a total of 16 students combined) and those that serve the oldest children.

    Rachel

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  88. Both James Lick and Horace Mann are well-served by MUNI and tons of kids take the bus to those schools.

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  89. My daughter began at a Waldorf inspired preschool at the age of two. I was so impressed! Among myriad delightful things, she learned to bake bread, paint with water colors, put things away calmly, trust herself, and honor all living creatures including all human beings regardless of race, religion, nationality.

    Needless to say, she's eight now and I could never place her in a school that doesn't encourage such a well-rounded and wholesome approach to raising a child (since that is basically another role of the school...our children are in school more than they are with us...the school is also raising them).

    There are too many theories, religious matters, philosophies, and cultural practices in this world. We would be rediculous to get so wrapped up in relying on wikipedia and historical volumes.

    I mean our nation, for example; would you think this to be an appropriate statement "Oh, don't you dare go to America, their early presidents were slave owners and most of their presidents have been corrupt greedy money hungry WEIRDO-cultists!"?

    Or would that just be outright IGNORANT and completely unconcious to speak like that? ESPECIALLY if you hadn't even ever visited America???

    That said, why don't just a few of you assumptive rioters go VISIT a Waldorf Charter school. There's one in Novato, Petaluma, Sebastapol, Monterey Bay...and the list goes on. And when you do go, you don't have to LIKE it. Nobody ever said that...but do see you are terribly misinformed.

    Look at the love and the light in the eyes of those children. Go see one of their plays. Listen to a string ensemble.

    I did a post-grad program at Oxford and there were several students there from all over the world who had graduated from
    Waldorf schools. And they were highly intelligent WONDERFUL people. Not CRAZY.

    My daughter is not white. She is only half American. She Never speaks of ANYTHING religious or cultist in relationship to school. She is vibrant and strong, along with her entire class. Yes they read fairy tales and sing inspirational songs. But they also write and do math and study science etc. Albeit some of the ways they learn these things are non-traditional from a traditional standpoint. But who ever said we can't explore different approaches to raising and educating our youth.

    The thing that strikes me most about my daughter's education, is that it is also her community. When one rises, they all do together. She is never afraid and feels wholly accepted while she discovers her own best potential. Nurturing is the perfect word for it.

    C'mon people, these small minded judgements are the very things that rip nations apart and spark wars. Relax.

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  90. She's drunk the kool-aid, hasn't she?

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  91. Waldorf SCIENCE? Thanks, I laughed hard.

    Islands FLOAT?

    The heart is not a PUMP?

    The Earth does not orbit the sun?

    Thinking does not occur in the brain?

    OY-FRIGGING-VEY

    I'd say that most of us here who are criticizing waldorf so severely have experience with waldorf schools, and that is why we are such vehement critics.

    Waldorf Science ... a few examples:

    "Steiner said that fire-breathing beasts once roamed the Earth [1] and that goblins exist. [2] His evidence? None. He did elaborate a bit on his belief in goblins. He said that goblins (sometimes called gnomes, he said) huddle together deep underground. Concerning the underground itself, he said that it consists of many layers (quite true) some of which are conscious, emotional, and given to crying if stepped upon (not so true). [3] He also taught that islands such as Great Britain are not attached to the Earth. They float. [4]

    Steiner’s medical teachings do indeed include the preposterous idea that the heart is not responsible for circulating blood. Blood circulates of its own accord, he taught. [5] The heart, you see, is a sense organ, not a pump. [6] Likewise, the brain is different from what you may have been taught. Thinking does not occur in the brain [7] — except among materialists, who are incapable of real cognition (aka clairvoyance). [8]

    Other medical truths, according to Steiner: ◊ Cancer can be treated with mistletoe. [9] ◊ People have twelve senses. [10] ◊ People exhibit four “temperaments” (and, therefore, students of differing temperaments should be segregated and taught differently — they can be in the same room, but in separate parts of that room). [11] ◊ Real human beings are equipped with nonphysical bodies [12] (this is not true for “people” who are not really human [13]). ◊ If real people are very very good, they can develop organs of clairvoyance. [14]

    Steiner taught that Atlantis existed. [15] Before Atlantis, he lectured, there was another doomed human habitation: Lemuria. Problem for Anthroposophists: There is no shred of evidence that either such place ever existed. [16] Folklore and fables do not constitute evidence.

    According to Steiner, the Aryan race arose from people who had lived on Atlantis. Problem: The Aryan race does not and never did exist. [17] A belief in Aryanism is only one doctrine in Steiner’s catalogue of racist teachings, many of which are — as you might expect — hateful. Different races and peoples have different mentalities and spiritual abilities, according to Steiner. Some races are moving upward evolutionarily, creating new spiritual realities as they progress; others are, deservedly, nose-diving. [18]

    Steiner interwove his racist and other doctrines with tidbits of astrology. Not to be confused with the science of astronomy, astrology is the baseless, outmoded belief that the position of various heavenly bodies, as seen from the Earth, causes profound effects for everything upon the Earth. This is bunk — or, to be more diplomatic, it is a proposition that has not yet been confirmed by documented substantiation. [19]

    Here are a few more blunders Steiner made concerning heavenly orbs: ◊ He taught that the Sun and other “planets” separated from the Earth. [20] ◊ He said that Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter do not orbit the Sun. [21] ◊ And he taught that humans migrated to various planets (Mars, Saturn, Jupiter ... ) long, long ago. [22]

    Coming back down to Earth, Steiner advocated “biodynamic” agriculture. But (leaving reality again) he taught that farmers and gardeners should plant their crops in accordance with astrological conditions, especially the phases of the moon. [23] A fine way to prepare fields of planting is to bury cow dung in cow horns for a specified period of time, then dig up the horns, empty the decayed dung into buckets, add water, and stir vigorously, reversing the direction of the stirring every so often in order to maximize the resulting magic. Then spray the liquid onto your fields (if you have no better way to spend your time). [24]

    Steiner explained that evolution is not at all what Darwin and subsequent scientists have claimed. Steiner taught that the first living beings on Earth were humans (in a very different shape than we now enjoy). Thus, humans did not evolve from lower forms of life; just the opposite: Many of the animals on the Earth evolved (or devolved, or involved) from humans. [25]

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  92. The thing is, it's very, very easy to make a case that Waldorf schools ARE based on religion, and based on a philosophy that has racist, cultlike and generally weirdo aspects (the gnomes, the Lemurians, Atlantis, the bans on black crayons and mirrors, and on and on).

