Education Reclamation

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"The first thing we are going to do is remove all the administrators and hire new people," File says.

File is well equipped to handle the situation in Colorado City. He has experience running a small school district and is intimately familiar with the issues facing the Colorado City school district. My only question is whether he is willing to spend long periods of time in Colorado City, which is more than a four-hour drive from his home in Kingman.

Colorado City school superintendent Alvin Barlow -- the state's longest tenured school superintendent with more than 30 years' experience -- did not return my call seeking comment.

Longtime Colorado City high school teacher Deloy Bateman says he, along with the rest of the teachers, is pleasantly surprised that the state plans to take over the school district.

"We are still in a state of shock," Bateman says. "I don't think we really understand what this means."

Bateman left the FLDS five years ago over a child custody dispute with his then-second wife. Since then, Bateman has been the only teacher willing to publicly criticize the school district's policies.

Teachers, Bateman says, remain petrified of offending FLDS school administrators and board members.

Years of religious indoctrination have made the teachers -- especially the women -- incapable of challenging the authority of men.

"They have never thought for themselves in their lives," Bateman says. "Even when you get into a situation like this, they still don't know what to think."

What most teachers want, Bateman says, is more pay.

Bateman has taught science at the high school for 24 years. Last year his base salary was $27,000. He supports a large family on this meager salary, and when I spoke to him Saturday he had been working on scavenging car parts to fix his family van.

Few teachers in the country have done as much for students in the face of such hostile working conditions. Bateman voluntarily teaches more than a dozen classes every day. He begins before dawn and teaches into the evening. He's created a state-of-the-art science laboratory at his own expense. He drives students across the Arizona Strip on geology excursions in his personal vehicle.

"I've been here for 24 years, and it's literally been 18 hours a day," he says.

Bateman says he's cautiously optimistic that the day he has dreamed about for years -- a day when the FLDS no longer controls the school district -- is about to become reality.

"It's about time," he says. "We are ready for a change for sure."

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty