Financing Waldorf Schools

 

From: Frank Thomas Smith
Date: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:26 pm
Subject: Financing Waldorf Schools - 1 of 2

Dear Christine,

I finally read your paper on funding a Waldorf School, thanks to Jo Ann, who dug it out of the archives for me. You ideas are most interesting and I would therefore like to comment on them in relation to our previous exchange re Waldorf methods in public schools. Your paper relates only to the funding of Waldorf schools and I consider them totally relevant in that context. I especially like the idea of "tithing" relatives and friends. In fact, we tried something similar here a few years back, but with a less descriptive explanation. It worked to a limited extent, but for some reason, lack of organization probably, it wasn't followed up. Maybe I'll push for it again, with more elaboration this time. I am less sanguine about obtaining money from business - because I've tried it and have found that unless people with power within a business organization have some tie to Waldorf education or anthroposophy, the chances of getting money from them are next to nil. The Ford Foundation Director in Argentina once told me that their school donation budget is directed to poor public schools - and there are many very poor dismally under funded ones here. Waldorf schools, on the other hand, are for the middle to upper middle classes, as well as the "alternative" lunatic fringe. Though they may be temporarily impoverished, they should be able to finance the schools themselves or get off the pot (more polite words to that effect).

Where WE however, is directed to the poor, substantial help is forthcoming. An example is the work in the favelas of Brazil initiated by Ute Craemer. I was able to organize funding for her from Switzerland when she was starting out. Now the work is huge and funding still comes from individuals, but also from companies, foundations and city and state entities. But the beneficiaries are really poor and couldn't possibly finance any part of the activities themselves. This type of altruistic social educative work attracts interest and assistance. Average Waldorf schools do not, for the reason stated above.

Frank Thomas Smith
http://SouthernCrossReview.org

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From: Frank Thomas Smith
Date: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:28 pm
Subject: Financing Waldorf Schools - 2 of 2

It should also be borne in mind that economic activity has changed drastically since Steiner's time. We are in an age when an organization I never heard of is about to buy out Disney - against the latter's will - for 60 billion dollars. If the Waldorf factory still existed today, it would be part of Phillip Morris. Economic activity has become more and more anonymous and can therefore only consider the bottom line - profit. The concept of the threefold society, however, is not limited to Waldorf schools. It says that all educational institutions should be free from political state influence. As I think you mention, all school funding originates in the economic sphere. However, the tax money paid by individuals and enterprises makes a detour through the state and arrives at the schools with strings attached, i.e, state control. The alternative to this would be if these taxes ("forced" donations) passed directly to the schools, possibly through regional educational NGOs. Or, if the money must go through the state, law should insure that a certain percentage according to need - determined by the schools themselves or the NGO - goes to the schools with no strings. This of course means all schools, including public. The school voucher system also seems to be a good idea, though I don't know about the difficulties it may be experiencing in practice. In either case, all kinds of schools and methods could survive and parents could choose without fear of bankruptcy. If Waldorf Education is superior, then more will choose it and it will flourish.

Frank

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From: golden3000997
Date: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:47 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Financing Waldorf Schools - 1 of 2

In a message dated 2/12/2004 9:34:05 PM Eastern Standard Time, franksmith writes:

I am less sanguine about obtaining money from business - because I've tried it and have found that unless people with power within a business organization have some tie to Waldorf education or anthroposophy, the chances of getting money from them are next to nil.

Hi Frank,

Thank you for taking the time to read my little thesis. I would like to point out in relation to what you said above, that my ideas do not involve (at least not primarily) the seeking of funding FROM businesses. My ideas involve CREATING businesses! That is an entirely different emphasis.

I would like to say for those reading this particular exchange that reading all of the article is essential because it has several different aspects which are necessary to weave together to make the whole work.

