Heard that before?
So has Bob Weeks, out in Kansas. And so, when a Wichita, Kansas public school board member made a similar allegation, he decided to do some fact checking.
It turns out that the Wichita Catholic school system expels about 1 out of every 2,000 students each year, while the public school system expels kids at about 10 times that rate.
Read the full story here.
The Wichita Catholic school system also serves to dispel some other myths about Catholic education.
For instance: "Catholic schools do well because they don't have to deal with minority students, who are also frequently poor students."
The facts: Among the almost 11,000 students in Wichita Catholic schools, over 1,300 are Spanish-speaking and over 2,300 are minority. Almost a quarter come from low income families. (Source here.)
Another myth: "Catholic schools do well because they don't have to deal with students with special educational needs."
Again, the facts: There are no entrance exams for Wichita Catholic schools. If a child needs an Individualized Education Program he gets it and the staff works with him to ensure that he reaches his potential.
According to Superintendent Bob Voboril,
We have a group of counselors and nurses that do everything they can to serve every kid with a disability. We do that without any federal funds. It’s not about how smart they are.The right attitude
When people come to me and say, "We don’t need those low-earners," I tell them every time, "Okay, I’ll buy that, if you can show me in the Bible where it says that Jesus came to save only the top 50 percent." We have a care for every darn kid here.
The Wichita Catholic school system is so successful because it has adopted the right attitude towards Catholic education. According to Mr. Voboril,
This is how Catholic schools should be. They are built around faith. They are built around parish. They are built around community. And they are built around the Spirit. We don’t separate school from parish, parish from diocese, it’s all part of the same whole. And that whole is living the stewardship way of life.When asked about moving on to other, larger dioceses Voboril responded,
I could go to other places that have more resources. But in the end, I am going to make a difference by staying in a diocese that is so committed to forming people the right way. Nobody is doing it as effectively as we are and nobody is as passionate as we are. In other places, they are just talking about holding on and surviving. Here, we are talking about new and innovative ways to spread Catholic schools even further across the diocese.DOR is one of those places where they are just "holding on and surviving," despite all the happy talk to the contrary coming out of Buffalo Rd.
Bishop Matthew Clark, Fr. Joe Hart and MCCS Superintendent Anne Willkens Leach could learn an awful lot from Wichita.
Most likely they won't.
If history is any guide, our local triumvirate will just continue to ignore this success story.