Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 12-12-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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14 OPINION DECEMBER 12-18, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION Rhode Islanders recently learned something officially which we knew all along: The school system is failing our children. In a demo- graphic comparison, i.e. economically poorer areas to our economically poorer sections, Massachusetts cleaned our clocks. Indeed, this was true of every met- ric. If our state's school dis- tricts were taken as a whole, Rhode Island would fall in the bottom 10 percent of Massachusetts districts. Needless to say these deplorable results were withheld until after the general election. Then came the ridiculous excuses for the abysmal scores: Commissioner of Education Ken Wagner blamed the poor showing on the fact that we haven't been doing the test for the same period as has Massachusetts. Hogwash! It was he who capitulated to the teachers' unions and abandoned the use of a standardized test as a high-school graduation requirement. Now, the com- missioner is acting as the "beard" for the same unions by diverting his failure and that of educators onto the backs of parents. Look, the testing compares the same demographics per commu- nity and Rhode Island fails. Period. Rather than come up with an action plan to revamp the public schools, the commissioner, governor, and other supposed lead- ers – like members of the General Assembly whose silence is deafening – are just wringing their hands. The fact is that they are all a bunch of cowards. They are intimidated by the power of teacher unions whom they don't dare cross. For example, where was "Weepy" Wagner when ear- lier this year the Providence superintendent announced a five-year plan to cut chronic teacher absenteeism (defined as 11 or more days absent) from 58 percent to 54 percent? How can chil- dren have any continuity of learning when the teachers don't show up? Yet, with the teacher contract on the line, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza also wimped out with generous salary increases. With all the money spent on education, how can we as a society even tolerate the injustices in Providence, whose many students are behind the eight ball? I know teachers who do care and who want a sound educational plan but they are thwarted by the status quo. The unions are only interested in getting higher salaries for as little work as possible. The teacher unions are also succeeding since in places like South Kingstown they are get- ting union honchos on the school committees so they have allies on both sides of a negotiation. It is time for Commissioner Wagner to get the heave-ho if he doesn't resign in the face of this utter failure. The gov- ernor is also to blame. She is a puppet of the unions and "acts the part" of being concerned about education by proposing $1 billion in fixing school buildings and free tuition at CCRI. Fixing up the buildings is all well and good but it is what goes on inside the build- ing that matters. CCRI is swamped with ill-prepared students so the investment is another boondoggle and actually a sop to the unions since it creates more jobs. Pray tell, when will some- body with guts emerge to lead the reform in educa- tion? Right now, nobody is on the horizon. The commissioner is hedging his bets since he obviously knows what happened to one of his predecessors, Deborah Gist, when she tried to set standards. He cares more about retain- ing his job than doing it. Forrest Gump was correct – "Stupid is as stupid does." Violet is an attorney and for- mer state attorney general. School test result excuses 'hogwash' Saturday's story that the Edwards Twins were attacked and forced to cancel a show in Warwick is no surprise. Peace, joy, and love in the holiday sea - son? Not if you offend the left, there won't be! The Edwards Twins, Anthony and Edward, have been enter - taining in Rhode Island for a decade. The talented brothers, who used to perform their act in Las Vegas, do impersonations of many of the top musical stars, and are excellent at it. Saturday, the Providence Journal reported that their Dec. 3 show at the Gamm Theatre, now in Warwick, was canceled over "concerns." Whose concerns? We aren't told. The charge was that the show might use "black - face" to impersonate African American stars. Now stop and think for a moment. What idiot would use blackface in this day and age? "The Edwards Twins do not do blackface," Anthony told the paper. They have, though, in some shows, dark - ened their skin with makeup to perform Stevie Wonder and Lionel Ritchie. Wonder and Ritchie, said Anthony, have endorsed their performances and (Anthony) has been photo - graphed with Ritchie. So Lionel Ritchie is not offended. Check. James Vincent, president of the Providence branch of the NAACP, told the paper blackface is "offensive and should never be done under any circumstances." He's right. Blackface, used in minstrel shows almost 100 years ago, was and is offensive. Nobody – and I mean nobody – is dumb enough to use it. When Vincent was told that Lionel Ritchie, in a story told by Anthony, was not offended and in fact loved the Twins' show, he said "That doesn't matter. It's not OK. The com - munity at large has a problem with it." Judging by the sold out performances in Taunton and Woonsocket, though, I'd say maybe the community doesn't have a problem with it. The problem I have is that somebody – perhaps one per - son – was "concerned." This malignant boil likely erupted on social media. Gamm canceled a show that had no blackface (obviously) and no skin-darken- ing makeup at all! Gamm lost needed revenue; the Twins lost a gig. And for what? Or should I say, for whom? Welcome to the new America. The "tyranny of one." Offend an ignorant keyboard cowboy, and pay the price. Last week, Ethan Shorey reported in The Breeze that the town of Cumberland would again challenge developer Jim McKee over his clear-cutting of land for Phase II of the Hidden Meadows development near Diamond Hill Reservoir. McKee is the brother of Lt. Governor Daniel McKee. A public meeting is scheduled for this Thursday, Dec. 13, at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall. It ought to be a doozie! The town and Mayor Bill Murray contend that McKee's Terrapin Development is rou - tinely in violation of rules set forth by the Planning Board. Murray claims, for instance, that McKee clear-cut far too much land in his High Ridge develop - ment a few years ago, and now he's at it again. Said Murray last week, "( Jim) McKee's history in Cumberland is to act first 'and then challenge it.'" McKee's attorney, Michael Kelly, counters that town offi - cials have "no clue" in under- standing their own regulations. Murray has worked diligently in his four years as mayor to rein in what he sees as develop - ment activity that's detrimental to both the environment and home buyers. I expect his lead- ership on this will continue with new Mayor Jeff Mutter. The lousy test results for Rhode Island school children in Grades 3-8 gives an opening to Lt. Governor Dan McKee to speak more boldly about education. He should, and will. The Providence Journal, on its editorial page recently, ripped the education establishment. But per usual, nobody will lose their jobs; nobody will be held accountable. Unions will remain in charge. Kids will suffer. Gov. Gina Raimondo is saying little beyond pointless platitudes. And then there is the P.R. challenge to Cumberland, where school officials constantly point out how local taxpayers are the cheapest in the state. Still, Cumberland students test - ed very well. Congratulations are in order for the town's teachers at the elementary and middle schools. Well done! Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze The Edwards Twins face the tyranny of 1 From the Publisher TOM WARD Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally owned and operated group of free weekly newspa- pers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 60,000+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. Thomas V. Ward, Publisher James Quinn, Deputy Publisher Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor Doug Fabian, General Sales Manager Barbara Phinney, Controller Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume XXI, Number 20 December 12, 2018 @ Breeze THE NORTH PROVIDENCE

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