Scam, kidnap by South African police

Scam, kidnap by South African police

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Scam, kidnap by South African police

Scam, kidnap by South African police

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Schools that prepare children for productive lives - in Sydney, Philadelphia and New York City. A school for girl geniuses in Sydney. 
SJ Dodgson MJoTA 2013 v7n1 p0225

Philadelphia is in turmoil: in the wake of the court settlements in the Roman Catholic Church, churches have been closed down along with their parish schools, and more are expected to close at the end of this year. As well as public schools. We were told in January that 38 public schools will be closed; the number is now down to 28. Meanwhile we are realizing that the schools are being closed down in the wake of the building of a $110 million jail for kids. Money to jail kids, but not to educate them.

My high school, Sydney Girls High School, was set up for girl geniuses well over 100 years ago. It sits on 50 acres of grass and trees in the center of Sydney, which was, and still is, the largest and most exciting city in Australia.

When I started high school in 1964, in what is now known as year 7, I was 12 and I had 2 things going for me: my parents' house was in the catchment area, and my IQ was above average, and I had demonstrated throughout primary school that I always obeyed authority,  I wanted to learn, and I could read, print and write cursive, and do arithmetic, including long division in pounds, shillings and pence.

All that qualified me to put on a brown pleated tunic over a carefully ironed white shirt, plop on a wide-brimmed straw hat with a brown ribbon, pull on brown lace-up shoes over white socks and brown gloves, and show up at Sydney Girls' High School from Jan 1964 until Dec 1969, when I had completed my university matriculation exams and was awarded the Latin prize for Level II Latin. I was the only girl taking Level II Latin. All the other girl geniuses were taking Level I.

The school moved from the center of Sydney near the law courts, in the 1920s, and took over half of what had been the Sydney zoo. The zoo was moved across the harbor to a hill, a gorgeous home for kangaroos, koalas, lions, tigers, monkeys, spiny anteaters, platypi, elephants. The boys school took over the other half of the zoo, which abuts a 20 acre park. The teachers always complained that the boys got more than the girls.

I didn't complain. I had everything I needed, including the most important: stability as my life at home was falling apart. My mother was ill and crippled and my father was not able to cope. When I was 15, my father ran away with a young girl, who a year later committed suicide. My oldest brother started misbehaving, and I was a victim of this.

Being a teenager is hazardous, not in the least because parents of teenagers are getting bored with children who are no longer small and cuddly and no longer always adoring. And the parents are coming into middle age and finding that their lives are not what they expected, or they are getting sick, or have other stresses, often financial. Teenagers need to know that they are safe, and if they do not feel safe at home, they need to feel safe somewhere.

I cannot imagine how I could have coped if the New South Wales government had decided to build a huge prison with the money that needed to go to the school, and closed it down and made me travel 20 minutes or an hour longer to get to school each day. My older and younger brothers and I needed to be home after school because our youngest brother was in elementary school, and after he walked home from his school, he needed us there when our mother was at work. And we were.

Sydney Girls High School looks now just as it did in the mid 1960s. I walked past it on a beautiful Sunday morning in 2012, on the 96th anniversary of the end of World War I, which claimed the lives of 10% of the Australian population. Fathers and husbands and sons of Old Girls of Sydney Girls High School. The world's events swirl around the school, but the school itself has been an oasis for girl geniuses since it opened in 1883.

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The first time I had anything to do with UNSW, I was visiting the doctors' quarters at the UNSW teaching hospital. I remember being amazed at a young man wrapped only in a towel happily chatting with my father. 18 years later, UNSW awarded me a PhD and I flew to Philadelphia for 18 years at an Ivy League university click here
It is still a school for girl geniuses who are dressed in brown uniforms with white shirts. It is still a safe place, and has produced a large number of professional women: elected to parliament, judges, corporate lawyers, physicians, scientists, celebrities.

And it is, and always has been, a public school. No tuition fees. Free. Safe. Like all public schools should be.

Over the past 2 years, I have been a guest at 3 schools. Two in Philadelphia, both charter schools, and last week, at a private fee-paying school in New York.

All 3 require their students to wear uniforms, treat faculty, staff and other students with respect, and require students to believe in their futures, futures that include post-high-school training at academic institutions.

One charter school, in Center City Philadelphia close to the offices of the Philadelphia Tribune, which is the oldest published newspaper for and by sons and daughters of Africa.

Edited from website maintained by Philadelphia City government:

Charter Schools are independently operated PUBLIC schools that are funded with federal, state and local tax dollars.

Charters are non-profit, non sectarian, organizations that are approved by the local Board of Education   (the "authorizer") or the State Appeal Board.

Each charter has its own Board of Trustees and administrative staff and operates as a separate, independent  local educational agency (LEA) within Intermediate Unit 26 (IU 26).  The Pennsylvania Charter School Law - Act 22 of 1997 - set up charters to operate free of many of the local and state requirements that apply to traditional public schools.

Charter schools are accountable to their authorizer, however, for making academic progress, for fulfilling the terms of both its original charter and of its Charter Agreement  and for complying with a number of  applicable federal statutes - such as  No Child Left Behind, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Family Educational Rights and  Privacy Act and the Internal Revenue Code for (501)(c)(3) organizations; and state statutes - such as the Public Officials and Employee Ethics Act, the Right To Know Act, the Sunshine Act, the Public School Code of 1949 and the Pennsylvania Non Profit Corporation Act.

Each charter school should have a Parent/Community Handbook which explains the school's rules, how it complies with these statutes, a listing of dates and times for Board of Trustees' meetings, the procedure to be followed for parental inquiries and complaints and many other details about the school's operations.

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