    Again, all anyone needs to do is stand at the mike during public comment and read some of Rudolf Steiner's writings, in tandem with statements from the Waldorf charter backers that the school will be inspired by Steiner's teachings.

    Whether kids come out of those schools actually believing in gnomes, Atlantis and Lemurians is not really relevant to that point. It's 100% fine if you want your private school to be based on those philosophies. This is about public money and a public school.

    That's why this proposal is guaranteed to cause needless controversy, divisiveness and energy-draining distraction at a critical time for our school district.

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  93. Islands float

    ROFL

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  94. Caroline,

    unless you are very very good -- you will never develop organs of clairvoyance.

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  95. FYI Katherine Michiels School has expanded their two year kinder program. It saved us last year,and my daughter is thriving there. Developmentally, it's an ideal setting for a 4 and 5 year old. My daughter came in as a second year kinder, and is fully ready for 1st grade (we've gone back into the public school lottery.)

    One of the best things about this little private school is that it's month to month, so you don't commit a large deposit. It's art focused and has, what I believe, the best kinder teacher in the world.

    FYI
    feel free to post your questions/email here if you'd like my impressions of KMS

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  96. "our children are in school more than they are with us... the school is also raising them"

    huh?

    My kid spends more time with me than he spends in school -- school is 30 hours a week.

    If your kid spends more time at school than with you, that is a very sad and grim reality.

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  97. RE opening new schools.

    What of the economy? California's budget cuts? We have more kids coming in, and less services. How would we open new schools?

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  98. Schools will probably have to increase class sizes, instead of 20 kids it could go up to 32. It's dismal.

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  99. When is the date that this charter is coming up for vote? We need to get some sensible people down there during public comment to bring up some of Steiner's ridiculous teachings.

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  100. 8:35,

    the proposal has gone back to the budget committee, I doubt it will get approval by that committee, so it won't even come to a full BOE vote.

    If I hear anything, I will post it here. You could also voice your concerns either via email or letter to all the BOE members.

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  101. 1/17 8:04-
    That is the grim reality for many of us. Part of my struggle with listing schools is that if we get one of our listed early start schools my son will be at school roughly 10 hours a day. Lucky you if your job or life allows you to pick up at the end of the school day. Not an option for 2 9-6 parents in this economy.

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  102. Why are so many of you foaming at the mouth about a Waldorf-based school?

    They do not teach any religion, duh! Do you think there would be over 20 Waldorf-based charter schools in California if they did? Do you think they teach any discredited freaky 19th century pseudo-science? They don't & can't: parents would NOT put up with it for a second, and the state would not allow it - charters have to follow SOME state guidelines.

    My nieces go to a Waldorf charter in Sebastopol, and my sis & b-in-law have never once encountered any of the stuff Caroline (Madame Defarge)et al are windbagging about.

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  103. It is interesting that some of the Waldorf supporters posting here make it clear they don't live in SF or send their children to SF schools. So why the interest in whether SF opens a Waldorf public school? I would bet that those of us who do live here don't care at all about what kinds of public schools open in Sebastopol or Monterey. But then we are not trying to spread our cult, either.

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  104. 10:34 AM here

    I live in San Francisco. Just because my sis lives in Sebastopol doesn't mean I don't live in SF. What kind of logic is that?

    I want a Waldorf charter in SF - I am pregnant & have a 3 year old!

    Um, yes, I think it is pretty relevant that there are successful Wald. charter schools in Monterey, Sebastopol, Ukiah, Arcata, Napa, Petaluma, Fair Oaks, Novato, San Diego, LA, AND MORE.

    Kind of puts a damper on the hysterical red herrings, hmm?

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  105. Another point that those making or supporting controversial proposals need to treat other community members, including critics, with respect. You doom your proposal when you start name-calling and disparaging individuals ("windbagging," "Madame Defarge" -- though perhaps you're just referring to my knitting habit -- I haven't turned in anyone to be guillotined lately, though).

    When you make the statement that the school will be inspired by the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, you obviously invite scrutiny of the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. That hardly seems outrageous.

    We know there are Waldorf charters in other districts. Those are evidently much more placid places than San Francisco. It doesn't wash to say, "They didn't question it in Sebastopol or Novato, so how dare you question it here?"

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  106. Caroline -

    You are the most snarky name caller here. You mock & belittle those you disagree with. I am stunned that you have the nerve and complete lack of shame to criticize others for allegedly employing your most well-known characteristics.

    Tell me, who wrote "how dare you question it here?" No one has written anything like that, but that is the sort of manipulative unkind BS that you seem addicted to slinging around.

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  107. But, Caroline, you are a very bitter windbag.

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  108. Why is it never possible to discuss these things WITHOUT name-calling?

    For all the love and gentleness the Waldorphians claim exists in their schools, it clearly isn't present in the parents posting here in Waldorf's defense.

    Why would the people wanting this charter say it is "based upon the teachings of Rudolph Steiner" but never actually talk about WHICH teachings of Steiner? SOME of them? The ones that aren't racist? The ones that aren't nonsense? Why call it "Steiner-based" and then not talk about what that means?

    The charters for Waldorfs were approved in other districts because they had clueless members on the board of education in those districts. Nobody looked into it. No other parents complained. I'm glad that won't be the case here in San Francisco.

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  109. I disagree. I don't namecall individuals -- I debate opinions and positions.

    And furthermore, as I'm one of the only non-anonymous posters here, those namecalling me are hiding behind anonymity while namecalling someone whose identity is known to all. So even if I did namecall -- which I don't -- it would be on an entirely different level. Namecalling an anonymous, unidentified individual would be pretty meaningless compared to namecalling a known community member (from behind cover of anonymity).

