Waldorf schools are increasingly aware of the criticism leveled at them,
and they are making efforts to use clever public relations (PR) to offset this criticism.
Here are excerpts from a pair of seminars held recently by Waldorf supporters to discuss such issues.
To see the entire transcript, go to http://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/
The morning session started with an introduction from Sylvie Sklan [representative for the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship] as to why the Steiner Schools Fellowship is in talks with the Conservative party with regard to state funding. It was explained that because of the “likely” change of government in the next election, it was important for the Fellowship to lobby.... 
[Some Waldorf] schools were wary of state funding because of the concerns of teachers that such funding would allow the government to intervene and interfere with the running of the schools.
....[Some participants] felt that the schools had to be accountable for ensuring that children were meeting basic standards of reading, writing and numeracy at all levels. This, it was acknowledged, may cause some conflict with the Steiner method of teaching. 
....Sam Freedman [education adviser to the Conservative party] was asked by a trustee, at the very end of the morning session, whether or not he could foresee any other particular problems with Steiner schools becoming state funded.
He responded, verbatim, as follows:
“Not in terms of the way we want to legislate, but, I mean I’m sure this is something that you all know about anyway, there’s a big PR issue, and if a lot of Steiner schools open quite quickly in the state sector, I mean I’ve been, erm, I’ve had all sorts of people writing to me just because they found out that I was coming to this meeting. Attacking. Attacking the Steiner Schools… Anonymously. Through social networking. People find out who you are, find out your account number and bombard you with articles, negative articles… This was pointing out all the things they think are wrong with Steiner movement, link after link after link. And that’s just from me coming to this meeting, so you have to be aware, well I know you’ll all be aware anyway, but this will be on a much, much bigger scale.” 
The discussion went on to identify two problem PR areas: 1) Accounts from parents who are or have been unhappy with the Steiner schooling system and those that have had negative experiences associated with the schools, and 2) the writings of Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy.
It was identified that the latter issue was going to be a greater problem.
Sam Freedman stated that it was important for the Schools to “explain to people quite strongly that they are not teaching what he [Rudolf Steiner] said”. He likened the situation to the fact that not all Christians believe every word of the Bible. 
One of the trustees noted that the very name “Steiner”, is potentially limiting. He noted that in other countries schools have called themselves “Waldorf” schools so as to distance themselves from the Steiner writings. 
...The importance of getting a more diverse intake of children was noted, given the likely effects of the negative PR currently circulating on the internet, coupled with images of classes filled with only white, middle-class children. It was acknowledged that such an image would be very damaging to the movement. 
An observer asked Sam Freedman whether or not a Conservative government would consider intervening with Steiner teacher training to ensure that the racist aspects of Steiner’s writings would not be included. Sam Freedman replied by stating that if the issue becomes a big PR problem for Steiner schools, and the state is funding those schools, it will become a big PR problem for the state. He went on to say that in light of this, Steiner schools should seek to nip any potential problems with their teacher training in the bud, because if ministers feel under pressure from negative PR, this is likely to be problematic for the schools. Sam Freedman stated that the Schools should ensure that they can explain their position very clearly, so that they can counter the negative criticisms immediately. 
...It was acknowledged that the Steiner schools Fellowship would need to initiate and fund a proper campaign to counter the “poison” on the internet. A representative from one Steiner school felt that the politicians were very aware of the problem and that they would “run a mile in the opposite direction if they have a lot of people coming at them saying you’re funding a weird cult that brainwashes children.” 
It was suggested that an “antidote” website be set up to explain the criticisms that are leveled against the Steiner schools. It was also suggested the Steiner schools Fellowship take up the offer of free media training offered by the New Schools Network, although it was acknowledged that the Fellowship would require more than this, indeed they would need full-time “professional help”. A PR officer would be required to place positive stories in the media, and also to counter the stream of negative ones. It was considered important to get a PR strategy sorted out soon, especially if a large number of Steiner schools opt-in for state funding at an early stage. It was felt that the Steiner schools Fellowship should start cultivating good media relations as soon as possible. 
It was felt that a central plank of the PR strategy should be to bring media into the schools to show exactly what goes on there, and that another thing to consider would be a re-branding exercise. It is the association with Steiner’s writings that is perceived to be the main problem. 
