I'm a convert who grew up attending Catholic school for grade school, then public high school. The standards in the Catholic school were superior to the public school in every way, academically as well as in religious education. I've worked as a nurse all my life and wasn't able to home school my children. Home schooling would not have been the best choice for my family anyway. I thought hard about sending my kids to a Catholic school or other Christian school but worried about religious discrimination. I wished there had been an LDS academy system. Many Catholic parents were willing to sacrifice financially to send their kids to a Catholic school. And there were ways to earn tuition discounts as well. So I really don't understand the lack of support from LDS parents for an LDS school system.
Thank you for this article. It was truly enlightening. I am so thankful that I homeschooled our children in the 80's and 90's. Like Sister Patricia Cheeseman writes, we also experienced scorn from those inside and outside the church, but I felt confident that I was being directed by the Holy Spirit. Having graduated from BYU in Child Development and Family Relations was very helpful in giving me confidence to carry on. Most of important of all, I knew that our children are the most important trust the Lord has given us. I had never read the talks by the General Authorities referred to in this article, but I really believed that the gospel should be the foundation of our education. After reading this I feel more strongly than ever that I was directed by heaven. It was hard work but definitely worth it.
I, as a parent of children in the late 70's and 80's, looked for alternatives to public education. We lived in a rural community and had no other option than to send our children to the public school system. My husband became a member of the local school board and he tried to get good teachers with values and morals to be hired. It saddens me to find out that we had a perfect curriculum in the church Academy and I now wish I could have had that for my children. Unfortunately we rely upon those leaders in public schools to dictate what is to be taught and what is not to be taught. In 1991 I finished my college education and became a teacher and tried to instill in my students a knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. Sometimes we discussed different religions and their basic knowledge. When I became a music teacher I used several primary songs to teach perfect lessons to them. One year I went to my principal and asked if we could portray the birth of our Savior at our Christmas Pageant. She said that I could "because it is history" and you wouldn't believe all the students who wanted to participate in it. I only had a few from Jehovah Witnesses who wouldn't participate. We performed the birth of Jesus from then on in the public school system. Interestingly, not a soul called the school district and complained.
Significant information. As our public education becomes even more godless, we need to be aware of this history as we consider alternatives. Thank you.
(General Board of Education Minutes. April 9, 1989. LDS Archives).
(General Board of Education Minutes. April 9, ????. LDS Archives).
My grandfather, Joseph Howard Maughan, was the last Principal of the Murdock Academy before it closed in 1922, so I know a fair amount about this subject. The demise of the academies came from several weaknesses built into the very concept:
(1) It was a matter of double taxation, why should the Saints, they thought, pay for a church school system when their State/Territorial taxes were already paying for one?
(2) The academies worked best, therefore, in areas, like southern Utah, that did not have modern school facilities.
(3) The Utah Constitution of 1896, if I understand correctly, was adamant that no public funds would be used to teach religion. This mentality seeped into the Saints, who felt there should be a strict separation between civil and religious education.
(4) The State of Utah passed a law in 1920 ordering every county to set up a publically-funded school system. This made the remaining academies redundant.
(5) It was also a matter of local control. Stakes and wards were paying for church schools, but had no control over the curriculum or over who got hired. The Saints didn’t want to pay for schools they had no control over. You talk about the Saints objecting to Gentiles teaching their children—the same thing applies to the academies hiring teachers, even LDS, unknown to anyone in the community.
There were Mormon colonies established in northern Mexico in the 1880's. My grandfather was commissioned by Karl G. Maeser to be the architect and builder of the Juarez Stake Academy, as per the directions of the President of the Church. He was only 23 years old at the time. He took a correspondence course to learn how to be an architect, then he went to work designing and supervising the building of this grand Academy. It was finished and dedicated in 1906, and had already had a couple of classes graduate by then. The Juarez Stake Academy is the only Church Academy still functioning as a Church school and is still thriving. My grandfather's brother graduated from that school. My parents both graduated high school from that school, and many of my aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives were schooled there and graduated with honors. The Juarez Stake Academy has produced some of the most faithful Latter-day Saint leaders, stake presidents, Mission Presidents, Temple Presidents, and General Authorities, as well as righteous families. Many of my family members also taught there after they graduated. It is still standing, filled with students every year, and still teaching gospel principles along with academic subjects. My Dad's oldest brother was the shop teacher at the Academy, and after he passed away, they built a new shop building and named it after him...Edwin McClellan Shop Building. My ancestors took the counsel of the Prophet to heart and built a Church Academy to last through to the Millennium.
Thank you for this very interesting and enlightening article. It brings tears when I consider what "might" have been for our sweet children in the Church. We did home schooling and experienced hurtful scorn both from within and without the Church. To this day I am very grateful that we still taught our children this way. We were able to have prayer and scripture study together each day, along with the other academic studies required. It brought interesting and unexpected blessings. We would do it again!
As another who is interested in studying the history of education and particularly that of our Church and Utah-Idaho communities, I enjoyed reading your text. Thank you. I look forward to the rest of your series.
Sister Isackson, this is an exceptional article, wonderfully researched and written. I have enjoyed reading it and it has given me insight and perspective I had hitherto been without. Thank you, very much.
Thank you for these great articles. We already homeschool, Pres. Hinkley's words and my patriarchal blessing gave me the courage. I look forward to when, I believe, the church will bring this back. There are members ready, willing and able to make a private LDS school work.
Email (will not be published)
Daily news, articles, videos and podcasts sent straight to your inbox.