I am having the rude awakening to Waldorf. I must eat crow because I have posted things in defense of Waldorf. We recently concluded our first and only year in a Waldorf charter school. I thought my daughter's teacher was wonderful. But I had concerns about the apparent loss in academic skills my daughter seemed to be experiencing in her time there. The behavior problems in the classroom were over the top and completely disruptive. I substituted at the school so I was able to see this problem wide spread, not just in one class. My daughter began to hate going to school out of boredom. She made some wonderful friends there, as did I but the only thing she seemed to actually learn was how to knit. I am glad she did. But we are home schooling this year and will from now on, at least until high school. I am presently assessing her skill level and am shocked at some very basic things that were taught but not emphasized that my daughter is way behind on. Others in the school were as well, and not just the areas that Waldorf admits students will be behind on for a short time. I don't have the energy to break down all the why's even though I am a licensed teacher. I just want to say how disappointed I feel and even betrayed I feel at making the discoveries I am now making with regard to my daughter's education. I will not put her education in others hands again like that. The problems that are epidemic in public schools and charter schools seem to be even more so in the Waldorf schools. I think Waldorf only works at home. Now I must go back to work on getting my daughter's education on track. Feel free to contact me with questions.
Clarification, I'm glad my daughter learned to knit. But I'm stunned at how little of anything else she learned. The deficits are huge. I wish I could say it was just my daughter. But I see our friends children going through the same thing, some finding other explanations. I observed children in all the grades I substituted in with the same problem. I feel really betrayed right now. I did not think a public school could be so ineffective in educating children. I am grateful for the concerns expressed by parents here because I read many of them (in disbelief) as we were starting at the Waldorf school. I thought they were more emotionally charged and perhaps either exaggerations, isolated or related to individual circumstances. Not any more. I observed the majority of the problems and concerns expressed in this thread in a short time there and am very sad to say it's all true. I have so much work to do with my daughter to not only get her back on track but get her academic habits re developed. I had thought the Waldorf school provided a more creative approach to learning, but that isn't what we experienced or observed. I am at a loss for words to describe some of the things, but it would take a better grasp on the functions of Waldorf to explain. I am not giving it any more of my energy or time. I see the danger and the damage. I'm still reeling in shock as I home school my daughter and uncover how much damage was done.
My daughter was a very good student, ahead of her age level before. Now she's functioning at and below grade level and has a negative attitude about school work too often. Her focus is poor. What kinds of approaches have worked for parents in re-engaging your children in learning post-Waldorf?
Both of my kids tried a local highly recommended private Waldorf school for less than a month. That was as long as they both could take it. They put their foot down after that and said "We won't go anymore".They both developed incredible fear over multiple "forbidden" things. It was at a point when my son would scream in fear refusing to go to school just because all his plain white shirts were in the laundry and I would suggest one with a picture of an animal on it (NOT any brand name or cartoon animal, but just an outline of a regular animal). My daughter would sob refusing to go because Monday morning she realized she had nail polish leftovers on her nails and we just could not find where our nail polish remover was. My kids were not permitted to eat their "sweets" one day. Excuse me, I am a nutritional consultant and what they called "their chocolates" were home made tahini balls: tahini with a bit of honey, xylitol, unsweetened cocoa powder and rolled in sesame seeds from the outside! So they did not allow them to eat those tahini rolls ("because they were sweets") and fed them some junky crackers instead! WTF!
My kids would sweat during hot and sunny early Fall days, but they would force them to wear hat and jacket every time regardless of the weather.
The main argument of Waldorf is that public school creates robots who are trained to take orders. Maybe it does with some kids (though I went through a public school and my biggest problem in life is that I can never follow rules or orders). But what about Waldorf?! Whether their rules makes ANY sense to the kids or not (for example, wearing a jacket and a hat when you are sweating), they force them to follow them, in other words, they train them to follow orders--even senseless ones--thoughtlessly without ever questioning them.