...Re-branding was considered in more detail. This would be a way of isolating the educational philosophy of Steiner without being associated with the controversial aspects of Anthroposophy. In any event, the importance of making it clear that the schools did not teach the racist aspects of Anthroposophy was stressed. 
...It was felt that there may be some difficulty in making a blanket rebuttal of all Anthroposophy because many people throughout the Steiner schools system, especially teachers, strongly support many aspects of that belief system. If teachers were asked to make a blanket rebuttal of Anthroposophy, many of them may not do this. There was some concern that the PR campaign attempting to rebut the racial aspects of anthroposophy could back fire because it would bring the subject to the attention of people who were not aware of the problem.  Any PR campaign of this nature may necessarily have to be a reaction to, but not a preemption of, negative press arising from Anthroposophy.
HANDLING PUBLIC RELATIONS - A Guide for Waldorf Schools and Other Organizations
(Sunbridge College Press, 1984).
Note the lemniscate — a figure eight — on the cover.
Anthroposophists use lemniscates to represent the interchange of forces
between polar pairs: positive and negative, high and low,
the spiritual and the secular, the celestial and the terrestrial,
the school and the community...
Historically, Waldorf faculties have hesitated to engage in public relations, seeing PR as a descent into the corruption that infests the world beyond Waldorf's walls. A book issued by a Waldorf teacher-training institution helped change this, slightly. HANDLING PUBLIC RELATIONS - A Guide for Waldorf Schools and Other Organizations argues reassuringly that PR efforts do not necessarily damage the soul. And besides, the book says, we need money, and PR will help us get it.
"[T]he process of relating to the public has a spiritual side to it ... While many [Waldorf] schools are experiencing unparalleled growth, others suffer increasing overhead costs with the same number of students or even a decrease in enrollment. Tuition income is never sufficient to cover full operating and scholarship expenses ... Fundraising activity has become a strenuous way of life for many Waldorf schools ... [I]t may happen that a school slowly begins to isolate itself from the local community. It may see itself, and rightly so, as a cultural haven in a disturbingly hostile world ... [S]ome institutions may not be able to maintain this posture for long unless there is a well-established, built-in community support system ... The connections between the 'inner' and 'outer' work [of a school] are like the ever-changing surfaces of a lemniscate: a mutually supportive modulation between inner and outer with each surface complementing the other." — Werner Glas and Cornelius Pietzner, HANDLING PUBLIC RELATIONS - A Guide for Waldorf Schools and Other Organizations (Sunbridge College Press, 1984), pp. 3-6.
Today the Waldorf movement is served by aggressive PR and money-raising efforts involving print, audio, video, and live presentations that are often quite alluring, especially to audiences unacquainted with the real agenda of the schools.
I post the following with thanks to Alicia Hamberg.
(I originally posted it one the Waldorf Watch "news" page.)
"From the Steiner Waldorf School Fellowship’s financial report:
"The sum recieved from the Anthroposophical Society is not huge — £3000 for PR and the £5000 for free school applications. But one might still ask: why does the Anthroposophical Society pay for waldorf school PR and the free school applications (to obtain state-funding for the schools)? Why do anthroposophists have any interest in helping schools and organizations which [claim they] want to distance themselves from Steiner and anthroposophy (there are many more examples of such behaviour)…were it not for the fact that the distancing itself is a PR move?
"I think these donations prove — unsurprisingly — that anthroposophy and the Anthroposophical Society have an interest in Steiner education and its success (or the appearance of success) and also in obtaining state-funding for these schools." [The Etheral Kiosk, 2-10-2012 http://zooey.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/money-pr-the-free-school-applications-and-the-swsf/#comment-14384]
 Whether governments should provide funding for Waldorf Schools is an issue in many countries. The danger is that education authorities can be hoodwinked by “lobbying” efforts on behalf of Waldorf schools, so that the authorities are unaware of the occultism in Waldorf education.
The Conservatives did win the election, although not by as great a majority as they had hoped.
 Waldorf schools generally delay the start of such academic studies as reading, writing, and arithmetic until considerably later than ordinary schools begin such studies. The reason is occult: Waldorf teachers believe that young children commune with the spirit realm, and earthly studies would break this connection. [See "Thinking Cap".] Waldorf advocates claim that Waldorf students eventually catch up with students in ordinary schools, which may or may not be true. To look into the issue of academic standards at Waldorf schools, see “Academic Standards”.
