Robert Tideman's Years with the
Henry George School of Social Science
[Reprinted from the Henry George News,
May-June, 1974 (and unsigned article)]
Robert Tideman, who recently retired as executive vice president of
the Northern California Henry George School of Social Science, had
devoted twenty-four years of service to the School in the San
Francisco Bay area. Previously, following his graduation from the
University of Illinois in 1941with a degree in electrical engineering,
he had served the School for six years as a volunteer in New Jersey
and Illinois, then as education director of the Henry George School in
Chicago. It was he who recruited a Board of Directors which included
the late Joseph S. Thompson, president of Federal Pacific Electric
Company, and J. Rupert Mason, a retired investment broker.
Mr. Tideman came to San Francisco and started the Henry George School
there in 1949, first with a small office on Kearny Street, eventually
moving to 833 Market, the School's present location. As executive
secretary, and later as executive vice president, he led the School
through the establishment of five Bay Area branches. He pioneered the
concept of giving School volunteers the opportunity for creative
leadership, and set up the policy of having as many as ninety
individuals serve at one time on the five branch School Boards, plus a
thirty-member Central Board of Directors.
Since the inception of the Bay Area School and its branches, Mr.
Tideman and a host of volunteers have taught ten-week basic economic
courses to some 3500 Californians, the School's aim being to teach as
widely as possible the economics a person needs to know to wield
influence as an informed citizen in public affairs. The basic courses,
as well as such advanced classes as Money, the Science of Political
Economy, Free Trade, and Social Problems, are free and are supported
by the voluntary subscriptions of the 400 members in the Bay Area. In
1973, through Mr. Tideman's efforts, a number of prominent citizens
and legislators joined the Northern California Advisory Board of the
School, including Assemblyman Wttlie Brown and newspaper columnist
Mr. Tideman has sought assessment reform research on tax issues and
on measures proposed by the State legislature, representing civic
groups interested in recouping some of the increased land values
created by community projects such as BART. He has many times spoken
against granting property tax exemptions for land held by private
schools, and has opposed every sales tax proposed during his residence
on the West Coast. He has consistently urged reform in property tax
assessment, pointing out that among the extravagances of the
government is the non-collection of community-created ground rents,
and that reducing taxes on land is itself inflationary. Though
surrounded by enthusiasts for Henry George's ideas, Mr. Tideman always
maintains he speaks not as a Georgist, but only for himself and his
own convictions. This is a reflection of his endeavor to develop a
spirit of open-mindedness in the School, based on an understanding of
Henry George's concepts, and on his belief that through the
educational process, people should be enabled to think for themselves.
For fourteen years Mr. Tideman was secretary oF the Government Finance
Section of the Commonwealth Club, in which he has a lifetime
membership. He has written a column on economics for the Pacific Sun;
was a commentator on Radio Station KPFA for about ten years, and is
the author of numerous articles in the field of taxation, appearing in
the Hastings Law Journal and other distinguished publications. Mr.
Tideman and his wife, Meighen, have ten children, aged from four to
thirty-two, one of whom (Nicholaus) served on the President's Council
of Economic Advisors. Aside from education, Mr. Tideman has other
interests and hobbies. Calling himself "a home repair man,"
he owns a collection of power tools and does everything from laying
floors to repairing the roof. He delights in reading his children such
"grown-up" works as The Odyssey and Plutarch's Lives,
claiming children will sense it if an adult enjoys the stories read.
Though his interest in Henry George will no doubt continue, Robert
Tideman is now the president of Tideman Montessori Schools, Inc., and
is developing a chain of Montessori Schools in the Bay Area. Mrs.
Tideman is the director of their two existing schools, and their
daughter Cynthia Alexander will be head teacher at their third school,
to be opened in Fremont in the fall.