I said earlier I wasn't going to take the time to go over the problems. But twice recently I have talked to several friends of mine who either have a grandchild attending or are thinking about putting their grandchild that they are raising in the local Waldorf charter school. I didn't want to talk them out of it, but I told them about our experience, which was not all bad. But now that I have some perspective, I see the whole picture a little better. I feel the overall cultish aspects of anthroposophy are more at work than they should be in a publicly funded school in this particular school. The principal and key staff at the school were very clearly strong believers in the philosophy and imposed their beliefs on the students and staff. Like how they handled children who were injured was not consistent with requirements in public schools and frequently children with broken bones or needing stitches or other medical attention were simply sent back to class. I personally observed this so this is not just rumor. I was stunned. No school should be making the kind of decisions regarding children's health in the manner they did. They did not contact the parents, which was the most concerning part. One child came to school the next day showing me his cast. When I asked him how he broke his hand, he told me it was rolling logs on the playground at school. Log rolling is a common Waldorf playground activity. I had seen him sitting on the playground crying while I was working with another class. I asked the teacher what was wrong and she said "oh he's fine, he just bumped his hand." I was just sick to my stomach when I realized my concern was valid and I should have gone further with it. There were other incidents,but the details will probably reveal too much about the specific school. More than once I reported injuries of students to the office asking them to contact the parents after I realized they didn't inform parents of these things. They were very unpleasant to me about this but I stood in the office and watched them make the phone call. The liability alone dictates they inform the parents. The school district policies as well. Their own personal opinions on medical treatment are not theirs to impose on the children but they did. Various safety concerns that are more common in new charter schools in general were rampant. The Waldorf slant on this just added in a level of inattention and lack of concern. There were a number of local incidents that year affecting school children and the schools response to the safety of the children was less than comforting. I worked the day when the local authorities required them to conduct safety drills and they performed abysmally.
The school was awful to the staff and the staff had no support. Teachers were left on their own to deal with students who were constantly disruptive in class. I learned that the disruptive behavior in classes was epidemic and not limited to just my experience as a substitute nor any grade level. I got to see it in all grade levels. Maybe children learned to behave 100 years ago with this method but it is a poor fit culturally for today's children and behaviors. Most classes are anarchy with some control occasionally.
Academically, I'm very disappointed how weak Waldorf is in academics. There is a big difference between having a holistic education and no education and Waldorf unfortunately leans to far to the no education. The arts part is not arts the way we understand them to be. The science is utterly appalling. Children need to learn science, not just the ancient concept of the four elements. Nor should the ancient concept of the four elements serve as the dominant explanation for all things scientific which is what I'm coping with now when I'm teaching my daughter science. The letter formations they did are not helping her now with handwriting. Their claim to teach advanced math in the earlier grades doesn't seem to be adding up either. I'm having to go back a full year to teach her math concepts she should have learned last year. Reading has taken time to even get her interested in it again. It's still as touch and go issue. She was reading above her grade level before she started there and loved to read. Nobody had to force her. They say the middle school students receive a rigorous education. But I substituted in those classes as well and saw virtually nothing akin to academic rigor. It was more soft academics with pretty pictures being drawn around a concept, singing songs, playing music, acting out plays and hand work. There was not one part of the day they did anything that counted as academic rigor. I don't know where those kids will go to high school but they will not be prepared for high school work. I never taught algebra in that entire middle school and what passed for science was more of an art lesson with some nice ideas. The writing skills of the 8th graders were no better than those of kids I taught in title one schools where the majority of the students were learning English. It concerns me to think about what will happen to those kids later.
The only levels the Waldorf concepts made academic sense is in preschool and kindergarten. It's perfect for those ages.
