Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 10-31-2019

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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14 OPINION OCTOBER 31-NOVEMBER 6, 2019 | BREEZE & OBSERVER | SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER On Oct. 22, state Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green released standardized test results for Rhode Island students that should turn a lot of faces red. While ostensibly the test results show a slight improvement from the first year scores, the commissioner noted that the gains were expected as students became more familiar with the test. The reality is that about four out of 10 students met or exceeded expectations in English and only 30 percent did so in math. There were a few bright spots with the Cumberland school sys- tem showing even stronger progress than a good start last year. Regrettably, the Central Falls school system again ranked last while low income area schools in Providence, Pawtucket and Woonsocket also scraped the bottom rung in perfor- mance. By the time you read this, I predict that teacher union leaders will rain a chorus of blame onto everybody else's but their own shortcomings. The National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI), for example, boo-hooed last year's results between Massachusetts and Rhode Island by cit- ing incorrectly an alleged discrepancy in salaries and benefits paid to teachers. NEA also trotted out a video claiming that mental health issues and student hunger are to blame for the poor results in urban areas, yet students' scores in Massachusetts' poor neigh- borhood schools trounced those of their counterparts in Rhode Island. Parents, no doubt, will also be maligned as being uncaring. The reality is that some teacher contracts are sweetheart deals without much accountability. In Providence, there was a 2018 study which docu- mented that 58 percent of teachers were chronically absent. The "chronic" defi- nition meant that they were out for 11 or more days. You don't need to be a Mensa candidate to realize that this is the major reason for the lack of classroom continuity. Children sit in "study halls" because there aren't enough substitute teachers to fill the gap. Rather than jaw-boning with all the excuses known to mankind, union honchos should agree to eliminate such a provision. So, now we have a com- missioner of education who thus far has said all the right things about reform. Now she will have to produce results. How well she does her job is dependent upon her "real" boss, Gov. Gina Raimondo, who appointed her. The freedom or lack thereof for Ms. Infante- Green to make meaningful changes will be a bell-weath- er of the governor's future political plans. Efforts may be dialed down if the gover- nor is looking for union sup- port for a higher office. The Providence Journal had a recent insightful editorial which focused on the "five- year timetable" adopted thus far by state and city leaders. The writer correctly noted that the governor will be long gone by that time since she is term lim- ited. Her fingerprints won't be on any delay. Further, the timeframe tempts the unions to put the brakes on reform by lobbying wanna-be candidates for state and Providence offices respectively. Future gover- nors or city leaders would be in a position to give the commissioner the heave-ho before the time frame is up. Citizens should insist that the time-frame parallel those office-holders now – and certainly not more than three years. The RICAS test results are in. It is time to see reform now! Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general. 5 years too long to measure progress It's good that public officials in Woonsocket and North Smithfield are complaining bitterly to the state and R.I. Dept. of Transportation about the deplorable road conditions on Route 146, from I-295 to the 146-136A split two miles to the north. That's how DOT comes to deci- sions: Who is the squeakiest wheel? I've seen it time and time again; road projects moved forward by years for no apparent reason beyond politics. In the case of the mess and potholes along Route 146 – made fun of periodi- cally by the owners of the sign at The Ski Shop Plus – the state now says they'll get to the repairs in 2024, five long years away. No, I don't think so. The state must do better than that. Keep squeaking, everyone. The governor's phone num- ber is 222-2080. Give her a buzz. Regulate blasting! And while we're com- plaining, what in the world is being allowed to go on at the construction site on Cobble Hill Road in Lincoln? The 27-home development has taken three years so far, and the ledge-filled site requires blasting that not only rocks the neighbors, but spreads huge clouds of dust far and wide. A photo was provided to us by neighbor Joanmarie O'Neill, and what it shows is outrageous! Nobody should be made to live like that. And for three years? Said O'Neill in our story last week: "This summer was relentless. Anyone who planned anything outdoors, forget it," she said, scrolling through photos of dirt set- tling in her pool after the blasts, and videos showing her neighbors' homes disap- pearing behind a cloud of dust as the ledge was blown apart." Get to work, state Fire Marshal's Office! (Sort of) Girls' sports If you want to understand the confusing ruination of society by progressive politics, look no further than girls' high school sports. Ever since Title IX, female athletes had to be treated equally to boys in sports and teams funded by tax- payers. (That's not the ruin- ation ... that was fairness, and progress.) We are now off the rails, however, as we take biologi- cal males who identify as a transgender woman and declare them women, all to feel just so "woke" and modern. The problem is obvious, and any damned fool can see it coming. Girls are los- ing. As many of you have read by now, two once- male runners – high school juniors Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood – are continuing to dominate high school girls' track in Connecticut. "We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it's demoralizing," said Selina Soule, a girl. Yeah, Selina, no kidding. A biologically male cyclist, Rachel McKinnon, won a women's world champion- ship – a sprint event – Oct. 19. In New Hampshire, once-male runner CeCe Telfer, who identifies as a transgender woman, won an NCAA Division II national championship for Franklin Pierce University in spring. And in Montana last week, the University of Montana named June Eastwood, last year a young man, the cross-country female athlete of the week. Let's just point out the obvious irony. This is a "War on Women's Sports" by the progressive left – Democrats all – and parents of girls may be too scared to push back for fear of being labeled and bullied. Progressive politics is ruin- ing girls' sports. When this splashes on the shores of Rhode Island, our politi- cians will be either in sup- port, or far too afraid to push back. Sorry, girls, you lose. - Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze. Keep pushing for needed upgrades on Route 146 From the Publisher TOM WARD Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume LXIV, Number 35 October 31, 2019 valleybreeze.com @ Observer THE VALLEY BREEZE & 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. 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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