 The idea that Waldorf schools face a public relations (PR) issue misses the real problem with the schools. Waldorf schools are not merely believed to be occultist, they are occultist, and no amount of PR manipulation can change this. A clever PR campaign could, however, disguise the true nature of Waldorf education even more than is now the case.
 Freedman seems to think that all would be well if Waldorf schools simply explained themselves more clearly to the public. But Waldorf schools cannot do this — Waldorf teachers believe they possess occult secrets that cannot be divulged to the uninitiated. Lying to the public is thus basic to the Waldorf mission. See “Secrets”.
Of course, not all Waldorf teachers fully understand the occult purposes of Waldorf pedagogy, and not all Waldorf schools are thoroughly immersed in occultism. [See “Non-Waldorf Waldorfs”.] But senior teachers at Waldorf schools are usually deeply committed to Anthroposophy, and newly trained Waldorf teachers are often similarly devout. Waldorf teacher-training programs are strongly geared toward the occult. See “Teacher Training”.
 This is an interesting suggestion. Remember that the seminars were held at least in part under the auspices of the The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship. For Steiner schools to disavow Steiner would be rather difficult.
 Waldorf schools do tend to appeal primarily to well-off whites. Steiner’s teachings contain a clear racist component, honoring whites above all other human races. See, e.g., “Steiner’s Racism”.
 As noted above, openness is almost impossible for Waldorf schools. Disavowing Steiner’s racism is also very difficult for the schools. Anthroposophists look on Steiner as a nearly infallible spiritual guide. [See "Guru".] Steiner claimed to use “exact clairvoyance,” so that all of his doctrines are presumably unquestionable. If Anthroposophists disavow any part of Steiner’s teachings, they open the door to the possibility that Steiner was wrong about many things, not just one — and this is almost unthinkable for them.
 You are currently reading material on a “poisonous” website: Waldorf Watch. I can’t speak for all sites that contain criticisms of Waldorf education, but here at Waldorf Watch the “poison” referred to is nothing but the truth. Waldorf schools actually are part of “a weird cult that brainwashes children.” (The only exception would be Waldorf schools that are not really Waldorf schools: that is, schools that use the Waldorf name but do not abide by Steiner’s directives. Such schools are rare. See “Non-Waldorf Waldorfs”.)
 Some “antidote” websites exist already. Se, e.g., Why Waldorf Works. But, again, painting the problem with Waldorf schools as merely a PR issue misrepresents the schools and their occultism.
 The association of the schools with Steiner’s writings is fundamental to the schools. Eliminating it would be impossible without changing the schools utterly. No amount of “re-branding” can alter this.
 Separating Steiner’s educational approach from his occult doctrines is almost impossible. The underlying purpose of Waldorf schooling is to spread Anthroposophy. “One of the most important facts about the background of the Waldorf school is that we were in a position to make the anthroposophical movement a relatively large one. The anthroposophical movement has become a large one.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 156.
As to whether Waldorf schools endorse Steiner’s racism: At least some have done so, and at least some still seem to do so.
 Of course. And this is the point people like Freedman seem to miss. Here’s what Steiner said about this matter: “As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118. Many if not all Waldorf teachers today still accept this concept. They work in Waldorf schools precisely because they embrace Steiner’s occultism.
 This reflects a fundamental attitude of many if not all Waldorf teachers: Hide information. Do not raise uncomfortable topics. Keep the schools’ secrets. This is in keeping with Steiner’s directives: “We should be quiet about how we handle things in the school, that is, we should maintain a kind of school confidentiality. We should not speak to people outside the school, except for the parents who come to us with questions, and in that case, only about their children, so that gossip has no opportunity to arise.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 10.
[Hodder & Stoughton, 2001.]
Anthroposophical publications intended for general audiences can be extremely circumspect: They may seek to couch all their arguments in reasonable-seeming language. But the belief system embraced by the authors is often easily discerned if readers have done some preliminary research. Consider, for example, the chapter in this book titled "The Twelve Senses". Contrary to scientific findings, Steiner taught that we have a dozen senses, and this book parrots that idea. All parents probably want to "free their child's potential," so large numbers might be tempted to buy a book such as this. But let the buyer beware.
— Roger Rawlings