Category Archives: InCity Voices

Putting the skids on “The Summer Slide”

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

Summer slide! It sounds like a new ride at Six Flags or Coco Keys. Unfortunately, it is the gradual erosion of the academic skills students gained during the school year over the summer. Thoughts of math, science and reading are replaced by swimming, hanging out with friends, playing video games and going to the beach. In the case of those students with limited English skills, many lose their newly acquired words. Often, it is the students who can least afford to lose the reading gains they’ve achieved during the school year who fall the farthest behind when they return to the classroom after a summer vacation.

One of the initiatives my wife, Anne Marie and I have put together to prevent student’s falling behind is the “Worcester: the City that Reads” Committee, a committee whose goal is to address the needs of literacy in the city. One of our programs has been to collect recreational reading books and put them into the hands of our children. Already we have collected over 20,000 books for our children. This will enable children from lower socio-economic back-ground to have access to books. It is the lack of books in the child’s home that poses the greatest barrier to achieving literacy. We hope to put those books into the hands of the children in the Worcester Public Schools during the week of June 7th -as we celebrate “Literacy Week in our Community.”

A recent study by Johns Hopkins University adds to the mounting evidence of the “Summer Slide.” Poor students start out behind middle-class students and fall behind each year. Most of that loss occurs when school is out. Continue reading Putting the skids on “The Summer Slide”

A happy ending!

By Deirdre Healy

The morning of May 12 dawned like any other day here in the city of Worcester, with children going to school and people off to work. In one corner of the city, however, a little drama was about to unfold which would touch many lives for years to come. An animal hoarder under court order to remove a large quantity of cats from a third floor apartment was about to be visited by law enforcement and animal control officers to assure compliance with that court order.

Animal hoarders aren’t cruel, mean-spirited people; instead, they usually have some psychological need or dependency which the animals seem to fill. Hoarders keep a higher than usual number of animals without having the ability to properly house or care for them. The animals often suffer from malnourishment, neglect and overcrowding. The health of the people living near or with the hoarder can also suffer, due to the lack of veterinary care the animals receive and the lack of sanitation.
Hoarding knows no social or economic boundaries and can be found in cities, towns or rural areas. Continue reading A happy ending!

Are there no city pools this summer in Worcester?

By Pablo Soto

My name is Pablo Soto. I am 15 years old and I live on Hope Avenue. But I was raised in the Green Island neighborhood. I attend Fanning Learning Center but my home school is South High, which I will be attending next fall. When I was younger, I never really worried about there not being pools in the summer. All I hear from the younger kids when I’m at Crompton Park is “I heard there’s going to be no pools this summer?” To be honest, I personally do not use the public pools for personal reasons but when I was younger I went every day in the summer. I remember waking up on hot, sticky, humid summer mornings feeling like I was going to explode from the heat.

I feel horrible that the kids in the neighborhood that I grew up in are not going to have a pool to go swimming in the summer. I learned how to swim in Crompton and Vernon pool, mostly Crompton because Vernon was always packed. So I walked down to Crompton. Now children are not going to be able to learn how to swim in their own neighborhood. Pools are something everybody looks forward to in the summer. Maybe the rich families that own their own pools don’t really look forward to them, but the less fortunate do.

Without the pools, kids are most likely to get into a lot of trouble because of the lack of activites to do. I understand that Vernon is going to be rebuilt but it’s going to be the only pool for like three districts, meaning the Vernon is going to be packed. The pools that are planned to be closed down are located in the poorest neighborhoods in the city. People in these communities need these resources in their communities for many reasons. Youth entertain themselves being at the pool, it’s were a lot of first time experiences can happen. It’s another way from staying away from unsafe activities, such as fights, gang violence, drugs etc. Having lifeguards isn’t the issue because I know many youths willing to work as a lifeguard for the pools.

When people think of summertime in the Worcester neighborhoods, the first thing to come to mind is the pools. When I grow up and I have my children I would like them to experience what I did with the pools. I think it’s wrong to end the tradition of the pools now and put in spray parks. Spray parks seem more unsafe and less satisfactory. Spray parks are going to be slippery, unsafe and unsupervised, which is a set up for destruction.

Meet your meat!

By Paula Moore

Molly the cow had big dreams—and they didn’t involve buns or barbecue sauce.

With “barbecue season” officially here, Molly’s story is a gentle reminder that the animals on our plates were once inquisitive individuals who valued their lives, solved problems, formed friendships and experienced fear and pain—just as we do. And it’s also a good reason to skip the hamburger patties and grill up delicious veggie burgers instead.
Molly gained fame earlier this month when she broke through a fence at a slaughterhouse in Queens, N.Y., and made a bold dash for freedom. She led slaughterhouse workers and police on a mile-long chase through city streets before she was finally caught.

Her chutzpah paid off. Instead of being taken back to the slaughterhouse, Molly was turned over to local animal-care workers. Now Molly has a new home (a 60-acre organic farm on Long Island) and a new “boyfriend” (a steer on the farm named Wexley). Continue reading Meet your meat!

Big biz?

By Richard Schmitt

The Boston Globe reports that big business has recently begun to cooperate with President Barack Obama and his team. The CEO of Dow Chemical praises the president’s efforts to control carbon emissions. The healthcare industry is joining Sen. Kennedy to write a healthcare reform bill. The financial services industry is cooperating with representative Barney Frank in regulating banks and other financial institutions.