The thing that I find most troubling is the philosophy that is so greatly understated when investigating this style of education is the governing philosophy. This particular school claims they are incorporating Waldorf ideals into a regular curriculum. But they aren't. They are putting up a show of applying regular curriculum and trying to run as Waldorf of a school as they can get away with using public funds. The most distressing part is they don't want parents to understand Waldorf unless they are fully committed to it. They wanted us to trust them with our child's education without questioning what they were actually teaching. That is a cult not an educational philosophy. They were being deceptive about what they were actually teaching. If you take the Waldorf ideas that are beneficial to a child's education and leave out the negative and questionable stuff, you are left with an incomplete model for a school. I don't know if other Waldorf schools do this. But the one we attended did. I think the school district should stop funding them because they are in violation of too many basic public education principles.
I can't tell you how happy I am to have found this group.
We have had a horrid experience with our local W school, and it has taken us a long time to heal enough to be able to articulate the big picture.
We see now that we were targeted because we tried our best to make the community more transparent, healthier.
WE is the opposite of transparency, as Anthroposophy is an "occult science." And Occult, as we know, means hidden.
The secrecy and lies were so pervasive, that the culture of fear that grew around that was deeply unhealthy and hurtful in so many ways.
Sadly, because we had the fortitude to stand up, they targeted our young child, knowing full well we would leave to protect her/him.
Our story is long and painful, and I was shocked to find out how NOT alone we are when it comes to this kind of treatment in WE.
If there is anyone out there who would like to connect around having been hurt by a WS please let me know.
I wish I had found this group two years ago.
My son has been in a Waldorf school for two years now. I originally put him in b/c of the "lax" approach to early education and the love for nature and outdoors that the school had. I wanted to believe in it. Everything just seemed so beautiful and the approach to learning made sense to me. I never bought into the religious Steiner views, but loved all the other aspects. Also, I always felt my son had ADHD or some sort of mental health problem or developmental delay. I had such little support from those around me to pursue on my instincts however.
My son is now so far behind in his schooling that I feel that we have lost precious ground we can never get back.
In school he was the one hurting other children, being disruptive in class, and completely defiant and disruptive, he couldn't sit still for a thing. His relationships with everyone was entirely taxed and strained to where people avoided us. The teachers did nothing about my son's behavior, in fact, I was rarely ever told. A good day, I found out, was him being in time-out "only" five times. When I got a call one day that he had scratched up another kid so bad that he had marks all over his face I did what I should have done long ago and sought out the help of a good ped. and we are set up to start counseling soon.
My son was just this week diagnosed with ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Chronic Tics disorder. What was told to me would "go away with time" or reiterated to me over and over and over again was a problem with our parenting, diet, allergies, etc. etc was a bunch of hogwash. He is six years old and can't even count to 20, identify letters or numbers, or write his own name.
I am on the precipice of quitting the school, but feel so stuck. My son really loves his peers and he just isn't academically going to succeed in even a public school kindergarten at this point. Waldorf has been the only school he knows.
Hi everyone. I'm new here. Thanks for starting this group.
My child attended a very Waldorf school (as opposed to inspired) for K and first grade. I'm not even sure where to begin at how bizarre Waldorf can be, and how it can sneak up on you.... just when you feel safe and happy, you realize many of the people who follow or run the school are.... how do I put this.... kinda crazy.... because they have some very, very strange belief systems, totally not rooted in reality, reason, or science. Something we usually take for granted with educators, right?
Cap't Court... I understand about your child being behind. And, unfortunately, we've suffered this last year dramatically because of it. I'm the last one to believe in testing or certain academic levels needing to be met at a certain time, but my child was just not taught anything that was relevant to her age or intellectual needs last year. They only covered the alphabet up to "P" (and it was only in caps). We're paying dearly this year by intensive tutoring (that costs a fortune) to catch up.