    However, while the namecaller(s) are anonymous as individuals, they are clearly identified as supporters of the proposed Waldorf charter, so their behavior backfires. My point is that those pushing a proposal that requires approval need to take pains to be civil and respectful to those who -- as part of the democratic process -- question it, challenge it or disagree with it. I'm not talking about right vs. wrong behavior; I'm talking about strategy and effectiveness. Even if I did namecall (which I don't), I'm not in that position.

    I once spoke at a BOE committee meeting against two proposed charter schools. The folks from one of the proposed schools booed and jeered me loudly while I was speaking. The folks from the other proposed school leaped to the microphone to emphasize that that wasn't their group doing the booing, while the BOE's most pro-charter member admonished the hecklers. Neither charter was approved in the end -- whatever the other reasons, that scene did not win them support or help their cause.

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  110. As you read the lengthy posts characterizing Waldorf education as religious or a cult, or vice versa, bear this in mind: The ONLY factual finding by a federal district court in California has been that Waldorf education is NOT so inherently religious that it's an improper curriculum for a taxpayer-funded school. This is on appeal but there has NOT yet been a LEGAL determination that Waldorf's curriculum is improper for public schools.

    Still, 100% agreed that SFUSD needs to make room for more kids without fighting over a controversial "public Waldorf" initiative. Because the other case is still pending, any step by SFUSD to establish a public Waldorf would immediately embroil the district in resource-sucking litigation. Even if there is a final decision allowing Waldorf in public schools, the vagueness of terms like "Waldorf-inspired" or "inspired by the pedagogical ideas of Rudolph Steiner" are problematic. The anti-Waldorf forces could sue again, saying that the kind or degree of "inspiration" at the SFUSD Waldorf makes the school religious, unlike the "inspiration" in other public schools the court found permissible. There are lots of other non-controversial ideas like another language immersion campus that can move forward without drama.

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  111. I have read all of these comments and am saddened greatly by the ignorance of what a waldorf school actually is. Yes, I am a mom who would love to be able to send my child to the SF Waldorf School, but can not afford it. I have read about Steiner and feel that while he was insightful when observing how children learn, he was an eccentric who did not have a scientific basis for a lot of his ideas and that does make him a controversial figure.
    But a school based on Steiner's ideas is a school based on his ideas of educating children. And it has evolved greatly since Steiner's time.
    I am not religious and would not want my child to have a religious education, but I would never say that all of Jesus' ideas were way off. I think the 10 Commandments have great merit and I think there are a lot of wonderful ideas that can be culled from a buddhist perspective that would greatly benefit society.
    What I like about a waldorf education is the thoughtfulness that is put into building a child's self esteem. They learn about plants by planting a garden. They learn about architecture by building a structure, they learn about nature by camping in it. They learn about language and music by learning different languages and playing different instruments.
    I'm very sorry if there are those who have been to a Waldorf school and did not benefit from it. I'm sure that can happen in any school. I myself wish I could sue the public school system of Upstate New York for trying to indoctrinate me into the cult of capitalism and conformity. I lost my faith in education soon after high school and was not able to finish college no matter how many times I tried.
    So now I feel my only options to educate my daughter in San Francisco is to fight for a Waldorf inspired charter school, or home school. I really hope that ignorance of what the proposed charter school actually is or the fact that I am not an accredited teacher, will not hinder these only options.

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  112. " They learn about plants by planting a garden. They learn about architecture by building a structure, they learn about nature by camping in it. They learn about language and music by learning different languages and playing different instruments."

    Wow, it sounds just like my son's public school.

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  113. I know nothing about Waldorf, but I have to second the posters who say that just because a school is inspired by Steiners's teachings doesn't mean it will incorporate or condone all, or even most, of his beliefs. If you had a playground that was 'inspired by Disney entertainment' you wouldn't expect it to exclude homosexuals or Jews even if that's what Disney did. Obviously, there was so much more to the man, as appears to be the case with Steiner.

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  114. Leaving Steiner's racist ideology behind, and even ignoring the current existence of a Waldorf school in San Francisco with very generous financial aid programs:

    1. Charter schools take money from existing public schools.
    2. This charter school in particular sure looks like an entitlement program to me. I'm going to guess that even as an immersion school its demographics would look nothing like the District's as a whole.

    If the District truly has any commitment to equity, this charter should not move forward - especially now, when the financial crisis guarantees less for all schools and will hit schools whose communities cannot raise extra cash especially hard.

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  115. Yeah, but to be a Waldorf teacher you have to study Anthroposophy, the weird religion Steiner founded. Why would you do that if it wasn't meant to affect your teaching?

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  116. I think the "ignorance" is with parents who are "into" Waldorf, but haven't really investigated what it is really about or what the children are exposed to.

    If those parents just read the curriculum all Waldorf teachers must read, they might think twice.

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  117. I am a well-educated divorcee single mother. My daughter and I will be moving to the Bay area from out of state this Spring.
    Please recognize that NONE of the afore mentioned "quotes" have been taught to my 7 year old.

    I agree with educating "the whole child"--head heart and hands IN ALL SCHOOLS.

    My daughter has not been taught that the heart is a pump. She has been taught that it is a place for COMPASSION. She also knows that it is a muscle and explained the anatomy in as much depth as she might be capable of understanding. She also came home the other day and told me that the sun is a star and the earth circles it, among other planets in our galaxy. She is articulate and expressive and full of desire to learn.

    "...our children are in school more than they are with us"

    -it is true that while they are AWAKE the time spent with us and the time spent at school is nearly equivilant but slightly off-balance. I pick my daughter up at 3:30 pm and she is in bed by 7:30pm. And we sepend about 1.5 hrs together in the morning.

    It is really very important to accept that the schools our children attend have an impact on their entire being and furthermore an impact on the world.

    And, that said, we must take into consideration the immense number of people on anti-depressants who are struggling with a deep sense of emptiness and loss of direction.

    Can we not explore other ways of addressing education:

    "In 1997, through the support of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Waldorf Education Research
    Institute (WERI) began a three-year study to investigate Waldorf education. The purpose of the study was
    to determine to what extent the pedagogical principles and practices of Waldorf education could be made
    general to public schools, particularly those serving poor minority children in urban settings. Data derived
    from a survey of 20 individuals involved in Waldorf and Waldorf-inspired schools provided three themes
    for the investigation: (1) education that addresses the needs of the whole child; (2) education that
    integrates the arts in curriculum, and (3) education with a clearly articulated philosophy of child
    development and teacher self-development. Such an investigation should help to inform the existing
    debate regarding Waldorf education's relationship to public schooling."

