And that all of the Mt. Carmel kids passed the English Language Arts exams, while only 43% of their public school peers passed.
So as Catholic Schools Week arrived, we search for the key to their academic successes and wonder if public schools will ever be able to unlock it?
It’s not the draconian strictness from back in the day that produced Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Mary Higgins Clark, Regis Philbin, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.
“No one’s getting slapped on the knuckles with rulers anymore,” said Susan George, director of the Inner City Scholarship Fund, which gives financial aid to Catholic school students, many of whom live in poverty.
“On the other hand, in Catholic school, every kid is tucking in his shirt as the principal walks by. And they’re not being greeted at the door by a New York City police officer.”
“There are great public schools,” said Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary Principal Suzanne Kaszynski. “But public school students sometimes feel anonymous. They don’t think anybody cares about them.”
The dunce caps and paddles might be gone – and the number of Catholic schools continues to shrink from lack of money – but the teachers still convey the message that much is expected of the kids.
Critics contend the Catholic school principals simply expel students who act up or aren’t up to snuff, making their ratings higher.
“I have never put out a student who is academically challenged,” Dixon said.
Strict – but not soul-breaking.
“We try to teach the culture of resilience,” Lessa said. “If you fail, don’t disengage. Get up again.
“Our kids have a lot of obstacles. In the neighborhood there may be gangs. A lot of our students are the children of single working mothers.
“Yes, we are very disciplined; we put order in their lives. And as much as they complain about it, I think they kind of crave it.”
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