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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,<br>
(i used to post as stClaire and have loved the Waldorf approach ) I have recently been questioning the practices of our local school, more specifically, the Tuition Assistance Commitee.<br>
We made the decision to send ds to a waldorf school based on who he is and the many things i am attracted to in the curriculum and style of teaching. I still love his teacher and couldn't be happier with the education he is receiving....however, we are not able to keep up with the year round high tuition payments and decided that we would proceed receiving assistance (bringing our monthly payment to around $300.a mo < which is high, but do-able with some sacrifice on our part) so, we are not expecting a free ride.<br><br>
We received the assistance that we requested for this year, but cannot apply next year unless dh makes "drastic changes in his situation" (he isn't the banker type , as well as being self employed and having his business crash in the last year...he is not a deadbeat or a lazy man, he/we choose a non-mainstream lifestyle (which seems to be typical of those attracted to Waldorf)<br>
They also said that "we are unable to financially support certian lifestyle choices" ...then went on to the "drastic changes" statement.<br><br>
I wrote asking them to define "certian ls choices" and "drastic changes" as well as to let them know that i found those statements to be personally offensive. My letter wasn't only reffering to my own case, but to the whole picture..friends of ours were denied tTA bc they have a lower income and a non-mainstream lifestyle (dh doesn't bring home alot) I also contacted the board of trustees, and sent copies of the letter. I went to great lengths to keep defensive language out of my letter and express my gratitude as well as state my problem, then go on to say that i don't want to be part of the problem, but part of a healthy movement towards the future...went on to offer to help set up an oppurtunity for a healthy dialogue to brainstorm about these important issues...bla..bla..<br><br>
The letter i rcvd in response was a dead end. It was defensive in tone, it stated the "all decisions made by the TAC are final...the SMWaldorf school is a private school not a public school ...the philosophy and the administration are seperate...." also that TA is not an entitlement, they hope to help out certian families for a year or two and expect each family to eventually make enough $$to pay the high tuition.<br><br>
This effectively weeds out many of the core families that give the school diversity and interest. I don't want any part of a school that holds this elitist kind of an attitude.<br><br>
Everywhere i've turned i hit a dead end. The board..told me that it isn't their area to take it to the TAC (whose decisions are final) and the faculty head made it clear that they cannot be involved in financial issues (which i understand, but ..don't they need to know ??it goes beyond $$ ) Oh, and they have added a "confidentiality "clause..meaning that not only are they responsible for being private, but all correspondance they hold with the families must be kept secret as well (WHAT??) and in the year end report , the TAC was described in such a glowing, happy way. It has been made clear to me (in the last letter ) that if i share this with anyone, i will be jeapordizing our assistance.<br><br>
So, has anyone had any experience with this sort of thing in their school?<br>
I'm forming a new approach , i won't let this kind of thing rest...i take it personally, i thought it was *my* school, *my* community.<br>
Ironically, i asked around at some of the true elite schools in our area and discovered that not only were they shocked at the tone of the letter , but that we could get assistance at their schools much easier than at the waldorf school<br><br>
Blessings, Kelly
 

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i did not attend waldorf schools, but i grew up in a very divided community with a strong waldorf system (pine hill and high mowing schools in wilton, NH). the values of these schools seemed very paradoxical. they promote (and require) a very simple, non invasicve, non hurried approach for children, based on creativity, spirituality, and an appreciation for all things natural. BUT, as a friend of mine whose brother attended these schools, "you have to be a shallow money grubbing yuppie to afford these places!" little conflict of interest there. they do come off as exclusive, and some of the attitudes of the community are very holier than thou. it is a turn off unfortunately, and it does put people off, interesting, diverse people who embrace the core values of the school but simply have less money. is this right?
 

