Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor Reviews by Parents

First a safety issue:\

A Webster Township woman is suing the Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor,
alleging that a student pierced her son's right eye socket with a metal sword
during a school play rehearsal last year, leaving him with vision loss and brain

Lynn Beals-Becker is seeking an unspecified amount of money in the suit filed
Thursday in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.

The suit alleges the school entrusted a 14-year-old student with a "sharp
unguarded metal sword" to use in a fighting scene involving the plaintiff's son
even though he wasn't trained to handle it.

According to the suit, the injury occurred June 4, 2010, during a rehearsal of
the play "The Revenge of Three Sisters." The plaintiff's son was 14 at the time,
playing the town sheriff. As the other student made his way toward him, the suit
says, he attempted to "deflect the sword." However, the suit says, the "thrust
of the sword pierced into his right orbit." The boy suffered lasting injuries,
the suit says, including weakness to his left side and an inability to properly
raise his eyelid.

Sandra Greenstone, an administrator at the school, did not return a phone call
seeking comment Friday.\

Posted July 30, 2013

I love Rudolf Steiner schools. I was unfortunate to have had quite a bad experience myself during my second year as a student there, though I still hope others will benefit from this wonderful institution.
Posted June 7, 2013

I was shocked to discover that not all the teachers have a teaching degree. Can you imagine? I know people can be very intelligent without a college degree but when it comes to teaching I really expect a certain level of college education. Especially when I am being asked to pay thousands of dollars each year in tuition. I also noted a morale problem among the employees, issues with the early education department, and rumblings about the head of school's leadership and human resources abilities. Some people are certainly very qualified and the philosophy great if everyone were operating by it. I hope it can find the right leadership to bring everyone together in an organized fashion to truly live the philosophy they use to get people to sign a contract. Some of the administration do not act in a manner consistent with the marketing. They are just too divided and it can be noticed by anyone spending even a little time on the campuses. Recently they seem to have lost key employees for various reasons and the turnover is alarming. This is a sign that things at the top are not running correctly. The board should take notice and the teachers should take back some control.
Posted October 14, 2011
I believe in Rudolf Steiner's ideas about childhood and education, but this
school has a "one size fits all" approach to learning -- all children are
expected to conform to it and the Waldorf pedagogy is the only one relied upon
to address issues. Our child was there for two years and we found the atmosphere
to be strict, extremely rule-oriented, and much too teacher-centered, leaving
the children little or no freedom for self-discovery, self-discipline, and
creative expression. There are some happy, confident, experienced teachers at
the school, and you are fortunate if your child has one of them for 8 years. In
our experience, Waldorf philosophy did not translate into joyful learning and
positive child development.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 9, 2011
My children attended this school for several years and there were many things we
loved about it. Waldorf education can be a wonderful thing, and was in the
school that my children attended in another state before moving here. What
eventually drove us away, however, was the school's inability to resolve
conflict and deal with issues as they arise. In two of the three we were a part
of, there were numerous families that had relatively small problems arise
(learning disabilities, minor conflicts with teachers or other students, etc).
We watched all of these families, some of them close friends, as they tried to
navigate through these issues using the "process" set down by the school which
includes various levels of administration, teachers, board, etc. Most of these
issues were never resolved, and many of the families pulled their children out
of the school. The ones that stayed were so resentful that it created a constant
atmosphere of tension and conflict in the two classes. Eventually, we felt our
children were being negatively affected by all of the conflict, friends leaving
and overall instability of the school so we decided to find another school.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted August 2, 2011
My child spent one year recently at the Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor. In
my opinion, the worst part was the oppressively strict environment. For example,
children were not allowed to talk to friends in class or leave their seats
without the teacher's permission, and were sent to stand in the hall as
punishment. After spending one day observing in my child's class, I felt like I
was suffocating. The school offers one rigid approach to teaching. If it doesn't
happen to fit a child's learning style, the teachers astonishingly label the
child as having learning and/or behavior problems, and blame is placed on the
child and/or the parents. There is much good about Waldorf education, but this
school seems to be unaware of 21st century research on brain development, and
how to incorporate innovative, diverse and effective teaching methods into the
Waldorf philosophy. If you visit the school, I urge you to look beyond an
idealistic vision of what a Waldorf school could be, and see if the children in
the classrooms appear to be lively, active learners, or quiet, obedient
students. There is an important difference between the two that I think RSSAA
does not fully recognize. —Submitted by a parent

Posted June 7, 2011
We sent our first grader here after a difficult experience in the public
schools. We were given promises that they would individualize his need for
advanced math and his difficulties with reading. Instead when he did not respond
well to "one size fits all" teaching, they labeled him a behavior problem and
told us how we were failing him as parents. We were given advice on everything
from sleep to diet to clothing to our visitation schedule (we are divorced).
They told us often our child had a "dark side". When he was diagnosed as
dyslexic and gifted, we brought in educational experts to help the teacher meet
his needs. She was hostile and completely uninterested in adopting any plan we
might suggest. She told us we should "trust" her plan and then simply began
sending him home everyday when he became too frustrated to function. Our child
came home with bruises and scratches, and we were told it was healthy "rough
play". However when a classmate complained our child was "too rough" he was
labeled "aggressive". I would not recommend anyone with a child "outside the
norm" choose Steiner. They are completely unprepared to handle it, and are
likely to pathologize the child. —Submitted by a parent

