20 June 2010

Primary and Secondary List 2010

Information about primary and secondary schools is more difficult to locate, mostly because many of them do not publish their information on the internet, so I'm sure I'm missing some entries, but here is what I have found.

Beginning with schools officially operated by Church Educational Services, LDS Philanthropies shows that the Church currently operates LDS Elementary School in Suva, Fiji as well as the Fiji LDS Church College, which is really the equivalent of an American high school (most of the Church schools in the Commonwealth nations follow this convention of referring to secondary schools as "colleges").

The Church operates Moroni High School in Kiribati.

In Tonga, the Church operates Saineha Middle and High School on Vava'u; Liahona, Pakilau, and Havelu Middle Schools, and Liahona High School on Tongatapu, and middle schools on Eua and Ha'apai.

In Samoa the Church operates the LDS Church College in Pesega, LDS Church College and Primary School in Vaiola, and the Sauniatu Primary School.

The only other schools for which the Church advertises its support are the Juarez Stake Academy or La Academia Juárez and El Centro Escolar Benemérito de las Américas, both of which are the equivalent of high school programs.

While the Church-run schools in the South Pacific are perhaps the most famous schools in the recent history of the CES, the Church policy on education, ever since the call to gather to Utah was ended, has been one of building schools only where local educational opportunities were insufficient to meet the needs of the members. With the recent shut down of the Church College of New Zealand, as well as earlier shutdowns of Church primary and secondary schools in Mexico and elsewhere (I've have heard unsubstantiated reports of former Church schools in Peru, Chile, and Bolivia), one might be led to believe that it is only a matter of time before the Church pulls out of primary and secondary education entirely. However, it is telling that while some primary schools were shutdown in Mexico, the Church still operates two high schools in that nation, one of which is well over a hundred years old. Even as the local education systems continue to improve, the Church schools have become a part of the local community, and pulling out is never easy. (One need look no further than the reaction to the shutdown of the Church College of New Zealand.) While the Church may be hesitant to open new schools, they will also likely be slow to close them down.

While the Church has been slow to build more schools, occasionally one will hear stories about partnerships it has entered into with members who already owned schools. I've heard of at least two stories, one in India, and one in South Africa. Hopefully I will be able to pull more information in the future, but in both of these schools the founder was a convert to the Church who built the schools primarily to help orphans and low-income students. The Church agreed to provide some financial assistance, and with no pressure from the Church, the owners introduced gospel instruction into the curriculum. This would be a good example of a project where the Church influence is directly felt, but it nonetheless tries to keep a low profile.

The next category of schools would be the independent LDS schools, i.e. those like SVU which have an LDS mission, but have no formal ties with the Church.

The American Heritage School in American Fork, Utah mentions the "restored gospel of Jesus Christ" in its mission statement directly. This clearly qualifies it as an independent LDS school, but it has also lent its name to a series of independent "sister schools" known as American Heritage School of Las Vegas, Cache Valley, South Jordan, and Spanish Fork.

The Spanish Fork campus moved and changed its name to the Helaman Academy. It quotes extensively from LDS scriptures in its mission statement and references a commitment to "the gospel" (emphasis added), which would definitely qualify it as LDS in character.

The Las Vegas Campus and South Jordan Campuses fail to mention the Church in their mission statements, at best claiming to be "Christian", but both schools explicitly adopt LDS values in their code of conduct, so it's safe to say they are LDS in nature if not explicitly in name or purpose. The South Jordan campus appears to be the third iteration of a school, previously known as Mount Hyrum, which was more explicitly LDS, whereas the Las Vegas campus appears to have grown directly out of an LDS homeschool group.

The American Heritage School of Cache Valley was apparently a reincarnation of the Liberty Education Center, which was a reincarnation of the Kimber Academy, but it does not appear to be in operation anymore. The Kimber Academy on the other hand is operational from all appearances, and has affiliates in Lehi, UT; Midvale, UT; Moses Lake, WA; and Boise, ID. (I can only find evidence that the Lehi and Midvale affiliates are currently operational.) The Kimber schools don't appear to reference the Church directly, either in a mission statement or the code of conduct, as did the American Heritage Schools, but the Book of Mormon appears to be an integral part of the Kimber curriculum.