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Waldorf schools have always seemed very elitest and snobby to me but it is mainly that I can't get past the prices and how much a person would have to earn to be able to afford one. Good grief just the $300 a month seems outraous to me I can't even imagine what the total tuition must be. I didn't pay that much for private college. Thier letter seemed totally offensive but maybe that tone is only an indication of that school. Like you said, even other private schools found it harsh.<br><br>
Do you have any ideas what they meant by LS choices? You can afford $300 a month. You guys obviously aren't on welfare.<br><br>
I am really sorry they said those things and are giving you such a runaround. Perhaps you should reconsider your schooling options and go completely public about this. Write letters to the paper, find out more specifically what they mean. It sound like some not so veiled form of descrimination against who knows what. Even a private school is not allowed to discriminate against certainthings.<br><br>
Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for responding <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
I have been busy compiling info about community pre-funding , which would mean that much of the tuition would be pre-paid and the families would be more involved in the community... i am not even certian how it would work, i have called a meeting of many others who have this same problem (we can't afford the $300. a month now, i thought we could, but we are already behind...electricity is more important)<br><br>
I am not showing my letter, but have paraphrased it and sent the letter out to the community...it will cause quite a stir.<br><br>
I don't expect that any major changes will occur in this particular school, though maybe in the future it will make a difference for someone else.<br><br>
I am looking into homeschooling, then i will be very public about how we (and others ) were treated.<br><br>
Blessings, Kelly
 

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The funniest thing to me about the prices that Waldorf schools charge is that this system was created for the children of factory workers. No factory worker I know could afford those schools.<br><br>
Well, there is one other funny thing. The schools claim to teach children to not be mindless unthinking drones, but the parents are often expected to be exactly that.<br><br>
All in all, I am happy I will be doing Waldorf Home Schooling : )
 

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This is exactly why we homeschool. I think part of the reason Waldorf has never worked it's way into the mainstream of America (the way Montessori has) is due to this kind of overpriced yet "natural child" paradox.<br><br>
There just aren't enough filthy rich americans out there who don't use t.v. and avoid plastic toys. Sorry, but there NEVER will be.<br><br>
The sad part is that fundamentally, waldorf schools appreciate a rich student over one who has been raised in their philosophy. Perhaps if they showed more appreciation for less fortunate families that have strived to raise children in a natural environment, they would not have such a bad reputation.<br><br>
Tuition is higher at the Waldorf school here than at many Montessori schools (probably because there are so many Mont. schools but only 1 Waldorf) ...yet on the surface, Waldorf seems to want a certain "type" of child where Montessori doesn't give that impression. The form for the Waldorf school here asked all about the child's lifestyle (amount of t.v., etc.). Yet really, what do they care? As long as we could afford it, I am sure ds would have been accepted.<br><br>
Heartmama
 

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Hi, I focused on the following part of Kelly's post...<br><br>
<<The board..told me that it isn't their area to take it to the TAC (whose decisions are final) and the faculty head made it clear that they cannot be involved in financial issues (which i understand, but ..don't they need to know ??it goes beyond $$ ) Oh, and they have added a "confidentiality "clause..meaning that not only are they responsible for being private, but all correspondance they hold with the families must be kept secret as well (WHAT??) and in the year end report , the TAC was described in such a glowing, happy way. It has been made clear to me (in the last letter ) that if i share this with anyone, i will be jeapordizing our assistance.<br><br>
So, has anyone had any experience with this sort of thing in their school? >><br><br>
Kelly, I am involved in the evaluating and awarding of assistance at a waldorf school, and your board is not correct. They are responsible for the assistance committee's work -- for example, if the committee happened to discriminate in some way, the school (and its board members) would certainly be legally liable. If they will not review the TAC, it's because either they don't want to or because they do not understand their responsibility.<br><br>
If I were you, I would apply for what you think you need, and force them to deny it. I don't agree with the tone of their "guidance" to you either, but there's no law saying that waldorf school people have to be nice or even courteous, unfortunately.
 

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My children attend the Seattle Waldorf School. We are fortunate enough to be able to pay for tuition but it is a struggle even with both of us working. About 40% of the families are on what we call TLA - Tuition Level Assistance. As I understand it, TLA is not supposed to be a permenant thing but rather a short term (2 - 3 years) help. The school struggles constantly with keeping tuition low, benefits to teachers and staff high, and wages liveable. It isn't easy especially with trying to raise capital funds for needed site improvements. One thing that has been looked at, but not implemented, is assesing all families and charging every family a percentage of their income or in other words, what they can afford. We do have some families who could afford to pay more. I have mixed feelings about this but overall I think it would help the school's diversity and the financial well being of the school.
 