What a change! In the early 1990s President Bill Clinton and First Lady, now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton developed a grand scheme to reform health care for all Americans. The goal was to make sure that everyone had health insurance and that the cost of healthcare would be under control. A coalition of physicians, hospitals, health insurance companies and drug companies mounted a major campaign and shot down that project. With evidence of global warming growing steadily, the government has been trying to regulate carbon emissions and has met with unbending opposition from chemical companies as well as car manufacturers. Banks, mortgage companies, hedge funds have used their access to the then Republican dominated Congress to loosen restraints on the industry. We now experience the effect of this deregulation in the current economic crisis. For a while they made money hand over fist. Now ordinary Americans have to pay the price. Continue reading Big biz?

Pet peeves

By Jack Hoffman

I was sitting alone in a restaurant not so long ago when I noticed two lovely co-eds next to me conversing at a speed faster than Don Garlitz’s dragster. What was unusual: both were gabbing away at each other while one girl was text messaging. My curiosity got me to ask the texter: did you understand anything your friend just said? – No – “In any case, if she wanted to say something to me, she could have text [ed] me,” the co-ed said.

Next puzzling incident: I’m standing in a bakery, hoping to be waited on soon. The salesgirl was too busy texting away while I tapped my nails away. May I ask you: what’s more important than waiting on a customer? Continue reading Pet peeves

Undocumented workers

By Richard Schmitt

May 1 has come to be one of the days when the advocates of undocumented workers demonstrate their support for immigrants. It is also a day for their opponents — mostly persons who feel threatened by the job competition of the immigrants — to emphasize that the immigrants are here illegally.

Alan Greenspan, for many years the head of the Federal Reserve and now, in his retirement, the grand old man of the business elite of this country, used the occasion to declare that “illegal immigration has made a significant attribution to US economic growth by providing a flexible workforce.”

Translate that into English: businesses can pay undocumented workers very low wages. That saves them money. It also allows them to pay less to American workers because there is always a threat of being replaced by the undocumented low-wage workers. Undocumented workers have no protection from laws or from unions. You can hire and fire them at will. Continue reading Undocumented workers

Change the future of a Worcester child!

By Celia Gnoza

Did you ever want to be a hero? Did you ever wonder if you could ever make a difference in this world? Well you can! Anyone can be a hero by becoming a Foster Parent. Some of the greatest champions in our city are every day people who have chosen to foster children in the care of the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
It’s about caring for a child in need and extending love to a human being
Many of the children come with a history of trauma and the difference you can make is huge.

There are currently many children in the Worcester area alone who are living in foster care. We need your help to provide these children with a safe and loving home.

While it is often the case that children twelve years of age and older wait longer than their younger peers to find an adoptive family, these children never give up hope for a permanent home. Within just the past six months, the Central DCF Region has legalized the adoptions of five children, all placed as teenagers with non-related families. Here are there stories.

Before reaching 15, Tashanna’s birth mother had died and her three younger siblings had been adopted. She always wanted a family but knew that her photo that appeared in the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) manual drew few inquiries. During the spring of 2007, an adoptive couple with no previous children saw her picture in pre-adoptive training and said it was love at first sight.” Tashanna’s adoption worker, her therapist and members from the couple’s church helped to support the placement. The family encouraged Tashanna’s passions and interests while simultaneously introducing her to new opportunities. Tashanna is a well accomplished 16 year old whose parents are so proud that when they talk about her with others, they often well up with tears of joy. Continue reading Change the future of a Worcester child!

The Worcester Police Dept. investigates itself

By Ronald O’Clair

I thought that you would be interested to know the outcome of the Worcester Police Department investigation into my complaint – an account was published in the February 13 – 26 issue of InCity Times.
As I knew before filing the complaint, the charges against both officers involved were declared “not sustained” and “unfounded” in the letter the Chief of Police sent me to inform me of the resolution of my “case.”
I had three witnesses, besides myself, and though they were not exactly stellar witnesses, they do hear and see well enough that they saw and heard what they did.

No matter how many indignant citizens complain to the WPD’s “Bureau of Professional Standards,” the result is the same, time after time: “unfounded” or “not sustained.”

That is why I think that the Chief is so reluctant to release the records that the public has a right to be informed about. He does not want to let the people see how one-sided the so-called investigations are being conducted so that the police department can retain what shreds of dignity it has left, which are not many if you ask me. …

It really is not very funny when an injustice happens to you at the hands of those who are sworn under oath of office to “serve and protect” your rights as a citizen of the City of Worcester.

It is not funny when you take the time to protest the injustice, only to have them white-wash the incident to make it appear that the officers acted responsibly and in a professional manner, when any fool can see that they did not, and do not practice these policies on a daily basis here in the inner-city around the P.I.P. shelter. Continue reading The Worcester Police Dept. investigates itself

Goodbye, GM

By Michael Moore

June 1, 2009

I write this on the morning of the end of the once-mighty General Motors. By high noon, the President of the United States will have made it official: General Motors, as we know it, has been totaled.

As I sit here in GM’s birthplace, Flint, Michigan, I am surrounded by friends and family who are filled with anxiety about what will happen to them and to the town. Forty percent of the homes and businesses in the city have been abandoned. Imagine what it would be like if you lived in a city where almost every other house is empty. What would be your state of mind?

It is with sad irony that the company which invented “planned obsolescence” — the decision to build cars that would fall apart after a few years so that the customer would then have to buy a new one — has now made itself obsolete. It refused to build automobiles that the public wanted, cars that got great gas mileage, were as safe as they could be, and were exceedingly comfortable to drive. Oh — and that wouldn’t start falling apart after two years. GM stubbornly fought environmental and safety regulations. Its executives arrogantly ignored the “inferior” Japanese and German cars, cars which would become the gold standard for automobile buyers. And it was hell-bent on punishing its unionized workforce, lopping off thousands of workers for no good reason other than to “improve” the short-term bottom line of the corporation. Continue reading Goodbye, GM