    From my perspective, these are simple, healthy explorations with a wonderful intention. And there have been multiple adaptations to the earliest Waldorf philosophies expressing a progressive, forward-moving approach to our rapidly changing world, here are some other statements to check out:

    "We don't use any kind of religious stuff at all," says Ruth Mikkelsen. principal of T.E. Matthews school in Yuba City. a Yuba County Office of Education Waldorf school for juvenile offenders. "We are using the state curriculum. Steiner's philosophy is not outright taught in the schools." Mikkelsen is enthusiastic about the Waldorf courses - designed especially for public school teachers - that she and her staff have taken at the Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, Calif.. and pleased with how well her traditionally difficult-to-reach students have responded to Waldorf techniques.

    Betty Staley teaches Waldorf education at Steiner College and directs workshops to train public school teachers in the Waldorf approach. She maintains that training for the public schools is different in many respects than for private schools. and that Waldorf teachers are careful to modify parts of the curriculum. Instead of teaching stories about saints in the second grade, for example, teachers might substitute stories of secular heroic figures. "We are supportive of adaptation." she says. "Steiner maintained that we have to relate to differing situations."

    Karen Young, a school board member in the Sacramento City Unified School District is a strong advocate for choice and maintains that Waldorf education absolutely belongs in public schools. "Not all forms of education fit all children," she says. The future challenge to our school boards will not only be to accommodate choice, but to do so with open eyes. School boards need to assure themselves that proposed programs are sound and legal, and ensure that parents know what will be in store for their children.

    And please refer to this data:

    http://www.madronetrail.org/Relevance%20of%20Waldorf%20education.pdf

    I really cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars yearly for my daughter to be educated in a way that should be available to EVERYONE. Please give this charter school movement a chance so that I can afford to send her to college.

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  118. Even
    After
    All this time
    The sun never says to the earth,
    “You owe
    Me.”
    Look
    What happens
    With a love like that,
    It lights the
    Whole
    Sky

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  119. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Dk_yESjhWw

    exquisite

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  120. Yuck ... out of tune and bad percussion.

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  121. "Steiner maintained....blah blah Steiner said....blah blah"

    I'm still waiting for the "Waldorf-inspired" school that doesn't lead directly back to Steiner. I don't argue that some parts of Waldorf--walks in the woods for example--are very nice. Although there *are* schools, both public and private, that do many of these things, despite your claims to be unique!

    It's the sectarian stuff that many of us object to, and I haven't seen a "Waldorf-inspired" school yet, including the one under consideration, that has separated itself from the anthroposcopic roots, e.g., in the Rudolf Steiner College teacher training. They may figure out how to use different language to keep it looking non-sectarian, but they are basically still requiring that their teachers be inculcated in anthroposophy, and they still use the gnomes and the eurythmic dance and the special watercolor techniques and the fairy tales--all of which lead directly back to Steiner's spiritualist belief system, even if the words are not used, or at least not in public.

    Imagine if a group proposed starting a "Mormon-inspired" public school here. They would steer clear of talk about divine inspiration, but yeah, they would learn history through the story of Joseph Smith and the pioneers. Their study of myths and fairy tales would focus on the Angel Moroni. Their study of writing would begin with the Book of Mormon. And all their teachers would be trained at Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City to teach special public school version of the Mormon curriculum. And these parents would be telling us, and the BoE, how important it is that their kids get this special education, that should be available to everyone, because social values are so important and boys learn how to be men and girls learn how to be women and the regular public schools just don't teach this. And these parents feel just terrible because they can't afford to pay for the private Mormon education down the street, so please, can't the rest of you pay for this very important educational approach for our kids, because they NEED these special social values.

    No thanks. I'm sorry some of really want this but can't afford SF Waldorf, but we do not owe your child a sectarian education! The Roman Catholics do a great job of making their faith-based education accessible to a wide variety of families, even working-class families. They subsidize it. That is the appropriate approach.

    I suggest that you either a) ask for financial aid from SF Waldorf, which I understand is usually available; or b) go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan to use the Waldorf "whole child" approach without the sectarian baggage, then go back to the BoE in a couple of years.

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  122. A research study funded by Waldorf activists involving a survey of just 20 individuals?

    Does that seem like sound, objective research methodology to anyone?

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  123. 2:19 PM - You wrote "I haven't seen a "Waldorf-inspired" school yet, including the one under consideration, that has separated itself from..."

    How many do you seen? Are you a teacher? Did your kids attend one? I'd be interested in more feedback...as far as I've heard, people of all religious backgrounds go to waldorf without any problem. My neighbor's kids went to the sf one (they're in college now) they are Jewish, she said there was no religion, though.

    Is there some religious part of it that is hidden?

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  124. It isn't a peer reviewed study, it doesn't appear to have been published anywhere, it is flimsy and badly written.

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  125. One post and I'll leave it to the rest of you to shred feathers.

    Mormonism and Catholic faiths are widespread religions with basis in the story of the Bible. The history of the Christian God is centuries old and did not have a logistical basis in modern day education practices. Steiner, among other things, created a philosophy, an architectual ideology, a gardening system and also offered a concept for education. (I am sure there are federally funded agricultural programs in which these methods are explored-with your tax dollars)

    Many of the teachings in Montessori schools are designed by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. But people don't bring that up and Montessori has been a valid educational method for decades. And Maria Montessori was a Roman Catholic Scientist. Hmmm...

    The difference here folks, is that with Christianity, "God" is the supreme being who said to do this or that, and what is pious and what will send one straight to hell.

    Maria Montessori developed systems for teaching youth. Steiner did the same with similar intentions, different methods.

    Leonardo Di Vinci was Christian and almost all of his work was of the Spiritual nature. There are many schools today which use his name and teach his practices.

    Bottom line here is that this movement has begun. There is no turning back. However small, the numbers are proving that Waldorf type educational systems have been successful.

