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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended September 03, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 30Aug00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

New FLDS Policy Decimates Local Public Schools

COLORADO CITY, ARIZONA -- A month after FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs called on church members to leave the public schools, teaching their children at home instead, the now open schools have felt the effects of that decision. About two-thirds of the previous student body decided not to enroll this year, leaving the schools with nearly empty halls and underutilized resources. But while the loss of students hurts, the schools are seeing a few benefits.

Jeffs called for his followers to shun the public schools in late July, urging them to turn their backs on "secular" society and cut-off ties to "apostates." The school in Hildale, Utah, Colorado City's sister-town across the state line, saw the first effect of the decision when just 94 students, compared to 250 students last year, showed up to the first day of classes on Monday, August 21st. Hildale also had 10 of its 12 teachers quit because of Jeff's advice, making the school hire another staff member and forcing Principal Maz Tolman to teach also.

Fearing similar difficulties, Colorado City postponed starting school a week, thinking that attendance would drop from 1,000 students last year to 450 to 500. When the school finally opened on Monday, August 28th, only about 350 students arrived. Colorado City Superintendent Alvin Barlow said that the school's junior high and high school-level classes were hardest hit, with just 30 high school-aged students enrolling (verses 200 last year) and the school having to merge the junior high-aged classes into the elementary school for lack of students. Like in Hildale, Colorado City was forced to hire new teachers to get the student-teacher ration down to 19, the same as it was last year.

But some residents see a silver lining in the changes. Members of the "second ward," the polygamous group that broke away from the FLDS Church, or "first ward" as it is known locally, 10 years ago are pleased because of the changes, "It's a lot better that they are gone, if you ask me," said Melissa Hammon, a "second ward" member. "Eighty percent of the teachers last year were indoctrinating the kids with all the first ward teachings. Now, I think they'll get a better education." And Isis Israel, who belongs to neither sect, says, "I figure this way that it will be more attention for my kids."

Barlow, who is an FLDS Church member, thinks that the taxpayers in the town may actually benefit in the long run. "We have the highest tax rate in the state on schools. There's undoubtedly going to be a significant reduction in that since we will only have about one-third the number of students."


Town split by Mormon fight
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 29Aug00 N5
By Mark Shaffer: Arizona Republic
Polygamous families empty public schools

Low turnout causes delay for Colorado City schools
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 23Aug00 D5
By Mark Shaffer: Arizona Republic
Religion forbidding public education


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