Anyway, some of the highlights of Steiner-Waldorf weirdness for me:
1. No emergency plans in place other than making the sign of a pentagon to ward off "evil" (I kid you not)
2. No black crayons or paint
3. All corners cut off of all papers
4. Children must copy verbatim what teacher made on the board, no individuality
5. Lessons taught when a child's teeth fall out
6. Teachers gained a "deeper understanding" of the child by the week they were born in the year, according to Steiner based poems (this did not work for us! Our child was born in a country where the seasons are opposite of Euro or American seasons)
7. Literal belief in gnomes and fairies
8. Belief in the supernatural (yet claim they are not based in religion or faith based reasoning)
9. Their bizarre view on adoption.... the child "chooses" his/her parents in a dream before being born (where to begin with that?)
Most of these things were concealed, downplayed or minimized when a parent would question the staff/teachers about them, which really made me enraged. Don't get me started on the cult-like community.... Luckily, we moved out of state so we did not have to face the wrath that other families have faced for withdraw.
My dd has been out of Waldorf for about 3 years now and, to be honest, I am happy that I pulled her when I did. A lot had gone on that year and I felt like I was at a crossroads. If I let her stay, I would have been locking her into a life there as she was headed out of kindergarten and couldn't recognize even a few basic sight words and such. She was put into a local charter and worked with the world's best first grade teacher. Every parent and child should be as lucky as we were.
Anyhow, she thrived and is doing quite well in a traditional setting. And I am happy that I made the choice before depleting my bank account and my sanity as I was working with her doing Kumon at home to try to get her up to speed. Not to mention that I found my life being entangled into the Waldorf culture and was tired of some of the behaviors of the adults. I remember her kindergarten teacher expressing concern that my dd was singing a rap song at school, at which point, i reminded her that we're black and if she was not singing ludacris' "welcome to my sex room," i did not see the harm as she listens to old school hip-hop like RunDMC at home.
Needless to say, I'm happy to be free and glad to be with y'all!
I am so glad you have had this revelation about Waldorf and now can see it for what it is really is. There are so many parents who experience first-hand a Waldorf or Waldorf/inspired school not educating their children adequately, incorrectly, or at all; and at the same time indoctrinating the students with anthroposophy while the school emphatically denies that they do so. Especially when public funding is involved. Yet even when faced with the evidence right in front of them the parents just pretend it isn't happening or find some way of rationalizing it. This is what I find so scary and so cultish about Waldorf. The fact that you were a substitute teacher gives your story so much more power as you witnessed at a school day after day what was really going on. I thank you so so so much for sharing all this!
As for my family, I believe my child has finally at age 9 mastered the alphabet - thanks to me and her dad working with her at home. She still messes up lowercase d's and b's sometimes. We have not done a quick review of the alphabet in a while just to make sure though so maybe this weekend we'll have a check in with her. I am pretty sure she is finally solid on being able to sing the alphabet song now, but I will check that as well.
She is finally reading on her own after we made her read to us night after night after night and worked with her with words on flashcards. I would say her level is still a grade or two below where she should be, but the good thing is she loves reading. Which is really great but also is really sad. Waldorf stole about 4 or 5 years of reading for enjoyment from her life by not teaching her. Her spelling however is really really bad. She is 9 years old and here is a small sampling of words and how she thinks they are spelled:
From the samples of her writing I took these words from, there are some words I could not even decipher. And all the places where you saw the 's - the word was not being used as a possessive noun. Just a plural noun. So there you have a perfect example of the spelling/grammar skills of a 9 year old child waldorf "educated" from pre-school to 4th grade.
We think she is ok with time telling on both digital and analog clocks now - but we haven't tested her for a while on that either so perhaps we should. Her math skills I have left to her dad to handle as I have worked with her on all the other stuff so I can't really comment on that.
I am just amazed at how the mainstream news organizations and news magazines have not done tons of stories on Waldorf's mis-education and cult-like environment. Frontline? 60 Minutes? Time Magazine? Anybody out there? I've heard that Newsweek is relaunching in printed form again - maybe Waldorf should be their next cover story...