    Yes, leave out the mention of the name Steiner. Develop a system based on Waldorf Philosophy--the parts that don't relate to far-out esoteric belief systems, and let the kids enjoy their youth with a group of excited teachers, families and educators who feel this method is successful.

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  126. Have you seen some of the crappy terrible public schools your tax dollars are funding. Why don't you investigate that. Both sides of this argument should take some time to worry about money being spent on teachers with rediculous drug problems, children sitting in front of a TV you paid for learning nothing, students unable to learn because there aren't enough educational materials to go around. More than half of the schools in California face these problems. Solutions folks.

    Let's all start promoting what we want done and make some small sacrifices on the way to our goals instead of fighting about what's right or wrong.

    They are just kids...they want to learn and grow and be loved.

    BTW. There's a point in life where logic sets in. Any child who is read fairy tales comes to a place in their development where they reject them as truth.

    Many people tell children there is a Santa and tooth fairy and I know we talk about these stories in the public school I work in.

    Whatever. I think it would be amazing to see a Waldorf Charter open in SF. Read the stories, plant trees, have a nature table, explore culture through rhymes and dance...

    It would be alot more beautiful than what I see everyday despite my underpaid efforts. I wish I had a supportive community of parents and teachers excited about exploring new learning methods.

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  127. *Many of the teachings in Montessori schools are designed by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology.*

    ????????

    Citation, please.

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  128. Talk about info babysitters... we have one big-time, anti-Waldorf one here!

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  129. Can someone please start a new thread about an issue of REAL concern to parents, like what schools did everyone list, or what fallback positions do people have in place in case they don't get one of their choices? Or what are our hopes and dreams for education with a new administration coming in 48 hours? or anything besides this constant "you're wrong" "no, you're wrong" shreiking!!??

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  130. Many of the teachings in MOntessori were designed by L. Ron Hubbard?

    I have never heard that.

    Proof?

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  131. 3:29pm, what is the source of your allegation? Can you list a citation?

    My google search tonight only found news reports indicating that the Montessori educational method is *NOT* based on anything by L. Ron Hubbard. What I found:

    1) A Montessori school in Toronto was recently in the news because it introduced a study method (applied scholastics) that is based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. Many parents then reacted angrily, with at least one parent pulling her child from the school, because such a study method is *NOT* Montessori-based. See:
    http://tinyurl.com/4lofyg

    2) In 1986, several teachers in a Chicago-area Montessori school were fired when they *REFUSED* to use books designed by L. Ron Hubbard. Two-thirds of the families then withdrew from the school in protest over the firings. See:
    http://tinyurl.com/9ehjmn

    Seriously, what is the source of your allegation? All I see are two schools, 22 years apart, that both alienated and outraged many of their students' parents when they attempted to bring anything by L. Ron Hubbard into the curriculum. The Montessori method has been used in many countries for the past 100 years. Show us a source for your allegation that Hubbard's writings from half that long ago have in any way influenced the Montessori method.

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  132. At the Applied Scholastics schools it is easy to recognise streaks of John Dewey’s “Learning by doing”, of Montessori methodology and Waldorf pedagogy and of Problem Based Learning (PBL), all this in common with the basic principles of Johann Amos Comenius (1562-1670). When L. Ron Hubbard in 1938 started to put together the basic principles for progressive studies, consisting of ten points for successful studies and the three barriers to study which must be overcome, he build on the same bitter experience as Comenius 300 years earlier: the school is a “chamber of torture for brains”. (7) Comenius developed his basic principles for successful studies in Didactica Magna, which is the basis of the first school arrangements of Western Europe and North America, adopted in Sweden in 1649. (8) My studies through many years of the history of ideas show that independent of each other Hubbard’s and Comenius’ basic principles - and basic criticism against the deductive education - are identical in the essential. Hubbard’s basic concept - Applied Scholastics - gives the teacher some basic technical tools for education - just like Comenius - to be used in the pedagogic work.

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  133. This thread is an example to me of how unhelpful, nasty, and extreme on-line "conversations" can be. There is nothing here about the "SFUSD prepared for an influx of kids" which was the original topic.

    I think this blog, as it has grown and drawn lots of attention, has lost a lot of it's helpfulness. It appears to be something that is now monitored by interest groups who have axes to grind.

    It's disheartening to come to this link and instead read a bunch of extremists trashing Waldorf education, and being snarky and rude. Nothing to learn with that.

    I didn't go to Waldorf, my child isn't in Walforf, but it's a legitimate educational philosophy, or so says the people I know and respect, friends who are child psychiatrists, teachers, MBA's, artists, etc.

    I don't care if there's a charter school or if it's Walforf inspired. It's so unhelpful to hear the extremists who assume people want to start some racist gnome school.

    The opportunity to learn more about this proposed school and evaluate it on its own merits or lack their of, is now lost because of the loud reactionaries who shut down the process.

    Too bad. We all lose-this blog and those reading this blog-when there can't be civil discussion.

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  134. Like it or not, Waldorf *is* controversial. Trying to get chartered as a public Waldorf is bound to be especially controversial.

    It's not like the whole blog has been taken over by this topic. I think most people pretty much don't think about Waldorf unless one of their schools gets shut down by the county health dept for a measles or whooping cough outbreak (as happened at East Bay Waldorf last May). The controversy on this thread was sparked when the very first poster exhorted parents to "raise your voices loud and clear" in support of the proposed Waldorf public charter in our own city, with our public school resources.

    Well, the response didn't arise out of nowhere. No one has been sitting on this blog waiting for that topic to be introduced. I've commented on many topics and never mentioned Waldorf. No one suddenly decided, geez, I don't know anything about Waldorf but I will assume the worst of these people. No, the controversy arose because there are reasonable concerns to be raised, and some of us do know what we are talking about, either from personal experience or from research, both hands-on and otherwise.

    It may be that people some of you respect believe there is a legitimate educational basis to Waldorf. I myself think there are some good and attractive elements to it, ones that are in common with other progressive methods and are a good antidote to methods focused on testing. However, it is also true that many reasonable people have reasonable concerns about the sectarian elements--the constant focus on "Steiner said" this and that; the spiritualist elements that underlie techniques such as eurythmic dancing and wet on wet watercolor painting, and yeah, you bet, those dratted gnomes. More than anything for me, the secretive sense of being in the "know" held by those close to it (I guess they are the "clairvoyant" ones....).