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One thought I have about this thread is that the intent of the Waldorf school system is not to be snobbish and elite, but in a cultural system that values economics over human beings and spiritual principles, the school are often forced into situations of having to make decisions about how to keep the school alive. One of the stated goals I have heard about Waldorf schools is desiring to preserve the spirit of the child--a goal that cannot be accomplished if the school is closed because they can't pay their own bills.<br><br>
To assume that Waldorf is snobbish and elitist seems to be overly-simplistic without looking at what might be creating the crisis in the first place. If Waldorf schools were funded the way public education is I doubt there would be this criticism or view of Waldorf as elite. But in public education, the single greatest expense is salary for district superintendants, principles, etc. None of these things exist for individual Waldorf schools, there is no "principal" making 3 or 4 times the salary that teachers are making.<br><br>
I am not saying your family is in the wrong, and am suprised by the wording of the notice you received. Likely the wording could have been much different, and it might have had a far less alienating effect! It may be that your school is in dire financial straights, or that teachers have been making sub-standard wages for many, many years. (Starting wages for Waldorf teachers is often around $20K--and not a lot of cost of living increases.)<br><br>
We used to live in a community which has a very vibrant Waldorf school--and a great majority of the families are on tuition assistance...and teachers make appalling wages, wages that cannot possibly support a family unless spouse is raking in big bucks.<br><br>
Having said this, each school is an independent entity. Some are funded 100% on the tuition they receive from their students, so of course the need to have as few people on assistance as possible. Some schools receive additional funding from other sources--and I don't know much about this.<br><br>
Hope this is resolved positively for you and your children--you could also consider starting a Waldorf charter school. In the same aforementioned community, a group of Waldorf teachers got together and formed a public charter school--and are enjoying higher wages as a result. There are many limitations that go along with this too though...<br><br>
Cheers, Leann
 

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Currently, we do not have charter schools in Washington State. When it came up for a vote, it was voted down by the public. During the discussion on charter schools and whether or not our Waldorf school would go charter several issues came up. One, if a charter Waldorf school opened up, the school would probably lose half or more of the children enrolled and would probably collapse due to lack of funding. Second, that all mention of God would have to be removed from the curriculum including all morning verses etc. In Washington, it would probably mean removing much of the talk of saints and such. We also learned that there are Waldorf charter schools in California and Arizona. The California schools are pretty watered down due to separation of church and state issues. Arizona's charter school is much closer to a private Waldorf school except all mention of God is removed. They can still say verse but it is much more generic. Arizona being more conservative, it doesn't take separation of church and state to the extreme that CA (and probably WA) does.
 

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I just re-read your post before mine--I'm new on the boards and I was responding to a post from many many days ago!<br><br>
I hear you on the expense...if I wasn't studying to be a Waldorf teacher I wonder how we ourselves would afford tuition too. My guess is we would probably approach loving grandparents and ask them to contribute to tuition instead of expensive gifts, etc.<br><br>
Currently I am exchanging my time assisting in a Waldorf kindergarten for my daughter's pre-school tuition. We don't dare have another child!<br><br>
Personally, I really like the idea proposed by your school.<br><br>
Cheers, Leann
 

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I have heard that several Waldorf schools in CA use this method for tuition assesment. It is a little scary thinking about having to have all your financial stuff out there in the open but people applying for assistance have to do it every year. I think it also eliminates the stigma of applying for tuition level assistance because all families are on the same level.<br><br>
Wow, I knew you were in training but to go from the doubter/critic viewpoint to actually working in the school is pretty remarkable. That speaks a lot for you having an open mind. A read through a lot of the stuff on these boards and I amazed at the negative experiences people have had.<br><br>
One thing someone told me though, is that the parent body at the school is constantly changing as classes graduate and new families come in. That can change the feel of the school dramatically. One can say the same thing about the teachers because old ones do not necessarily come back for another round. My son starts 1st grade in two weeks with a repeat teacher. This will be her 2nd class. All the parents from the 1st class she took from 1st to 8th grade loved her so I am hoping for good things over the next 8 years. I am sure it will have its ups and downs like any other school or class.
 

