Those who belittle the extraordinary success of Catholic schools in educating inner-city minority kids often remark that the schools achieve their impressive record because they expel all the non-performers and troublemakers, something public schools cant do. There is not an iota of truth in this assertion. But it is making the rounds once more, this time with a persuasive-sounding number attached to it. Heres why.
In an interview with New York magazine last month, East Side Democrat Steve Sanders, the powerful chairman of the State Assemblys Education Committee, dismissed Mayor Giulianis plan to raise private funds to send 1,000 low-performing public school children to Catholic schools. Scoffing at the idea that Catholic schools could educate such problem kids when the public schools cannot, he charged that Catholic schools expelled as many as 3,000 students a year.
I asked the assemblyman, whose committee oversees the failing city public school system, where he got his number. He knew of no documentation for it, couldnt cite a single case of a child being expelled, and had spoken to no Catholic-school official to try to verify his assertion. The number, he said, had come from someone in Rudy Crews officewho turned out to be the Board of Educations lobbyist in Albany.
I then asked Chancellor Crews spokeswoman whether the Board collected data about expulsions from Catholic schools. She promised to check and get back to me. She never did. According to superintendent of Catholic schools Catherine Hickey, her system hasnt held an expulsion hearing in five years.