If you like the ideas, Frank, I would lovingly suggest that you live with them a while before "taking them out on the road." They are very, very radical and would probably not work unless a really firm foundation were laid first within the community itself. It would have to be a very concious step in a very definite social direction. The intention would be to get out of the "rich school/ poor school" rut and into the creation of a viable financial reality for the entire community.

Thanks again!

: ) Christine

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From: golden3000997
Date: Thu Feb 12, 2004 7:02 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Financing Waldorf Schools - 2 of 2

In a message dated 2/12/2004 9:39:06 PM Eastern Standard Time, franksmith writes:

As I think you mention, all school funding originates in the economic sphere. However, the tax money paid by individuals and enterprises makes a detour through the state and arrives at the schools with strings attached, i.e, state control. The alternative to this would be if these taxes ("forced" donations) passed directly to the schools, possibly through regional educational NGOs.

Hello again!

As I am sure you are well aware, Frank, I have lately come under intense scrutiny by the Waldorf Critics and I am sure that they are going to read every word by me and in reference to me very carefully. So, I really need to clarify here that no where in MY article do I talk about using any tax money to fund Waldorf schools anywhere in the world. Tax money is no part of my thesis.

I understand that you are speaking of tax money and vouchers as thoughts of your own in response to ideas I have brought up, but the way the two first sentences above are abutted together really indicates that somewhere I speak of tax money from "individuals and enterprises" as part of my thesis on Waldorf funding. I don't.

I am also not talking about "mega business" but a range of small and medium size local businesses like a corner laundromat or local coffee shop or hardware store. If the community has the knowledge, expertise and capital resources within it to create larger businesses, or if there are larger businesses owned or co-owned by people who are members of the community (not donors - members) of the social community that comprises the school itself, that would be great. But I am not speaking about "begging" from an outside source. In fact, I would prefer to reject accepting donations at all unless they were "matching fund" donations - in other words, that the community had to raise an equal amount of money before the donation could be accepted at all. Yes, I am talking about turning down money! And I elaborate on my reasons (as best I can in a short article.)

I'm not saying that my ideas are altogether perfect, but I do think they are 1. workable and 2. more in keeping with both the funding of the first Waldorf School and some basic concepts of the Threefold Social order than the methods being used today.

Disney thing is weird, though, huh? Who ARE these mega buck people?

: ) Christine

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From: golden3000997
Date: Thu Feb 12, 2004 8:21 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Financing Waldorf Schools - 2 of 2

Hi again Frank!

I just "refreshed" myself on my own article and I don't think I really explained the corporate thing very well, so I will have to work on that some more. You can definitely get from what I wrote the sense of approaching "outside" corporations. And there is nothing really wrong with that. But it will most likely run into the kinds of roadblocks you have already mentioned, unless someone fairly high up on the "totem pole" has some connection to the Waldorf (or potential Waldorf) community per se. I will work on this part more. I put much more work into the Radical Tuition part, obviously. Also, this is pretty much an outline and the whole thing needs to be dug into more.

But - I will confirm that NOWHERE am I talking about tax or government money!!! This is really important!!!

Business-wise, I think much more could be worked on about creating local businesses. I am sure that there are lots and lots of resources out there and lots of potential advisors. Why not start businesses with the express intention of using some of the profits to fund community projects like schools? And I am NOT talking about siphoning off the lion's share - just a committment to a 2.5%, 5% or 10% of the actual profits. So, if the profits of the laundromat are $100.00 in a given month and the pledge is 5%, then the business owners send in $5.00. If there are no profits, the business doesn't send in anything, but they are not "breaking" any promises. But on the brighter side, let's say that there are 10 businesses - a laundromat, a grocery store, a cafe, a book store, a hardware store, a plumbing business, an auto repair garage, a lawncare company, a printing shop (like a Kinkos) and a home construction company.

