Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 05-23-2019

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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12 OPINION MAY 23-29, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER EDITION Earlier this month a debate ensued around the issue of school lunches. Initially, the City of Warwick School Committee decided to provide only sun butter and jelly sand- wiches to children whose parents did not pay the requisite fee for school lunches. Mind you, all these parents have the wherewithal to pay, other- wise their children, if low income, would get free lunches. Instead, the par- ents are scofflaws who are looking for something for nothing. The School Committee was chastised for shaming the children and it soon reversed itself. Clearly, it is the better part of valor not to put children in the middle of a dispute. Further, it potentially could provoke bullying so removing this "stigma" was important to do. This situation, however, is eas- ily handled without putting the children at risk. School lunch agreements should provide for payment plus, in the case of an unexcused payment(s), interest and attorney fees should be recouped if collection has to be initiated. Sue the miscreants. Yet, the entire issue of "squeezing out" more free- bies is important to discuss. Do we develop a mental- ity that things are "owed" to us when we shrug off non-compliance? A trove of research suggests "yes." The more folks get things for free; even more benefits are expected by them as a "right." Equally troubling is the prospect that folks devalue things that are free. With "free college," for example, do students study less hard than their parents or grand- parents who had to work to pay tuition? Do we set these young adults on a clear path to continue to seek something for noth- ing as they get older? In effect, are we inadvertently developing a mentality of entitlement given the wide exposure of a life lived on other peoples' dimes as evidenced by their parents and their own experience? I know this sounds nos- talgic but I salute the days where my generation and that of my parents always had "the right change for the bus." Nothing was pur- chased until the money was saved. It was unthinkable that anyone else should bear the brunt of personal bills. Today, however, it is "de rigeur" for more and more folks to expect "ben- nies" at the expense of unrelated people. Of course, I am talk- ing about sincerely taking into consideration folks' resources. Pell grants are awarded to worthy students who are too indigent to pay for a college. Universities routinely award scholar- ships to needy students in accordance with their needs. In Rhode Island, however, it somehow became virtuous to allow everybody, regardless of how much money their parents have, to get a free college education. In fact, the governor aims to extend free tuition to Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island. The underbelly of this largess, however, is the cost to many who are on fixed income and in minimum wage jobs. Some of the least able folks economi- cally are being tapped to pay tuitions of children whose parents can afford it or their school lunches. What's wrong with this pic- ture? Rhode Island is well along the path of being a welfare state, particularly for those who don't qualify for the status and those who are special interest members. It's insane to continue this public dole. Violet is an attorney and for- mer state attorney general. Why are we giving much away? I thought it was very disheartening to read last week that persons had come forward in opposition to the renaming of North Cumberland Middle School in honor of Richard B. Lynch, the 46-year educator who died March 6. Lynch was a coach, NCAA basket- ball referee, and the first-ever principal at NCMS, going on to serve as principal of the town's high school, and then as superintendent in Smithfield. His record of service was impeccable, except for one moment in time when America was just beginning the conversation about gay rights. Back in 1980, even before the AIDS epidemic, a young man named Aaron Fricke, a CHS senior, "came out" and asked to bring his part- ner to the CHS prom. The high school, with Lynch as its leader, told Fricke he was violating the rules and could not go. Fricke took the School Department to court, and won. In what became a national story, the School Department was made to not only allow Fricke to attend, but had to make sure he, his partner, and all of the attend- ees were kept safe. I was a photographer at The Call back then, and I did not cover that prom. But I recall it was a very big deal, media wise. So let's think this out. Does this mean Mr. Dick Lynch, beloved 46-year educator, was homophobic? Is that what detractors are claim- ing? Do they know this for certain? Or was Lynch just applying the rules, circa 1980, set by a School Committee elected by the townspeople? Was Lynch supposed to see past that day and into the future, when people would become far more accepting of young gays and lesbians? In 1980, most people in this and every town in Rhode Island considered young Fricke a troublemaker. Today, we see him for what he was: a very courageous young man who was well ahead of his time in fighting for gay rights for himself and others. I think it's perverse and unfair to judge people from long ago using the values of today, applying more just and enlightened standards of conduct to persons and events of 30, 50 or 100 years ago. Virtually all of us do the best we can in the times we live in. Few are courageous when it comes to civil rights. Slowly, but only slowly, America gets better. Fricke was part of our nation's grow- ing up. Last week we reported that writers on a PTO page believed "the entire body of a principal's work should be looked at when considering (the school naming). Lynch's involvement with the famous case Fricke vs. Lynch, in which Aaron Fricke, the Cumberland High School teenager who wanted to bring a male friend to prom, challenged Lynch's denial of the request based on safety concerns and ultimately won, is reason enough not to name the school after him, said one member." I could not disagree more with persons who feel this way. Are we now to expect perfection from our lead- ers – school and otherwise? Are we so intolerant and judgmental that a person's stellar 46-year career is to be cast aside because a few people are offended by a single event? Is that who we are now? The Lynch family has asked that the request be taken back for the time being, appealing for a bit more time to pass. Under the circumstances, I can't blame them. A few years ago, Cumberland went through a similar situation when attempts were made to name the Cumberland Hill School after lifelong resident and philanthropist John J. McLaughlin. Some thought that McLaughlin, the founder of McLaughlin and Moran Budweiser distributors, should not have the school named after him because, well, he sold beer. Soon enough, we got over it. I hope we quickly get past any reservations about Dick Lynch. He deserves a school naming as much as – or more than – anyone else in this town's history. Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze Name school for Lynch Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET From the Publisher TOM WARD Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume LXIV, Number 12 May 23, 2019 valleybreeze.com @ Observer THE VALLEY BREEZE & 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, 58,500+ 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 tward@valleybreeze.com James Quinn, Deputy Publisher jquinn@valleybreeze.com Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com

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