Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 04-01-2021

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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8 OPINION APRIL 1-7, 2021 | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER EDITION With all the hullabaloo surrounding the recent influx of immigrants at the southern border, I thank my lucky stars that I was born here. Guatemala, and Honduras, from where many immigrants have traveled, are hotbeds of human rights violations and murder of citizens. Children are recruited into "armies," which terrorize the inhabitants. Corruption abounds in every branch of government so victims have no legal recourse. I would be among the first to try to immigrate here or at least send my children so they could have a better life. Even migrants who come to work here legally con- tinue to be treated like dirt. "Somos esenciales" is a double-edged sword; on the one hand it acknowledges the economic role that migrants play while a sword hangs over their heads to keep them on the job with little protections. In March 2020 then-President Donald Trump declared them essential workers so the farm workers had to be working, often with little health protection. Farm after farm staffed by at least half of who are undocu- mented workers offered below average salaries to this workforce. Living conditions were unsanitary with many of them living in dormitories. Many suc- cumbed to the coronavirus since a complaint would get the worker deported. Silence compounded the risk of transmitting the virus since supervisors didn't care if the migrant had it or not as long as they worked. Even when a mas- sive pandemic outbreak occurred as it did at Primex Farms, a nut-packing facil- ity, so many people fell ill that the employees finally resorted to a strike. What did they get for that effort? They were allowed to bring in masks or purchase them from Primex for $8 apiece. Adding insult to injury the migrants have no pro- tections. They are ineligible for unemployment insur- ance even though they pay taxes. Health insurance is non-existent. These farm workers and domestics were excluded from pro- tections against unfair labor practices. Those who crossed the Rio Grande to enter this country lived in unregulated work camps. Some Americans object to the entry of immigrants because of the fear that they bring disease. The truth is that the living and working conditions estab- lished by the American bosses precipitate the ill- nesses. So, as Americans all get sanctimonious about the influx of "these people" they have no further to look than the silent acqui- escence to the very condi- tions that keep the migrants on the job so Mr. and Mrs. America can be fed. Ironically, the very act of ignoring the plight of immi- grants precipitates the very real result of the spread of the pandemic. One reckoning that the United States still needs to have is how our policies of support for despot govern- ments has precipitated the exodus from these Central American countries. Were we more just folks would be able to have the "American Dream" on their own turf. During my episodic time in Central America I never found anyone who would not have preferred to stay with their family and kin but for the oppression in that country. Immigration reform hasn't been on the front burner since the time of the Ronald Reagan presidency. Congress needs to cease demonizing immigrants and those in the opposite party and get to work to remedi- ate the problem now. Violet is an attorney and for- mer state attorney general. I'm glad I'm not a new immigrant By ERIKA SANZI While state legislatures around the country move toward funding students instead of systems, the Rhode Island legislature is working to further limit educational options for the state's families. Charter schools are the only form of educational freedom that low-income parents have in our state, and by passing a three-year moratorium, our Senate just greased the skids to severely limit access to them. Not only does the moratorium prohibit any new charters from opening, but it retroactively puts the brakes on new schools and expansions that have already been approved by the state Board of Education. Rhode Island Democrats, with few exceptions, oppose all forms of school choice for low- income families. They throw around words such as privatiza- tion in their attempts to vilify any attempt to disentangle a child's education from their residential address. Providence Teachers Union president Maribeth Calabro used the word repeatedly this past Monday in an effort to impugn the integrity of our Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. But charter schools are public schools. I think we are seeing the Ocean State's version of the iconic scene in "The Princess Bride" when Inigo Montoya tells the evil Vizzini, "you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Are the Providence schools "privatized" because they have contracts with private textbook companies and food service providers? But let's talk about this priva- tization boogie man that our virtuous public servants find so very problematic because, as it turns out, they actually have no problem with it. The Rhode Island legislature allows public dollars to be spent on private (and religious!) pre-K. And I have never heard them get up on a soapbox to condemn the use of Pell Grants to private (and religious) universities. They even support allowing people with housing vouchers to choose where to live and those on food assistance to decide whether to shop at Stop & Shop, Market Basket, Price Rite or wherever else they may choose. All are examples of public money flowing to private enti- ties. But, due to obvious cognitive dissonance and union influence, these same public ser- vants oppose low-income constituents having any agency or autonomy when it comes to the education of their children between kindergarten and 12th grade. They do not believe that parents deserve the self- determination that comes with having options (unless they have money to pick schools via the real estate market or send their children to private school on their own dime). The vast majority of Rhode Island resi- dents can't afford to do either of those things. So it is pretty grotesque that charter schools, the only schooling alternative avail- able to low income families in Rhode Island, are now under attack. Remember that Johns Hopkins report on the Providence schools that sent shockwaves through the national media showing it to be, arguably, the worst and most dysfunctional school sys- tem in the country? The char- ter schools that the legislature hopes to block from opening and/or expanding would large- ly serve Providence students. The senator on the committee who represents Providence pre- dictably opted out of the public system for her own children and put them in one of the most expensive private schools in the state. But, like so many "choice for me, not for thee" types, she does not believe that the low-income parents in the city she represents deserve to have any options. At the end of the day, the majority of our General Assembly believe that school districts, regardless of perfor- mance, are entitled to other people's children because of the dollars that attach to those children. They want a monopoly. Parents don't. One saving grace is that Gov. McKee testified against the bill and has said he'll likely veto it if it comes across his desk. Thank God for that. Sanzi is the director of outreach at Parents Defending Education and a former educator and school committee member. She writes at Limiting options for parents is wrong Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET SANZI Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume LXVI, Number 5 April 1, 2021 @ 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. James Quinn, Publisher Jack Birolini, Director of Sales Ethan Shorey, Editor-in-Chief Barbara Phinney, Controller

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