I agree Luper. I find it amazing that there are not any real news stories out there exposing Waldorf for what it is. I have been doing countless internet searches trying to find something other than a bloq that can provide a real critique of the schools, but I come up with nothing, In fact, the majority of what pops up is all in defense of Waldorf education and put out there by those who adhere to its quack philosophy. I feel so bothered that I kept my child in that school for two years. He is so behind.
On another note, I'm curious if the lack of communication to parents on child concerns is true to all Waldorf schools. It has become evident to me that there were clear and obvious signs of my son's delays from the get-go, his disruptive behaviors was not only a hinderance for him but other children as well. He was too much for them to handle, yet they did nothing about it. I confronted his teacher about his progress half way into the year and she finally told me that she did have concerns and that he was below-average. Why is it so hard to get information about a child's progress, behavior, and development out of the teachers? I feel like everything was covered up. My son had two years worth of behavioral issues that were practically shoved under the rug. He was even hurting his own teacher and yet this was never told to me until I squeezed it out of her! I am just so frustrated with it all because I could have gotten him help sooner, yet they just kept holding onto the fact that he would "develop in his own time." What angers me the most is I bought into it as well. I went to that school searching for a different approach as public school wasn't working. Something that would give us hope that everything would unfold. I loved many of the individual traits about Waldorf, but its philosophy on child development has so hindered my child. Now that we are finally getting him help for his neuropsychological disorders I can see that it never was that my son was mentally delayed, he was merely not.being.taught. and was furious with frustration and boredom. He was being held back and needed a challenge, structure, and competition. Something to where he could shine, but they fueled his behaviors by viewing him as "not fully into his body" and focusing on merely doing motions and movements with him as opposed to a real education.
After having read through a bit of this thread (it really is very long, so I can't quite read everything) I am wondering...are Waldorf schools so very different in America?!
I come from Germany and my experiences with Waldorf have been throughout positive. I have worked in a Waldorf Kindergarten and school for children with special needs and have Waldorf families in my social circle...I have never had any bad experiences. We don't have children of our own yet, but once we do there is no doubt for me, that they will not be part of the public school system and so far my decision for Waldorf was clear even before the question actually ever came up. Now I wonder. Is everything I experienced before not true for America? :(
I can't answer that accurately enrooted. I think part of it could have to do with changing from Waldorf schools to public schools in America, I have heard that Finland doesn't expect full on academic education until kids are 6 or 7. Curious if maybe Germany has a similar view? Here now kids practically have to be reading when done with kindergarten. A lot of my frustration stems from that, my son is horribly behind and transitioning now to public school is a headache.
For me I know that I was very drawn to Waldorf and still like some of its aspects. I thought I was doing the best thing for my child with the approach. However, the individual traits that drew me into the program, and that kept us there for three of his school years, was not enough to prove to me that it is all worth it in the end.
My son went undiagnosed for ADHD and we have lost nearly two years of getting him treatment on that. The teachers, due to their philosophy, would have let him continue on without thoroughly looking at these as major developmental issues hindering him. While I agree that many cases of ADHD can be over diagnosed, there are many cases where it is necessary to seek medication and behavioral therapy for treatment. However, when you are going to a school that has such a flimsy basis as to what is normal in child development, doesn't even see ADHD as real and worthy of medication, and doesn't have measurable academics, nor doesn't fully express to parents the extent of everything that goes on in a school day...well, your child is not being helped in any way at all. We paid a pretty penny for that school and have nothing to show for it. My son is six years old and just today had to be tutored on what the letter "A" is. No joke.
These kids are being sent to school for indoctrination. To live in a fantasy world that doesn't exist and never will. Unless of course, you agree with the dogma. Personally, I would highly recommend you research Steiner's religion before sending your kid to that school, because that will be their foundation for education.