    I think you would find little opposition in SF to a generic progressive charter school that proposes to use a variety of tested progressive methods--even drawing on some of the Waldorf ideas. But a "Waldorf-style" school--well, that'll bring it on. There are legitimate concerns about that. And accusing people who raise those concerns of being anti-progressive education is missing the point.

    Btw, calling people who ask reasonable questions "extremists" is guaranteed to increase the controversy. Seems to me most of the snark and name-calling has been from those who purport to defend the Waldorf public school idea. In fact, it seems like a form of misdirection to me. Would love to hear answers to the reasonably posed questions about what are those gnomes, or why is it necessary for teachers to be accredited to Rudolf Steiner College or similar anthroposophic institution, or why can't this school take the good stuff and leave the controversy--the association with the anthroposophists--behind? Several people have asked that question and no one has answered.

    One last thing, I think Montessori can be a great method and I have never heard of a Scientology connection--but would consider them to be sectarian as well--wouldn't be shocked either if they tried to move in on Montessori schools here and there. There *can* be progressive methods that are separate from the belief systems of the founder--e.g., Montessori--but I really have not seen that with Waldorf yet. Those who are building up Waldorf all over this country do not seem to want that separation.

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  135. i wonder how many of these posts are by the same person speaking as if from another anti-waldorf voice. leave'um to it guys. Let 'um fester in their own blown up labyrinth of fears. they'll only become their own reality. not yours. the only thing to fear is fear fear fear fear fear

    your skin is a different color, so my education is a different color, his work is a different color. how beautiful and diverse can we make the spectrum. life is about exploration. let life. let be.

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  136. Case in point, eh, 12:55. Such a "civil" and forthcoming response to the questions raised [eye roll].

    I have written a couple of these posts questioning the proposed school. By no means have I written all of them. I actually didn't check this blog for a couple of days and came back today to find many more comments. I don't know--I suppose it is possible there is just one other person posting the rest?--but I do know from talking with others that I am not alone in my concerns. Nor does speculating about me and the others actually answer the concerns.

    CRR, that's a nice thought about a beautiful and diverse spectrum. I love and honor the diversity of our country, including our diversity of religions and faiths. I also believe we have this diversity exactly because we keep church and state separate. We *protect* the diverse beliefs of our people by insisting that they be kept private. I would raise the same concerns about any other sectarian group seeking a public charter. ANY. In other words, this is based on principle, not fear.

    Not sure where you are coming from with this wild "fear, fear, fear, fear, fear" language. My cynical thought is that it is a novel form of misdirection from the most basic, original concern raised on this thread about granting a public school charter to a sectarian group--which has yet to be answered.

    You want to explore the world of Waldorf in your life, I'll be happy to let be! The question of a public charter is another thing altogether, because asking for public resources and name is an imposition of your beliefs on the rest of us. Again: this is why we have this constitutional principle of separation of church and state. Raising this question as an issue does not imply that anyone is trying to take away your freedom to explore waldorf or anthroposophy or anything else on your own or with like others--actually, the opposite is true. We'll have that beautiful spectrum of diversity if we fight to keep our freedoms intact--including freedom of religion.

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  137. Most Waldorf parents have only a superficial understanding of Waldorf, and on the surface, Waldorf is *very* attractive. Start digging and it gets ugly, though. Few dig. I bet most of parents involved in the Charter initiative (and even some of the educators who have not had Steiner training) know little about Anthroposophy and how it is woven into the curriculum in subtle ways.

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  138. As noted early in this discussion:

    In our community (unlike more laid-back locales), a proposal for a publicly funded Waldorf(ish) school will be controversial.

    It has potential to get ugly.

    With critical issues on the district's agenda (funding, the assignment process, the likely enrollment surge, the achievement gap and more), a needless ugly controversy is a harmful distraction.

    The subsequent discussion would appear to confirm those points resoundingly.

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  139. 1:03 wrote: "Let 'um fester in their own blown up labyrinth of fears. they'll only become their own reality."

    Gosh folks, don't you want YOUR kids to learn how to speak like a keeper of the forest realm?

    You are not of the body -- you will be absorbed. It is the will of Landrew. Are you one with the body?

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  140. Wasn't it:

    are you "of" the body?

    My Waldorf brainwashed niece was convinced she could cast wiccan spells on people to make them do what she wanted ...

    too bad she can't get anyone to give her a job, but prancing around like Isadora Duncan and acting smug isn't up there on the list of what employers are looking for in today's market.

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  141. Are there any proposals out there other than the Waldorf one to expand programs, reopen a school, etc. for new kindergarten boomlet? I heard the board is considering it, but no details as yet.

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  142. I think they plan to open more immersion programs at schools that need more enrollment, to attract a more diverse population. It's a good idea.

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  143. 8;30, be fair. She must have some talent. I bet she makes a really cool godseye with twigs and yarn.

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  144. I am finding more and more that topics which are posted on this blog are being hijacked. Where is the discussion on this thread about "Is SFUSD prepared for an influx of kids"?

    That is actually quite an interesting topic which should provoke great discussion. I'd like to learn more about the district's plans for next year. Anyone have some good insight?

    Maybe I'm alone here, but I sure would love it if we could please stick to the topics as posted. Another thread could be created for those interested/opposed to the Waldorf method of schooling.

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  145. The gating factor for immersion is finding enough qualified teachers. I fear the demand may have already outstripped the supply. I saw lots of spelling mistakes on the walls of the Spanish-immersion classrooms I visited this Fall and heard grammar mistakes as well. It is a shame, because the easiest way to teach grammar and spelling is to expose young children to proper grammar and spelling. That is how you develop the sense that something doesn't quite look or sound like if it is misspelled, mispronounced or is grammatically incorrect.

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  146. I don't think the Waldorf issue is off topic here. It's another school that is under consideration by the BOE. It's a school that, if approved, would address the population surge. But it is a school that would use up valuable resources that could be diverted better elsewhere, and we wouldn't have the separation of church and state problem.

