Utah Education Proving People Opposed to Government Shouldn’t Run Government

I love many things about my home.  Deep rooted phobias about government do not fall on that list.  Our politicians, local, state and federal seemingly can’t help but illustrate how stupid it is when people vote for government representatives that want to undermine the government.  It has serious consequences that should be indefensible.

In Saturday’s Salt Lake Tribune, Lindsay Whitehurst and Lisa Schencker reveal just what the reality of these policies is in practice: ignorance, poverty and failure.

“I wasn’t done with school, I didn’t feel like I was finished. I wanted to keep going,” said Barlow, a voracious reader who as a child devoured biographies of famous Americans. “I didn’t want to be in construction when I was as old as my father.”

His father put him to work anyway. Had he been in public school, a sudden absence might have been noticed. But Barlow, now 23, grew up in a Utah-Arizona border town as a member of the polygamous sect led by Warren Jeffs.

Like all young members of the sect, he was pulled out of public school in 2000 at Jeffs’ order. Children in the sect are educated at home.

And in both states, the government stays out of home-schools. Utah school districts are forbidden from making parents keep records of instruction or attendance, requiring them to have any teaching qualifications or testing home-school students.

I actually attended a few college classes with young men from polygynous students and like Barlow here, and found in discussions that they were so sheltered from basic knowledge I’d been taught in school that our small group conversations wasted time covering background information.  This is anecdotal on my part, but still makes me very sad and frustrated that politicians can be elected and reelected on a foundation of hamstringing schools.

“The idea that government should be the ultimate authority over educating children is bogus,” said Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, sponsor of a 2005 bill to keep government out of home-schools. “If we’re going to use government resources and focus government attention on solving problems, let’s go where the problems really exist.”

I wish I could tell you that Madsen was not representative of the kind of language that dominates discussions about public education, but you couldn’t find a more mainstream position here.  What I want to know is what problems someone like Madsen perceives and how he proposes we stop them; if he doesn’t see undereducated and ignorant children as a problem, what exactly does he think government is fucking for?

Joseph Broadbent, now 23, said his father ended his education at age 13 or 14.

“I begged him and begged him to [let me] finish the 10th grade,” Broadbent said. Instead, he learned the welding business.

Broadbent said he also suffered physical abuse at home and left the sect about six years ago. When the construction work dried up, he made plans to get his GED.

But the years out of school took their toll. He has taken the test four times and failed. For now, he is back to welding.

That home schooled children are lacking basic skills and the ability to even obtain a GED should alarm anyone.  Being unable to get a high school diploma not only consigns these young people to poverty, but ignorance is harmful in and of itself.  Why is this acceptable.  Why do we let this happen?

Some 400 young people who have left or been forced out of the FLDS sect over eight years have come to the nonprofit Diversity Foundation for help, according to director Shannon Price.

How many are behind on their education?

“One hundred percent,” Price said.

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