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When Rudolf Steiner agreed to begin the first Waldorf School, it was a condition that the school be open to all children, regardless of the economic place one was born into.<br><br>
I, too, am dealing with this issue. I was a waldorf class teacher in the school that I am having difficulty with. The school offers tuition assistance to children in grades one through eight, but not kindergarten. My son has attended one year of nursery (when I was teaching) and one year of kindergarten at the school. I am now a single parent recieving minimal child support. My youngest, born last summer, has had health problems making it difficult for me to resume teaching or work a full time job. I am on some forms of public assistance and can barely keep a roof over our heads and food in our mouths let alone pay tuition. I wrote the school a letter in the spring asking for some kind of assistance that might make it possible for my son to continue attending kindergarten given my circumstances. Three months have passed and I have not heard back. School starts in a couple weeks and I am struggling with what to tell my son. I cannot bring myself to put him into public school. I would love to homeschool him, but he craves the social environment and that school time brings balance to our home time. It would also be incredibly difficult for me to bring in significant income as a single parent.<br><br>
When a school closes the door at the kindergarten level to families who cannot afford full tuition, it does so at a time that a journey should begin to unfold. There are few first grade spots left, if any, once the kindergarteners take priority the following year. It is classist practice and should not take place in a Waldorf school. These practices have an effect on the spirit and the health of the overall school. I understand that the school has to pay it's way and move forward, but there should be some room for children from various socioeconomic backgrounds. I feel that it should be accounted for in the beginnings of any Waldorf school.<br><br>
Interruption of a childs educational destiny is certainly not good Waldorf practice. I may be idealistic, but I do hope that our schools and our hearts come together in our communities and open the door for all children in the future.<br><br>
Blessings~
 

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Why don't they assist with Kindergarten? They do in Seattle. You are right, if your child is not in the Kindergarten, he/she will have a difficult time getting into 1st grade. The way they have it set up, they pretty much ensure that anyone needing assistance won't make it in the school. I would go to the school in person and start talking to whoever is in charge of enrollment. Bring your kids. Make them talk to you with the kids there. It seems to me that you have a history with the school and are in a special needs situation at the moment. They should help you over this hump. Will your youngest's medical situation allow you to go back to teaching there in a year or so? Maybe if they see that the assistance will not be long term they will be more willing to accomadate you. Also, when did you let them know you would need assistance? Tuition assistance is pretty much doled out at enrollment time where we go to school so if you have something come up in the summer, the school has a hard time helping you out. I think the national organization should put together an emergency scholarship fund for situations like yours. I hope this works out for you.<br><br>
Getting to Steiner and Waldorf, I had heard that Steiner felt that parents should pay something for school so that there is an appreciation for the schooling but that the tuition should be set such that the parents can afford it without undo hardship. I have also heard that he was not a big supporter of pubic schools. I am not sure if these statements are true as I have never actually read them but only been told them.
 

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I don't have any personal experience with a school where it was difficult to enroll in the 1st grade--this sounds like such a trial. In my region that doesn't seem to be such a difficult thing. I suppose a move is out of the question?<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"><br><br>
Going out on a limb, since you do have experience teaching...have you considered opening an in-home kindergarten and including your son? Or perhaps you could do an after-school program for the Waldorf children?<br><br>
I am also wondering if a face-to-face conversation with teachers and others at the school might be more fruitful than a letter...And as a generally choleric individual, I always cheer for doing things like sending letters to AWNSA!<br><br>
I don't know, I don't have any experience with this, and really hope it works out for you.<br><br>
Good Luck, Leann
 

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Thank you for the thought.<br><br>
I did write the letter in the spring during re-enrollment. I have talked in person with several community members, some of them my previous colleagues. The enrollment co-ordinator encouraged me to write the letter then. Many seem to agree that a lack of diversity is the schools worst flaw, yet there is little action happening to change things. Offering K assistance was in front of the board for decision making last year and I was very hopeful. It was voted against. Here in the Mpls. region, we have three schools. I am looking into transferring my son and getting help from another school in the area which offers some tuition assistance. I may, however, be too late.<br><br>
I am hopeful that we can join another community with a better balance.<br><br>
I am hoping to take on a first grade class next fall or the year after. I would consider a relocation, but that would not be an easy move for me.<br><br>
It seems that this year is going to be the most difficult to find money for.<br><br>
Again, thank you for your thoughts. Would love to hear from anyone who has more.<br><br>
~Peace
 
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