Each business owner or set of co-owners is either a member of the local community that wants to have a Waldorf school or is associated with some of the members of the community, or are people who already want to support the work of Waldorf schools in general and have chosen to work with a particular community to do so. Each business works with that part of the school community that is specifically working in the Economic Sphere of the school per se (separate, unposted article about Waldorf School Structure). Each business freely decides what level of pledge they wish to make for the coming year, calendar or fiscal, whatever works best. Each makes this decision based on 1. how closely they feel connected to the project and 2. what ever other financial committments they may have.

So let's "fantasize" a breakdown of pledges that our ten businesses have made:

Laundromat - 5%
Grocery Store - 2.5%
Cafe - 2.5%
Book Store - 10%
hardware store - 5%
plumbing business - 10%
auto repair garage - 5%
lawncare company - 2.5%
printing shop - 2.5%
home construction company - 5%

Now, let's "fantasize" what our 10 business make in Net Profits for the Fiscal Year:
( I have no idea if these numbers are "realistic" - doesn't matter - for the purposes of illustration only)

Laundromat - $6,000.00
Grocery Store - $36,000.00
Cafe - $50,000.00
Book Store - $22,000.00
hardware store - $12,000.00
plumbing business - $30,000.00
auto repair garage - $24,000.00
lawncare company - $6,000.00
printing shop - $12,000.00
home construction company - $50,000.00

Not a lot, huh? Certainly "small local businesses" Profits, remember, though, not total income.

Now, let's break it down by pledge:

Laundromat 0.05 $6,000.00 $300.00
Grocery Store 0.025 $36,000.00 $900.00
Café 0.025 $50,000.00 $1,250.00
Book Store 0.1 $22,000.00 $2,200.00
hardware store 0.05 $12,000.00 $600.00
plumbing business 0.1 $30,000.00 $3,000.00
auto repair garage 0.05 $24,000.00 $1,200.00
lawncare company 0.025 $6,000.00 $150.00
printing shop 0.025 $12,000.00 $300.00
home construction company 0.05 $50,000.00 $2,500.00

Total Pledge Income $12,400.00

OK, so it's not millions, but it could make a world of difference to a small school in a "poor" area. And the amounts of money from each company certainly would not "break their budget". It certainly wouldn't be like asking for $12,000.00 from one business.

Now, please, please tell me I am under-fantasizing and that the potential for much larger totals is there!

Also, for anyone "listening in" who hasn't read the other parts of the treatise, this is not the "sole source" of income for the school, obviously. It's just the model of the business connection.

Do-able? Even in a rural area? What do you think? I happen to think it could be really energizing. And like I said in the article, the businesses among these that are actually created by community members would then potentially be able to hire community members who need jobs!!! Cool, huh? LOTS more ideas could grow from this kind of start.

I heard once - totally apocryphal unless someone knows where it is written down - that Steiner said he wished the guy who invented the zipper had been an Anthroposophist!

: ) Christine

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From: Frank Thomas Smith
Date: Tue Feb 17, 2004 2:19 pm
Subject: RE: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Financing Waldorf Schools - 1 of 2

Dear Christine,

Hi Frank,

Thank you for taking the time to read my little thesis. I would like to point out in relation to what you said above, that my ideas do not involve (at least not primarily) the seeking of funding FROM businesses. My ideas involve CREATING businesses! That is an entirely different emphasis.

(snip)

We have 2 "creating business" initiatives going. One is honey. The school now has 20 hives. There was a fairly large (for us) initial investment and the guy (parent) takes a 300 pesos a month "salary" - about 2/3 of a teacher's. But he deserves it, because it's a lot of work, and complicated. It's been going on about a year, still at a loss, mostly because there was a drought, but it seems to have good prospects. The other, also a parent initiative, is to make wooden W-toys to sell in Buenos Aires, even export. Labor is very cheap here, so it's a good idea and with the exchange rate, the stuff is dirt cheap, especially in Europe. The guy wanted some starting capital, which he got. But then he got stuck in his own personal affairs and the thing is going nowhere. The point I'm making is that ideas are cheap, though necessary, but someone's got to carry them out - and that's the hard part.

Frank

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