There were, in the 1840s and '50s, LDS schools throughout Deseret/Utah.
The federal government forced the Church to disband them through a variety of pressures, not least of which was the "Blaine Amendment" (named after a Maine Senator). The Blaine Amendment was a condition of statehood for many western states, not just Utah, and was originally a tool used against Catholics. In essence, it required the state, Utah in this case, to have government-run, tax-funded (aka welfare) schools, and that they be "non-sectarian". On this question, Utah cannot amend her charter without explicit permission of the federal government.
Obviously, this was not the reason there were grtf-welfare schools before 1896 in Utah since the constitution didn't take effect until statehood. But the federal government either passed laws or "approved" them from 1848 through 1896 because Utah was a territory under the thumb of Washington, D.C., who also appointed governors and judges. However, the federal government did require the territory to have grtf-welfare schools. It did let the Saints appoint a Territorial Superintendent of Schools, John Taylor. Elder (later President) Taylor traveled throughout the territory admonishing the Saints not to use the grtf-welfare schools but to "send" their children to the stake academies. Brigham Young emphatically rejected government-controlled schools.
Under the oppression of the Anti-Bigamy Laws, though, the Saints were unable to pay both the school taxes and the tuition for their children to attend the stake academies (among which Brigham Young Academy). The effect was to make the Saints send their children to grtf-welfare schools because the tax was coerced. Stake Academies continued to exist until c
. 1933, when David O. Mc
Kay sold Weber Stake Academy to the state of Utah for $1 because the stake and Church could no longer justify keeping it open for the low number of students who attended it.
In the same time frame, the Church initiated the Seminary program. It started in Magna, the only town (it's still not incorporated) in Utah with a substantially non-LDS population. The school board was not, therefore, controlled by Saints, but by our enemies and the curriculum and culture in the schools reflected that animosity. The High School there included many Saints' children who were coming home swearing, and drinking coffee and alcohol. To thwart this evil, the Brethren established the seminary program (with released time, but that may have come later, I wasn't there—not even I am that old).
If we were to extend the logic of Seminary to our modern world, LDS mothers would be bundling their second graders up for early-morning pre-seminary, because swearing is as common among 6 year-olds as sailors, and drugs are as prevalent in grammar school as grammar—more so in most schools I have taught in.
We do have middle schools and high schools in Polynesia (e.g
., Liahona in Tonga) and elsewhere, but they are becoming fewer as the grtf-welfare schools in those areas grow in power and size.
It doesn't seem likely that the Church will re-establish a system of schools any time soon, alas! But there is no denying that the current counsel is for us to be wary of grtf-welfare schools. We might even say that, in spite of no explicit statement to do so, that Family-Centered Education (aka, but misleadingly so, home schooling) and other alternatives to government welfare schools are the recommended approach to education in the Church.
In the September, 1886, edition of the Overland Monthly
, we read that the purpose of grtf-welfare schools in Utah was to divorce LDS children from their faith and their families, to "reduce to a minimum the influence of the Mormon [sic
] priesthood" on our rising generation. It was the strong echo of the cry to make "good Americans [sic
]" of the Irish and Italian immigrant children a few decades earlier. "Good Americans" meaning, of course, Protestants".
The Reverend Dabney warned his co-religionists that the same club they wielded in the XIX would be used against them one day in the future. He was not a Saint, but he certainly was a prophet.
Edited by LeSellers, 09 March 2012 - 10:46 AM.
The public school system: "Usually a twelve year sentence of mind control. Crushing creativity, smashing individualism, encouraging collectivism and compromise, destroying the exercise of intellectual inquiry, twisting it instead into meek subservience to authority".
— Walter Karp