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  147. It's not off topic to discuss Waldorf, the first post in this thread was offering the magical "solution" of getting the BOE to approve a Waldorf school; hence the discussion. Simply skip the Waldorf posts if you don't want to read them.

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  148. Hey, I like the discussion!

    That stuff about Waldorf Science was hilarious. Islands floating.
    I laughed so hard my kid came into the room to see what was happening. And how thinking doesn't occur in the brain? Maybe not at those schools:)
    LOL

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  149. caroline, go away. please.

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  150. 8:30 AM - your bitterness is creepy.

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  151. "The gating factor" - what does that mean?

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  152. Bitter? Nope. I am sad about what my sister did to her lovely children.

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  153. Wasn't there a Russian-immersion charter school proposal several years ago?

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  154. http://tinyurl.com/72z4m3

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  155. "b) possible solutions include the opening of a Waldorf type school(possible spanish immersion)program. The district is very open to this. It may be a charter or simply incorporated into the district. The District does not have the funds to open up a new school at least on the westside and bungalows are(supposedly) very expensive to obtain and maintain.
    There is an elementary school sitting dormant at Cabrillo and Balboa that was closed recently to respond to the past drop in enrollments but now be reopened or may house this possible Waldorf school. Parents, raise your voices to the Board loud and clear if you are interested since the decision will be be made soon on this."

    The answer is in this post. Instead of arguing in this ugly anonymous blog. Go to the board. Write all of your heart felt opinions in letters (with your full legal name). Rather than posting anonymous ramblings which won't grow corn. Do that and the point will be made clear.

    There aren't any solutions being saught here.

    I am sorry if I sound trite with my "fear fear fear fear fear" comment but it is just undeniably off-base. All of these clairvoyant fairy dancing, gnome kingdom fears. We are ADULTS please leave the fairy tale behind and recognize the reality: Waldorf is working for many people. Waldorf student graduates go on to amazing grad schools and end up bright precocious progressive learners who aren't afraid to think outside the box and are able to imagine and create things most people thought to be impossible.

    Please, Waldorf/immersion supporters, don't feed this fire. Go out to the board of ed and make it clear that it is possible to open this waldorf inspired charter school.

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  156. Not gonna happen.

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  157. Thank you blog babysitter ;)

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  158. "Waldorf student graduates go on to amazing grad schools and end up bright precocious progressive learners who aren't afraid to think outside the box and are able to imagine and create things most people thought to be impossible."

    Examples?

    I know the founders of AMazon and Google are Montessori kids. Don't know any Waldorf examples.

    Do know a friend's daughter is thinking of becoming a doula or midwife instead of an OB (her longtime dream) because her Waldorf high school didn't prepare her well enough for pre-med science courses (her assessment, not mine).

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  159. Please people if I can offer you any advice: ignore this blog and move along through your life as if it never existed. It is full of scary exaggerations and sad focus on negative stuffy stagnant viewpoints.

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  160. oh and we ALL want our kids to grow up to be dot.commers and doctors. ug.

    Anything is possible. How many universities did your friends daughter apply to? Many institutions are seeking a diverse student body from different ethnic, economic and educational backgrounds. Why don't you get off the internet and help her!

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  161. No we don't all want them to be dot.commers and doctors. But we don't want the choice made FOR them by lack of preparation on the school's part.

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  162. To be fair , I know of a few kids from Waldorf who have gone off to college, but I know more who have bombed on their SATS and can't go to a 4 year college, so they go to City Colleges instead.

    And yes, not all kids have to be doctors or scholars, but the other person is right, it should be because of their choice, not because we sent them to a doofy school.

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  163. SFUSD is never going to approve of a Steiner Charter, so we should just change the subject.

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  164. It is not up to the school board - the state Brd. of Ed. in Sacramento has the final call. They love charter schools.

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  165. 5:02 is correct about the process. The state Board of Ed, appointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger (a fervent fan of charter schools), is packed with charter school advocates.

    If those proposing a charter school apply to a school district for a charter and are turned down, they can go to the county Board of Ed, and if they're turned down again, to the state Board of Ed. The law puts strict limits on the reasons that a district board may turn down a charter.

    Charters approved by the state BOE are then governed by the state BOE and aren't technically part of the district. The only example here is Edison Charter Academy, a rent-paying tenant (operated by the remnants of once-controversial, for-profit Edison Schools Inc.) in an SFUSD site at 22nd and Dolores.

    In SFUSD, because the city, county and school district are contiguous, the BOE does double duty as the county BOE, so a charter proposal voted down by our BOE would go directly to the state BOE if it so chose.

    BTW, the state BOE will give a grant of $500,000 to pretty much anyone who wants to open a charter, to finance the work on the proposal (or at least this has been the case in the past; perhaps the budget crisis is putting a damper on that, though charter schools are very high priority in the Schwarzenegger administration). The proposed Russian charter school someone mentioned, which had one of those grants, was voted down by the SFUSD BOE, and its sponsors didn't pursue its proposal further.

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  166. Cool! So all I have to do is put together some proposal, any proposal, for a school, no matter how ill-founded, and I can get $500K?

    I'll get to work tomorrow!

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  167. Well, the BOE turned down the proposed Sputnik charter at the same time as another proposed charter, a high school called Baytech, whose would-be operators were running a struggling school in Oakland (since closed).

    The majority of the SFUSD BOE is (or was then) open to charters, and as noted needed clear, defined reasons to vote them down, so presumably they had good reason. But each of those proposed charters had gotten the $500,000 seed money from the state.

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  168. By the way, there is a petition to make neighborhood schools an option for 2010. You can sign it at:
    http://citizenspeak.org/node/1429

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  169. Good grief, who cares? Yes, rich and famous people send their kids to schools without regard to their children ever having to make a living or WORK.

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  170. I sure hope your family doesn't end up at our school!

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  171. Don't worry, if your school is a steiner cult school, there is no danger of my family being there!

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  172. In this month's RATIONALIST:

    The delusional world of Rudolf Steiner

    http://tinyurl.com/7vzj76

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  173. Go on there miss multipersonality disorder...have a grand finale of negative anti waldorf comments. No one cares.

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  174. My process over the last year and a half.

