Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 09-11-2019

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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18 OPINION SEPTEMBER 11-17, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION Until last week, I had never heard of Antonio Brown. Then, out of nowhere, his name was everywhere I turned. My family – three sons and a husband – watches a good amount of football but I would not call myself a fan. Sure I root for the Patriots, but I do not have enough knowledge or interest to say whether Bill Belichick's decision to sign Brown was or was not the right thing to do. I do know that behavior and attitude can change drasti - cally when expectations are higher, structure is stepped up, and discipline is a top priority. There is a reason why "problem students" some - times cease to be so when they are able to move to a different school or even into a different classroom. Environment matters. Culture is everything. Brown's behavior on his previous NFL teams has been indefensible – sports writer Dan Shaugnessy of the Boston Globe describes him as "the best receiver in the NFL and an egoma - niacal misfit who acted his way out of Pittsburgh and Oakland in the last six months." There have been a lot of brilliant and massively tal - ented kids who have acted their way out of schools and off teams only to see themselves transformed by the right leader in a new and different environment. Some have found it in the military, others in a new school, and still others on the field with a new coach. I don't have much of a dog in the fight over whether or not the Patriots should or should not have signed Brown to a one year deal. But I do find the chatter surrounding it reflective of where the larger culture seems to be these days. America appears to be wrestling with the concept of writing people off versus believ - ing in second chances. It is a common refrain that "Americans love a comeback story" and that was certainly on display recently when, after a very public fall from grace, Tiger Woods won The Masters in what many characterized as a '"come - back for the ages." But as polarization increases its reach, it sometimes feels like we are losing our foot - ing when it comes to the possibility for redemption. Instead of believing in the principle of second – or even third – chances, we seem to be falling into a tribalism that causes us to have different stan- dards for people based on which side or whose team they're on. We are quick to overlook and forgive the people we consider to be in our tribe and equally quick to lower the boom on those we see as being outside of our tribe. Patriots Nation will gloat, Patriots haters will hate even harder. But in the story of Antonio Brown I see a bigger story, a story about all the brilliance and talent inside of countless young people who just need to find their way to the people and places who will help them shine. Brown is not a kid. He is a grown man being paid millions of dollars to perform on a football team. There is no excuse for his antics in Oakland and Pittsburgh. Maybe he will fall in line with the Patriots and maybe he won't. What I do know is that it is possible. Erika Sanzi is a former edu - cator and school committee member who writes about education and blogs at Good School Hunting. Larger lessons in the story of Antonio Brown While I'm still unsure if driving "the beast" (our new RV) will be my cup of tea on any really long- distance trips, my wife and I had a nice vacation in the Canadian Maritimes these past two weeks. I'd like to thank Erika Sanzi for adding her insights to this page while I was away. This week, Erika is here again, giving Arlene Violet the week off. Her topic – better education – just hap - pens to be perfectly timed for the beginning of the school year. You'll be see- ing more of Erika's work in the months ahead. While I was away: • Work by Red Oak Remodeling, of Coventry, was finishing up on reno- vations to the building that houses the Looff Carousel in Pawtucket's Slater Park. The results are beauti - ful, and should keep the carousel safe and dry for decades to come. The grand re-opening will be held Friday at 6 p.m. For parents across northern Rhode Island, it's time to pack up the kids and bring them to the carousel again. • Speaking of education, a Wall Street Journal article Sept. 4 made it clear: In schools where kids are allowed to have their cell phones, the biggest distractions were caused by parents bugging their kids throughout the day. Parents claim to want to be able to reach their child in emergencies, but that's nonsense. Whatever happened to calling the school's office? In a test program last year in 13 classrooms, San Mateo High School in California began locking up cell phones for the day. Teachers noted kids more engaged in class and more social with each other at lunch. Things are better. This year, the entire school will do things this way. Honestly, you really don't need studies for this. It's common sense. (Also, I haven't done a study, but I'll bet bullying declines. You're welcome...) And yes, administrators might remind parents to leave their kids alone. Parents: For the day anyway, your kids don't need you, and don't want to hear from you. Their schooling is more important than hav - ing to deal with your tex- ting addiction. • Elon Musk is a genius. I get it. He's built a great electric car, and can make a rocket launcher float back to a platform in the ocean. His technology is remarkable. Still, I was more than a bit perturbed recently when he went to China for the 2019 World Artificial Intelligence Conference and said "China is the future" as he spoke glowingly of con - struction progress at his new "gigafactory." Indeed, it is amazing what a country can do with so many slaves. The facial recognition...Big Brother...the social credits to keep drones in line... Musk loves it! I'd have hoped for a bit more deference in that U.S. taxpayers have been subsidizing "tax credits" to keep Musk's electric cars – his toys for the rich – afloat. The $7,500 per car tax credit was born during the Obama stimulus plan in 2009, and it is set to expire. Senate lackeys want it to live forever, add - ing $16 billion to the debt (mostly to make politicians feel good about being "green.") We're being robbed. Musk is the robber; politi- cians buy his guns and ammo. Now he's overseas, with our money, kiss- ing the backsides of his Chinese overlords who will be stealing his technology. End the tax credits. Let's see how Musk does with - out subsidies. Real busi- ness, "the American way." Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze End our subsidies that keep Musk's cars afloat From the Publisher TOM WARD Schools of Thought ERIKA SANZI ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally operated group of free weekly newspapers 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. Volume XI, Number 4 September 11, 2019 valleybreeze.com @ Breeze THE VALLEY Thomas V. Ward, Publisher tward@valleybreeze.com James Quinn, Deputy Publisher jquinn@valleybreeze.com Jack Birolini, Director of Sales jack@valleybreeze.com Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com

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