Hm, that's interesting! I actually know a lot about the philosophy - I completed a Waldorf Kindergarten teacher seminar in Germany. And I assure you I am not one of those brain washed people (of whom I met plenty). When they told me about their view of Karma and how it affects our relationship with children I asked them "So you think every starving, raped, murdered child in the world was bad in their previous life and deserves their tortures?" They didn't have an answer for me. I was SO mad at that approach. But for Kindergarten there is a lot of good I can take from their teachings and I simply do not live and teach the things I don't agree with. That's why I have started my own Waldorf inspired daycare - I prefer being able to pick and choose and only do what's really best for the kids and not best for the system.
I think Waldorf Kindergarten (ages 3-6) is very different from Waldorf school. I don't think I'd have a problem sending my kids to a Waldorf kindergarten here. But I wouldn't want to be a Waldorf school teacher, as the cult-like philosophy there doesn't sit very well with me. At least in Germany that depends on which school you go to and honestly I have a feeling the cult component might be a LOT more dominant in America :(
Kind of scary to hear these things about Waldorf in America in general. It's a bit like my world is being turned upside down - I thought I had finally found a school system for our children and now I have to worry again. I don't have a problem with a child not reading, writing or doing math at age 6 - that's when school just starts in many European countries and just because America pushes for kids to learn earlier, doesn't mean I have to agree with that (which I don't, but that's another topic!)...however if a child is behind after Waldorf that could end up being a very big problem :( I didn't think of taking my child out of Waldorf and switching to public school - but if Waldorf is THAT indoctrinated over here, that might have to happen and THEN we are royally screwed it seems D:
Maybe when the time comes I will switch from doing Waldorf inspired daycare to Waldorf INSPIRED school, start my own without all the crazy stuff, keep only the good and send my child there! -laughs- It's pretty sad how little GOOD alternatives there are to public school here. I certainly don't think I can home school...but what else is there!? The only other thing I know is Montessori...but then I'd miss all the dreamy Waldorf beauty, which I'd really love to be a part of our children's childhood. Minus the wonky bits :(
Hm...now I'm sad and confused.
As some of you already know, I'm in the UK, but since reading this enormous thread's few pages, have come to question my original desire to have Juniper educated at a Waldorf school. She, like my sisters, is being educated at home though of course on a far lower level, and fun things that keep her interest avid. I am therefore continuing her education in this laid back, easy going way and wish to thank all of you who have participated in this very informative discussion. Most enlightening!
Sad and confused as well enrooted. :(
I really really liked many of the individual traits Waldorf has, I love their approach to preschool and kindergarten. Though, really I think they could have done a tad more in kindergarten for first grade prep. Seriously don't know why they couldn't incorporate more abstract ways of at least learning letters. I digress.
I really wish I didn't have to feel to pressured to get my kid ready for public school right now. I'm all about not pushing academics until 6 or 7 either, but it's just not realistic in America if you plan on ever doing public school. Right now I'm just not sure how I would make homeschooling work if I could even fathom the thought, and paying for another private school is out of the question. Sigh.
Hope you find a good option!
I am wondering if maybe a half-day at Kindergarten and a half-day home school curriculum might be enough to get Waldorf Kindergarteners ready for public school. Honestly, early reading and math are not hard to learn and most kids pick them up on the fly, if only given the opportunity. I sure know the kids I worked with back in my time as Waldorf Kindergarten teacher in Germany made it hard not to teach them anything! They picked up letters and words just from us telling them stories and singing the daily songs etc. I am sure getting ready for first grade wouldn't be an issue.
It's sending my child to public school that's an issue for me! I don't want to get them ready for 1st grade, because I don't want them to attend 1st grade public school. Ugh! If anyone has new ideas, please share them. I am trying to catch up on the American education system, but really...I haven't gotten very far.
as for places to go for support online, below is a list of resources that have helped me.
it is a long list. i just checked the links and they work. if they don't work after posting them, please let me know and i will try again. i hope it helps.
a worldwide network of former waldorf parents, teachers and students
FAQ's from the above site
definitions and explanations of common terms
a long and amazing account from a former waldorf student who became a waldorf teacher. he is french, and he exposes the truth from the inside. he just won a huge case against the french anthroposophical society
advice for parents
a yahoo group for critics of waldorf education
if you want to talk with someone who understands what it is like to have been a victim of GROUP THINK
This is an excerpt from Steiner's book, (FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, Anthroposophical Press, 1998, pp. 649-650.) It is required reading for Waldorf teachers in their training.