    1. Figured private was our only good option.
    2. Researched public schools.
    3. Considered both privates and publics.
    4. Started leaning toward publics.
    5. Applied to both.
    6. Developed increasing concern about the economy and shrinking educational funds in the publics.
    7. Leaning toward privates again.

    It sucks, but just based on what I fear will happen in our public schools financially I'm scared to commit to sending my kid there.

    And if class sizes really might go up to 30+, that's just too much to accept.

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  175. Enough waldorf sniping.

    I have real news.

    I posted the original response on 12/13 to see what folks knew about and could share about SFUSD strategies for dealing with increase in enrollment. The passion for and against Waldorf was initially informative but then became progressively ick...Waldorf schmaldorf- enough.

    So listen up!!

    here is real scoop

    Today the district has decided to allow kindergarten classes to be enrolled to 21 students.

    That is right.

    Those of you who are waiting for kindergarten spots need to go down to the district and see if you can enroll your child as the 21st student in the school close to your neighborhood.

    They are giving preference to placing you in your neighborhood schools ( you request three and they are going to try to place you in one of them if there is room) so this may not be the best news for all of us waiting in the wings. But it represents real movement for many of us and finally a response to the over enrollment of the last year. Potentially it will be the same solution for next years class as well.

    Let's talk about this , please!!!!!

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  176. Don't a lot of private schools have LARGER class sizes than Public?
    I've heard some of the Catholic schools have 32 kids in their Kindergarten classes.

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  177. 3:22

    grow up

    you sound like a spoiled 7 year old

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  178. Are you really serious? How is the district supposed to deal with all the applications being REsubmitted?
    I don't think you have your information straight.

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  179. 7:13

    The privates we looked at don't have larger class sizes, but they aren't any of the Catholic schools. I don't know about those. Also, the privates seem to have a lot of teachers in the classroom. One day we visited there were four for about twenty students, though two were specialists who travel from class to class. (In fact, it was a bit odd with _that_ many teachers.)

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  180. 7:13, during my tours of privates, I saw larger class sizes BUT there was at least one teaching assistant as well as the main teacher, which helps with the ratio.

    21 beats 30, IMHO.

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  181. to clarify, when I said larger class sizes, I meant 23 or so, but not significantly more.

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  182. 7:20

    I am pretty sure I have it right because I was down there today to enroll and had it all confirmed.
    To clarify

    they are not soliciting re submitals of all applications. They are not broadcasting this new policy either.

    This is way for the district to deal with current children who applied and are eligible for kindergarten this year 08-09 but were never enrolled . There are a lot of us out there who sat on wait lists and never got in. When we talk about overenrollments, there was a serious overenrollment issue this year . Not families camping out pining only for Clarendon or Rooftop but many of us who get nothing.

    Typically there is lot of movement around 10 day counts and even around Xmas break , where spots open up. That did not happen this year. Simply there were applications than spots and more people stayed enrolled. That is why this issue is so important and why we need to do more than simply discuss waldorf pro and cons.

    So when...
    *Xmas break finished and very few spots opened up for kindergarten

    *the first grade applications came in and demonstrated the continued overenrollment issue

    * the kindergarten apps came in on yet another tidal wave of enrollment

    the district tried to figure out how to incorporate that one group of us out there to stem our growing anger at being abandoned.

    If you know someone like me, then tell them to hit Franklin street this week and see if they get enrolled at a school nearby. The spots are being opened up as we write this.

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  183. Burke's and Hamlin have 15-16 girls adn two teachers per kinder class.

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  184. 8:19 That's great news for all those families who still have nothing. One more kid shouldn't make much difference and by next fall someone will inevitably move away. In the meantime, all those 0/15 families don't have to go through this agony all over again.

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  185. Any reason the district isn't writing to the 0/15 families to let them know of this change in policy?

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  186. Have they mentioned their game plan for 2009-2010 enrollment? The words tidal wave makes me more than a little nervous...

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  187. How can the district decide not to notify the affected families of this new policy when the entire purpose of the policy seems to be to benefit the affected families???

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  188. i cannot confirm this, but i thought that class sizes from k-3 always had a little wiggle room: 21 - 23 max?

    are there any schools out there with 21, 22 or 23 kids that can confirm this?

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  189. I'm not sure, but I think the "wiggle room" involves averaging. Like, there can be 3 classes of 21 kinder students if there are 3 classes of 19 1st grade students. (Just as long as the overall average class size for... K-3?... is 20.)

    Anyone else know (for sure) how it works?

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  190. Also, they go on the premise that on any given day, at least one child will probably be absent, so, in theory, the classes will never have more than 20 kids in them.

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  191. i think the district gets fined when they officially have more than 20 enrolled in a class. (i'm pretty sure this is the case in my daughter's kinder class at clarendon jbbp, which is officially at 21. they took the hit on this because of flynnarado, i guess.)

    it would be quite amusing if this was indeed new "policy" but was not communicated to those it is intended to help because of fear they would actually take SFUSD up on its offer. sort of like creating a vaccine for polio, slapping a top-secret label on it and praying nobody crawls out of their iron lungs to partake....

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  192. Well, surely, since ALL of SF's schools are not full, this secret policy is intended to help the middle class white people. Don't you think they had better keep that a secret?

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  193. Well, our idiot Governor is going to get rid of the class size reduction perks and cram as many kids into each class as possible ...

    so soon there will be no cash reqard for having smaller class sizes

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  194. There are enough kinder spots for everyone, just not at the schools middle class white folks deem acceptable.

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  195. yeah, but if they're going to call this a "choice"-based system with no promises with regard to neighborhoods or even zones, then they have to build in some cushion. otherwise, whatever the politics of choice, it can't work. it's all fine and dandy -- relatively speaking -- until there's a baby boomlet, then -- KAPOW! -- no room for choice anymore.

    i think it's a little more complicated than pleasing white middle class bobos (which, based on my experience, seems to be the lowest on mr. garcia's list of priorities, and perhaps rightly so). west side cantonese-speaking folks are not happy with where they can get in, either.

    it seems clear that SFUSD has to come up with some solutions THIS YEAR for (1) a straight-up kid population increase that is in year two, three, four?; and (2) asap for some sort of neighborhood accommodation (doesn't have to be one school...support more of a zone "defense" myself).

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