Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 11-20-2019

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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NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | NOVEMBER 20-26, 2019 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 11 Field trip policy reiterates right to free and equal public education There has been a lot of hand-wring- ing among R.I. school officials over an advisory opinion issued in April by former education commissioner Ken Wagner. The advisory reminded school districts that they may not legally require families to pay for field trips undertaken on school time and with school staff or resources. We want to set the record straight: Wagner's advisory does nothing more than reiterate a basic principle under- lying the right to a free and equal public education. It has been longstanding policy and law in R.I. that schools may not charge students for programs and ser- vices lest they discriminate between those who can and cannot pay. This commitment to equity in public edu- cation, and a corresponding refusal to allow a two-tier educational system, has been confirmed decade after decade for over a century by state education commissioners, boards of education and at least one court deci- sion. Unfortunately, a misconception exists that the recent advisory requires canceling field trips and/or banning donations to fund them. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the advisory opinion makes clear that districts may continue to fund field trips through their annual budget and through fundraising – includ- ing donations by parents. The only thing that is prohibited is requiring particular fees or fundraising quotas from students in order to participate in school field trips. Simply put, schools may not leave behind children who cannot pay for a field trip, nor can they put families in the stigmatizing position of seek- ing fee waivers in order to have their child attend. As RIDE noted over a decade ago, "Even a complete waiver of a fee in the case of a poor fam- ily puts that family in the distressing position of having to ask for charity to obtain a public service. Slightly better off families who would not qualify for a complete or partial fee waiver will be forced to choose between needed family expenditures and the payment of school fees." Schools remain free to ask par- ents to make donations toward the cost of a trip, and if they can afford it, parents can continue to do so as if the school's policy had never changed. Commissioner Wagner's advisory merely reaffirms Rhode Island's commitment to equity in our public schools. Taxpayer resources in the form of staff time and school time should not be used to subsi- dize enriching experiences for those who can afford to pay while leaving behind lower-income children – who are frequently in greatest need of such enrichment activities and who are stigmatized by the very act of being left behind. The Johns Hopkins report on the structural inadequacies of the Providence school system demon- strates that many inequities remain in providing education to students in our state. The commissioner's advisory on field trips addresses one small, but important, aspect of this problem, and should be commended, not denounced, if we truly believe in a free and equal public education. VERONIKA KOT Staff attorney at R.I. Legal Services STEVEN BROWN Executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island IN BRIEF Warm Hearts Warm Coats Day Nov. 29 PAWTUCKET – Warm Hearts Warm Coats Day will take place on Friday, Nov. 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Salvation Army, 102 High St. Collection of coats is going on now through Monday, Nov. 25. Right now they are looking for new or gently used winter outerwear for all age groups, especially children's coats. Hats, scarves and gloves are also wel- come. Drop-off spots are located around the area, including all Pawtucket branches of Pawtucket Credit Union, Pawtucket Public Library, the Winter Farmers Market at Hope Artist Village and the Attorney General's office, through Monday, Nov. 18. Go to http:/www.neighborhoodlink. com/NAP-_Neighborhood_Alliance_ of_Pawtucket/home for an updated list. Books Are Wings will be handing out books at the event. Volunteers are needed to sort coats into sizes on Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 12:30 to 4 p.m. shifts) and to help at the event. Contact Arthur Plitt at kingarthu- if interested in volunteering. got a news tip? Call Ethan at 401-334-9555, ext. 130 or e-mail it to Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor are welcome from readers. Please: • Limit to 500 words. Longer letters may appear online only. • Letters on local or state topics and issues will take precedence over those on national issues. • No more than one letter per person every 8 weeks, please. • All letters must be signed and include a hometown. Send by e-mail to:, or mail to The Valley Breeze, 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite 204, Lincoln, RI 02865. PREMATURE CONCLUSIONS If a baby tooth were to be lost prematurely, a parent may find little sense in becoming too concerned, "because it was going to fall out anyway." However, the fault with this line of thinking rests with the possibility that adjacent baby teeth may move in to fill the gap left by the lost baby tooth, thereby blocking the emergence of the permanent tooth lying beneath it. Conversely, a baby tooth that takes too long to fall out may cause the corresponding permanent tooth to come in crooked. With these potential outcomes in mind, parents should have their children's baby teeth checked regularly to ensure that they will not negatively affect the alignment of future permanent teeth. The importance of baby teeth cannot be understated, just as conscientious dental care should not be overlooked. Let DENTAL ARTS GROUP, A Collaborative Practice Committed to Excellence, help promote your children's healthy mouth and brilliant smile. Taught early enough about the importance of taking care of their teeth, children can learn to make a habit of daily brushing and flossing. We have convenient office hours at 1136 Hartford Ave., Johnston; please call 401-521- 3661. P.S. If a baby tooth is lost too early, aside from causing serious crowding problems for the developing adult teeth, the loss can negatively impact the child's jaw muscle and bone development. W inter B all Solstice Ball • Company Party 2044 Smith Street, North Providence, RI 231-2370 • Tis the Season to be Jolly & Smart... 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