Schools, rules, and blues...
The good, the bad - and the ugly - this week.
The good, the bad - and the ugly.
Music in Rhode Island
Have you heard it? From street festivals to the biggies, The Newport Jazz Festival and The Newport Folk Festival - all in our little foot-stomping state. And this weekend, a 2 ½ day RI Blues Fest, The Blues Fest isn’t in Newport, or on a waterway, or in a beautiful park, but in Cranston on the grounds of Mulligans Island Golf between a prison and a highway. #RIBF is promising to be an amazing three days, with different bands on the hour, food trucks, and other features for good family fun. And we think that is pretty good about RI.
The schools in Providence will be “safe, clean and ready for the first day of school”, so say the new leaders at the helm. They are also making themselves accessible, doing one interview after the other with media, and saying the schools will be open for inspection on their preparedness. Other issues are beginning to be talked about - absenteeism (students - and - teachers), curriculum, discipline, a cell phone policy, etc. Imagine that - rules in school!
Nothing good happens after midnight.
Fairs, festivals, nightclubs and bars with late-late closing times of 1am or 2am, with alcohol as the center theme. Open air drinking, late nights, groups that trend younger, what could go wrong? Then let’s all get in our cars, prepared for deadly consequences. You can have a wonderful, enjoyable time with family and friends, without drinking or over-drinking - getting in fights with others, and even worse, getting on the highways. You can have a financially successful event, too. So, Providence, listen up - stop it - stop ruining the ability of people to enjoy their capital city. Lead the way, fix up Federal Hill, take back downtown Providence with events that don’t turn ugly after midnight.
Build a cell tower, ruin a forest. The efforts to build a cell tower in Cranston by cutting down a large swath of trees in pristine woods. This would displace wildlife - pushing them more and more into our residential neighborhoods and ruining a natural resource for hiking and enjoying nature right in our citified backyard. The Cranston City Council has stated that preserving this part of Cranston is a priority - after solar panel blight and other issues have drawn community groups to speak together on behalf of their city. And they mean it when they say declarations like this - except for when they don’t. Time and time again, the city opts for planning by zoning and master plan exemptions and variances. Of course, there must be other places. Who benefits by the insistence that it must go there, the way it’s planned? Ask the questions, Cranston.
The education fix.
Will what we have learned and addressed by “The Johns Hopkins Report” be extended to the rest of the state, whose test scores, and building conditions are also lacking? Will “the fix” be on the backs of teachers, and unions? Why, after literally decades did this one report ignite an overnight campaign to fix the schools - when even multiple deaths of children at DCYF didn’t ignite that department? Who funded the “report” and what is the agenda? What is the role, here, of charter schools, and Achievement First? Why is there a survey to test a new name for an independent school system, and fix-it campaign? Why has the new interim superintendent not talked to the new RI Commissioner? How did the new RI Commissioner not really know how bad Providence schools were when one of her family's closest friends is the fix-up person for the worst system in Rhode Island - Central Falls - the person she has now hired as her executive assistant? Parents are being invited to an “outside-only” clean-up party at select schools. As much as we want to think this is all a time of kumbaya to fix this education problem, we are leery of photo opps as strategy, and depend on savvy news reporters and interviewers to dig deeper - and assuage our natural skepticism - or not.
Shootings. One on top of the other. Our senses are reeling. We put our focus on things we think we can do that will make a difference. But in our hearts we know that the cat is out of the bag, the danger is so very real all around us. We heard today that young people aren’t enrolling in Providence colleges as much because they are - afraid - to come here. To Providence, Rhode Island? To the United States of America? No focus on outside forces can change what we have become - inside - in our hearts. Let each of us start in our homes - how we raise our children - the violence in our video games and television shows we sit our children in front of, the lack of family time and involved supervision, schools that fail our young people and promote a culture of disrespect and violence. Specialized mental health services in a failed mental health system; time and time again we hear that someone did see something and say something - and nothing happened. And yes, common sense restrictions on guns. But don’t think for a minute that banning assault weapons will make any perceivable difference. The root cause is much deeper. For today, let’s be vigilant, focus on safety, and safe situations, in our homes, schools, and out in our community.