Dr. Steiner: "That little girl L. in the first grade must have something very wrong inside. There is not much we can do. Such cases are increasing in which children are born with a human form, but are not really human beings in relation to their highest I [the highest element of one's spiritual being]; instead, they are filled with beings that do not belong to the human class. Quite a number of people have been born since the [1890s] without an I, that is, they are not reincarnated, but are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon. There are quite a large number of older people going around who are actually not human beings, but only natural; they are human beings only in regard to their form. We cannot, however, create a school for demons."
A teacher: "How is that possible?"
Dr. Steiner: "Cosmic error is certainly not impossible. The relationships of individuals coming into earthly existence have long been determined. There are also generations in which individuals have no desire to come into earthly existence and be connected with physicality, or immediately leave at the very beginning. In such cases, other beings that are not quite suited step in.... They are also quite different from human beings in regard to everything spiritual. They can, for example, never remember such things as sentences; they have a memory only for words, not for sentences...
"I do not like to talk about such things since we have often been attacked even without them. Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings. Nevertheless, these are facts. Our culture would not be in such a decline if people felt more strongly that a number of people are going around who, because they are completely ruthless, have become something that is not human, but instead are demons in human form…
"Nevertheless, we do not want to shout that to the world. Our opposition is already large enough. Such things are really shocking to people. I caused enough shock when I needed to say that a very famous university professor, after a very short time between death and rebirth, was reincarnated as a black scientist. We do not want to shout such things out into the world."
(Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, Anthroposophical Press, 1998, pp. 649-650.)
This is the resignation letter from a new teacher who taught in a Waldorf school, but who had not been through the Waldorf teacher training--something that is sometimes done when a school is desperate for teachers. It was sent to the site, "Waldorf-Critics.”
This letter went public when it was sent to the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, and is posted with the permission of the author. -Dan
To The Parents of Desert Sky Community School and the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools:
My name is Rachael Colley and I recently resigned from Desert Sky Community School. I am writing to inform you of the reason for my untimely departure.
I resigned from my position as grade 3/4 teacher because I was unaware that I had been employed by what is, in my opinion, a religious cult, and cannot in good conscience continue, despite my love of the children and my sincere desire to give them the best education.
I love that Waldorf education has a rhythm, that there is a large block in the morning for children to really get into the lesson and that true unstructured play is encouraged.
However, I cannot work in a place where lighting candles at a staff meeting and chanting a child’s name (without the parents’ knowledge), as well as reading from the "Calendar of the Soul" is done and is seen as normal, and even called a "child study."
I cannot work in a place where the children are told to walk on the outside of the circle because the director is afraid they will "break the chalice." Or where children say verses (prayers) to "spirit."
I am a spiritual person, but it should not be required of children in a publicly funded school.
When this was brought up to my superiors, I was told that they "cannot imagine how I think religion is there.” Yet I was told that the chicken coop must be built in a certain way because it, "brings the children’s’ souls to the earth.”
If you have not already looked up Anthroposophy, please do. It underpins everything that is said and done at Desert Sky.
Understand that you will be lied to, and some people at Desert Sky believe that they know more about your child and what is best for him/her than you do. Many (parents) are referred to in negative terms behind their backs, and your children are saying prayers with words that they do not know the meaning of.
There are good people at Desert Sky, people who love your children and also want the best for them.
However, someone needed to stand up and be the voice of what really happens and what is really expected. Sadly, that task seems to have fallen onto me.
To all of the families, especially those with children in grades three and four I wish you all the best.