Wouldn't it be cool if some of us could start up a private, independent (secular) high school in Utah Valley?
I've thought about living and working in Utah Valley but because I have two teenagers,just don't want to do it, as they'd get sucked in by Mormon culture and/or be ostracized etc.
I know there's UVU for college kids but be nice if there were a HS that was openly not Mormon. Of course, Mormon kids would possibly want to attend, but the focus and theme of some of the things taught or offered at the school could weed that likelihood out a little.
I love this idea actually! Not sure how feasible it is but if a secular charter school or private school was created, I'd definitely look into it. We are in south Utah County ourselves and I sometimes worry about how my kids will be treated when they get older. I know of some teens who attend seminary and fake being Mormon just to fit in and be accepted. I think that's awful that such tactics are even necessary to fit in. I hope that as the state continues to become less Mormon, perhaps my kids won't have to go through this when they get that old. Already there are a lot less active or even members at all than there was when I was going to school here.
I'm about a year away from graduating with an education degree for teaching high school science, and I live in Provo. So... I'd love for there to be something like this. How awesome would it be for teachers to openly talk about evolution without having to worry about getting parents upset? Ohhhh.... bliss.
I'm not exactly sure how you'd distinguish it from regular public schools, though, since they're already supposed to be secular. The curriculum wouldn't be very different. What you're talking about is a school culture where students and staff are non-LDS. In Utah County, I don't know if there would be enough demand for that.
Just tossing out ideas, but I think starting or getting involved in a high school club might be a more realistic route. Check out the Secular Student Alliance or Center for Inquiry On Campus.
High school organizations like these are popping up all over the place, and it would give you an idea for how popular something like this would be.
The group could have guest speakers come in to give lectures and do all sorts of things as openly non-Mormon. Lessons could be more frank ("this is what's wrong with Creationism...") and it would be a way just to socialize with other non-Mormons.
I've toyed with the idea of setting something up like this as a non-profit organization for adults. (A replacement for church, if you will.) Monthly lectures on science or religion, getting involved in charities, social events, "field trips" to museums, networking...
Yes, it wouldn't be different than a regular public school that is supposed to be secular anyway--but it could be billed as an "independent, private high school" and the way the language on the website etc. is worded, it could be shown to be clearly intended for a non-LDS crowd, so that LDS parents in general wouldn't really want their kids to go there.
Example - Parents Coffee Night. Students Coffee House (a club where they can socialize and perform or listen to music, etc.)... and a listing of special lectures etc. on Darwinism etc.... a Gay/Straight Alliance club, etc. that would make it clear that it is intended to broaden the minds of the students etc.
Well, the easiest type of private school to set up is one that is essentially online. You have someone running it, and the courses are taught online through curriculum that I assume would have to be approved by the local state regulations.
But there could be a main building housing the school where the kids could come during the day to do their online learning or studying (each brings own laptop?) and the main benefit to having a building to go to is for with recreational/social/club opportunities.
There is a type of program like this in Canada where I live where the students go in and do their own thing, take tests and study, etc. but there are clubs and activities they can also participate in. They can also learn from home, so long as they are submitting their work in on time and regularly.
Only a few certified teachers would be needed to do grading of tests and assignments, but wouldn't need to teach in a regular sense every day. But a couple of core subject teachers could give "seminars" (aka lessons) or be available for help, to answer questions at certain days/times throughout the week, so all together, probably 4-6 teachers would be required for English, Science, Math, Phys Ed and maybe a couple of other subjects.
The key would be to make sure it offers very clear, non LDS-focused opportunities and that in the marketing information, it is a clear alternative to other public schools in the area. .... so that it doesn't get hijacked by some enterprising Mormons who decide they want to run the place.
The beauty to creating this type of a highschool program is that it doesn't need to be heavily populated or large. It can be a small private school, with individual teachers who act more like tutors, and for the types of students who don't mind self-directing their studies and want to be learning in a more open type of space.
I noticed that a new Charter High School is being built in north-west Orem and is supposed to be completed this fall. I'm not sure of the name of it yet but it might be more secular than public High School, especially if it doesn't have a seminary building next door.