Posted February 26, 2011
Rudolf Steiner High School is a failing experiment in an alternative liberal
education enterprise. Teachers are over educated, overpaid and more concerned
with protecting their egos, reputations, and salaries than instructing students.
Another website lists enrollment at only 54 students. Less than four years ago,
there were well over 100. By Waldorf philosophy, teachers dominate the
organization. Teachers can and have overridden repeated parental concerns and
proactive administrative policies. As a direct result, administrative staff has
had an excessive turnover rate to the detriment of students and parents.
the two misspellings in one sentence of the parental posting of November 1,
2007. While some Steiner students and their parents are not yet proficient in
reading, writing, mathematics and the hard sciences; they excel in music, arts
and dance. And their self esteem is off the charts. If you don't want to believe
this opinion regarding their collective self worth; I suggest you simply
consider asking the students, their supportive liberal parents and most of the
Rudolf Steiner teachers. —Submitted by a parent


  1. I cannot comment on the Waldorf School in Ann Arbor but I can say that all Waldorf Schools are not a like. We have a wonderful school that goes to Grade 6. I see the result of the school in the kids, the graduates and what they do in middle school, high school and beyond. Our school takes Rudolf's words of wisdom "Take what I have taught and add to it when new discoveries occur". Therefore our school is at the front of learning academics, discipline methods, arts etc. I have heard of super strict schools. They are not Rudolf Steiner. He created schools as a reaction to the strict schools in the early 20th century. Sorry that this school is one of those "strict" schools that I have heard about.

  2. "Our school takes Rudolf's words of wisdom "Take what I have taught and add to it when new discoveries occur". Therefore our school is at the front of learning academics, discipline methods, arts etc. "

    Yes, I often hear about these nameless Waldorf schools that are so wonderful. If only they had a name... parents could rush to them.

    Kinda makes me wonder, if they are REALLY so great, why don't people say which school it is - so parents can check for themselves. Instead, anonymous people show up and make claims about an anonymous fantasy school out there that is perfect... it's probably the same magical school that has 94% of graduates accepted into college.

  3. I'd like some info on parent-teacher conflict.. made difficult by other parent teacher friendships and hence there seems to be no confidentiality; newcomers are bullied by the established group.. a group that runs the school. When bullying is so subtle and invisible to all others and cannot be alt with as the governance teams etc are run by the bullies.. what do you do?

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  5. My experience was consistent with all the postings I see here, except the one that says their Waldorf School was not like the others. I seriously doubt it. There is a consistent pattern among waldorf parent criticisms that strongly suggests the philosophy of steiner schools is the underlying problem. we were at the whidbey island waldorf school for 7 years, and found that although some teachers were arguably well meaning and a few students/parents are happy, the overall quality of education and morale at the school is poor. Many parents left (including us) while we were there very unsatisfied with teacher quality and lack of administrative oversight or organization. Although the promise of a progressive education is aluring, waldorf schools are not the answer. Dogma, in all its forms, including Steiner's, is never a good organizing idea when educating children. As we found out, the teachers don't see the child, but rather really see the dogma. Precisely what parents do not want, unless of course, they have been asimilated! If you are considering a Waldorf school, make sure you do some research, ask lots of questions of the teachers, and for goodness sake, don't be fooled by the pretty artwork on the walls!

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    1. A friend of mine was distressed to stumble upon this comment on my post from 4 years ago (pasted from a different website) and alerted me to its presence. This response is a perfect example of our experience at the Rudolph Steiner School in Ann Arbor. In one breath, the respondent shames and criticizes; 1) a 7-year old boy, 2) his parents and 3) his new school. Although the response is riddled with inaccuracies, s/he decided to include additional identifying information so that many in our relatively small community could identify my child. For that reason, I am requesting that the blogger, PeteK, take the response down. My son is still a child in this community, and deserves to be treated with sensitivity and respect – not condemned online by an adult who barely knew him for behavioral issues he had at 7 years old. He struggled immensely in his early childhood due to his learning difficulties and being in learning environments that did not meet his needs. Being blamed for not being able to engage in learning like other children further exacerbated his frustration. He has blossomed into a confident, kind, well-rounded child, due in large part to the loving and thoughtful attention of the teachers and staff at his new school, and despite those at RSSAA who treated him as if he was deeply flawed or believed we as parents had failed him because of his difficulties.

    2. Done... and my apologies to you and to your son. I'm happy he's doing well.

    3. Thank you so much for your quick and kind response. I appreciate your work to provide more information and education to the public about these schools.




You may ask, "where are all the 5=Star reviews?" Well, the problem with those reviews is that many tend not to be too honest. I have included 4-star reviews that appear honest. Often, gushing reviews are placed by teachers and administrators - as some comments here indicate. "This school educates the whole child!!!" - 5 stars - by Anonymous... I say baloney! Notice, many of the reviewers have been misled by Waldorf and are still buying the PR, even after having been disappointed. Feel free to comment but understand the intent of this blog. Comments are no longer moderated.