Although he goes to nursery in the Wakefield Ward each Sunday, my son attends pre-school twice a week at the Braddock Baptist Church in Annandale, Virginia. Lots and lots of churches sponsor pre-schools. Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, and who knows what other denominations all runs pre-schools. Mormons do not. Why? There are a couple of possible answers:
1. Sponsoring pre-schools would undermine the Churchâ€™s message that mothers with children who are not yet of school age ought to be at home. On this view, the absence of Mormon pre-schools is analogous to the CES policy of not employing the mothers of young children full time.
2. There is no professional Mormon clergy. As near as I can tell, most of the administrative work of the Braddock Baptist Church Pre-School is done by the churchâ€™s minister. Put in economic terms, there are start-up costs to a pre-school that a paid clergy already absorbs.
3. There is a liability issue. Pre-schools are places where children get injured. I suspect that the Braddock Baptist Church gets around this problem by being largely judgement proof. I seriously doubt that they have the assets to interest the contingency-fee plaintiffsâ€™ lawyers who would bring a suit over the injury of a child. The Church, however, has deep pockets and would thus make a more tempting target for litigation.
4. Administrative burden. This is related to the professional clergy point. If Church buildings are being used, the Church would want to have some sort of control over the program. This would require that local officers take on the burden, and would also â€“ given the Churchâ€™s penchant for administrative uniformity â€“ require that the Church promulgate guidelines and programs etc. for any pre-school program. In an era of tight budgets, big building programs, and employee downsizing in Salt Lake, there is no desire to commit resources to this project.
Even if there are reasons why the Church as an institution (with all of its buildings) does not wish to become a pre-school provider, I am still a bit puzzled as to why some place like Salt Lake or Orem isnâ€™t swarming with unaffiliated, but nevertheless overtly Mormon pre-schools. Of course, other than a couple of months while I studied for the bar, I havenâ€™t lived in Utah since I got married. Maybe there is a Mormon pre-school on every corner in Deseret. I know that there is a Baptist pre-school on every corner in Little Rock.