As was mentioned briefly before with regards to the Las Vegas campus of the American Heritage Schools, it appears that many of the LDS schools have grown out of or been given support by small LDS homeschool play groups, which seems an appropriate place to mention a growing phenomenon nationally that has been particularly evident among Evangelical Christians and more conservative Latter-day Saints. That phenomenon is a preference for homeschooling. Among the Evangelicals, the number of home schoolers has grown so significantly that they now sponsor the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) on a shared campus with Patrick Henry College (a college that was founded in 2000 largely to cater to homeschoolers) in Purcellville, VA. The Latter-day Saints are not quite as well organized, but several resources and organizations have grown up to support members who choose to homeschool. These include: the LDS Home Educators Association, the National LDS Homeschool Association, the Latter-day Saint National Home Educators, the School of Abraham, the Washington State Latter-day Saint Family Educators, LDS Homeschooling in California, the Latter-day Saint Eastern Home Educators (in which my sister actively participates), and the Maeser Academy (an online LDS high school).

Something fascinating, but not particularly surprising considering LDS culture, is the way the different LDS education initiatives interact with each other. For example, Latter-day Saint Eastern Home Educators have held their annual conference at Southern Virginia University for the past couple of years, and though separated from some of their peers in the west, the Latter-day Saint Eastern Home Educators discuss and debate the methods and resources coming out of Utah more than the amble resources which are so much closer in Purcellville.

One of those topics of discussion is the Thomas Jefferson Education. The entire LDS homeschool network seems to have been affected in one way or another by the Thomas Jefferson Education, so much so that many individual homeschoolers are defined by whether they support or oppose the method, albeit the larger organizations and networks tend to be neutral and thereby more inclusive. One even sees the influence of a Thomas Jefferson Education at institutions like the original American Heritage Academy, which is older than the method.

The Kimber Academies and many of the homeschool groups also appear to have close ties to another institution, George Wythe University, whose founder first articulated the Thomas Jefferson Education. This school was not mentioned in the entry on LDS higher education because it does not claim to be LDS, but clearly most of the students, the founders, and supporters are LDS. It will be interesting to see how George Wythe University and Thomas Jefferson Education continue to shape the future of LDS education. This movement has certainly had the most success at establishing independent LDS educational institutions in recent history.

When one moves away from this particular philosophy of education it is difficult to find any other successful independent LDS schools other than those previously mentioned in India and South Africa where the Church has had some direct involvement. I am aware of an LDS boarding school founded in Japan, but it barely lasted four years before going under. The Deseret Academy in Utah is another example of an LDS school that just couldn't survive.

As I become aware of other schools, I'll try to list them, but for now this is what I could find.

17 June 2010

The Higher Education List 2010

I guess a good place to begin is to list the schools that are currently operating. In the future I plan to do a piece on each school individually, but the list should act as a guide of where I'm headed.

The first category I will cover is higher education. As anyone familiar with LDS education is aware, the Church actually owns and operates several institutions, four of which would fall in the higher education category. These schools are Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University--Hawaii, Brigham Young University--Idaho, and LDS Business College. At this point one might want to mention an institution like the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies, as it is owned and operated by the Church, and it offers a higher education curriculum. It even has a separate open application process from the other Church schools. The question here is one of administration and autonomy. While non-BYU students may apply to the Jerusalem Center, it is officially under the BYU umbrella in a way that the Hawaii and Idaho campuses are not. Also, if we list the Jerusalem Center separately, we would have to then consider the Barlow Center in Washington DC, BYU's London Center, and maybe even BYU's Salt Lake Center. These programs generally restrict admission to already admitted BYU students, but I've heard (unsubstantiated) stories of students getting admitted to BYU, with their admission being restricted to their participate in the Washington Seminar. To further complicate matters, the Church runs the Missionary Training Center in Provo (in addition to several others around the world), which is officially under the BYU umbrella, and is arguably one of the best language schools in the country, but one cannot apply to attend in the traditional sense, and no certificate or transferable credit is offered, so I'm really going to have to come up with a better definition of what constitutes "higher education" if I hope to come up with a comprehensive list.

Moving on to those programs which operate independent of the Church, but nevertheless hold to an LDS mission, the most prominent and fully operational program is Southern Virginia University (SVU). This school explicitly mentions the Church in its mission statement and it offers a full undergraduate education which has been certified by Virginia and accredited by the American Academy for Liberal Education, an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The only other fully functional program that explicitly adopts an LDS mission is the Academy for Creating Enterprise (ACE). This group maintains three campuses, one in the Philippines, one in Mexico, and one in Brazil. The basic program is an 8 week course in entrepreneurship. At one time BYU-Hawaii offered a certificate to graduates of the Academy, but their website has changed several times, so it is no longer clear that this is the case.

There is one more functioning program that deserves mention as being in the LDS tradition, but it is not clear how committed it is to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is Nauvoo University. Though Nauvoo University is clearly being headed up by members of the Church, at one time Nauvoo University had a member of Graceland University's administration (a university sponsored by the Community of Christ) on its board, and for a time it presented itself as serving members of all Mormon traditions. This makes sense in that it claims to be a reestablishment of the original Nauvoo University founded by Joseph Smith, but it leaves one to wonder whether it fits in the above definition of an LDS education. They did adopt the original mission statement given by Joseph Smith as their own, but this does not explicitly mention the Church. Recently they appear to have moved closer to a more exclusive approach as to which of the many Mormon traditions they favor, but even so, they are not explicitly LDS in nature as are the Church-owned schools, SVU, and ACE, and one must wonder how their character will evolve in time given how new this institution is as an independent body. Currently they only offer a semester worth of classes, but they are clearly a functioning institution of higher education.

There are three other programs which are explicitly LDS in nature, but are not really functioning programs. The first is Desert Valley Academy (DVA), which has yet to offer any classes, but plans to open in 2012 as a full degree-granting university. I wish them luck, but only time will tell if they are successful. The second program is Bellota a Roble (or Acorn to Oak), which has held GMAT prep courses in Argentina, and currently operates an apartment in Cordoba where LDS students can stay, but they have yet to implement something consistent enough to be considered a fully functioning program. Their stated goal however is to build a full university someday. Finally, a group of BYU students have gone to Japan every summer under the auspices of the BYU Japanese English Education Research Center for the past four years to teach English in some of the Church buildings to members of the Church who need to get their TOEFL scores up so they can attend one of the Church schools in the United States. This group is headed up by Professor Watabe from BYU. He has also been actively working to build support for something more permanent, including possibly an LDS university in Japan so students would be able to enjoy the benefits of an LDS education without having to pass the TOEFL and traveling to America. As of yet, this project has not taken on a formal structure.

Thanks to some wonderful, but somewhat dated, research by E. Vance Randall of Brigham Young University and Chris Wilson of Loyola University published in proceedings of the 12th Annual Conference of the LDS International Society, another group has been identified. These are educational initiatives that were founded by LDS members and in which many or most students are LDS, but which tend to be more general in their mission, often having a general humanitarian purpose. Having worked in Bolivia with Ascend Alliance, I know that most of the students in our business classes were initially LDS, and we actually made a proactive effort to find non-LDS students in keeping with the general humanitarian mission. I haven't verified the operation of all of these groups, but this lists some of them: Choice Humanitarian, UNITUS, JUCONI, Ascend Alliance, Enterprise Mentors International, Reach the Children, Norma I. Love Foundation, Rose Education Foundation, Help–International, American Indian Services, Huntsman Armenian Projects, Ouelessebougou–Utah Alliance, Norman Gardner/Braille Resource and Literacy Center, and Universidad Hispana.

And finally I have heard rumors of yet another school in Guatemala, founded by members of the Church for returned missionaries, but I am still looking up the background information.

This brings me to the end of this list. If I missed anything let me know. Next time I will try to shift to primary and secondary.

16 June 2010

Getting Started

It's always hard to know where to begin a project like this, which is probably why so many of us begin with similar musings. I guess the best place to begin is to say something about myself and state what my goal in creating this blog is.

As one can probably guess from the title of the blog, I intend to write about the field of LDS education. When I refer to LDS education, I am referring to education geared in one way or another toward members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have followed developments in LDS education, especially higher education, for most of my life. One might guess from this that I was raised a Mormon (and you'd guess correctly). I love the Church and I love the Church schools. I am a proud graduate of BYU, and I am grateful for all of the LDS educational opportunities that already exist. I hope more will become available in the near future, and I am especially interested in furthering those opportunities for members of the Church who do not live in the United States.

As for what I hope this blog to do, I hope to gather some information about LDS education in one place to promote deeper awareness of what's going on and interest in furthering the movement. Some of my posts will focus on the theory or doctrine behind an LDS education. Others may look at its historical development. Finally in others I hope to include regular updates on schools and programs in operation today. While my focus will be on higher education, I hope to also include some information about primary and secondary education.

I believe robust discussion is healthy, and I invite comments, but I do ask that they be respectful. I also ask for your patience. This is my first attempt at a blog, and I really don't know what I'm doing, so wish me luck.