What Do These Comments Say About Our Culture in Rhode Island?
It often seems like a culture of fear and intimidation pervades Rhode Island.
As I have spoken out publicly during my tenure on the East Greenwich School Committee and during the years since then, the single most frequent comment town residents have said to me was “We agree wholeheartedly with you but we cannot speak out publicly because we are afraid teachers and administrators will retaliate by treating our children unfairly.”
(All of this is quite ironic because one of the primary criticisms upon my appointment to the Committee centered on our children attending a private school. However, time has shown that the lack of involvement has liberated me and other people in similar situations to speak out.)
During the current teachers’ union contract stalemate in town, people have told me stories about how certain teachers – who are not supporting the hard union line – are being socially isolated by the hard line union supporters.
Now, after I emailed out yesterday’s posting which identified the many unanswered budget questions for the East Greenwich Fire District annual meeting next week, one town resident wrote back and said:
Years ago I heard that people do not show up to the Fire District Financial meeting is because they are afraid of retribution–may call for help/assistance and be refused because of their opposition to any increases. May or not be true, but if people feel that way, what can be done?
These are signs of a bad political culture, of preserving an under-performing culture which is dominated by special interests. These are signs of an establishment that is focused on maintaining the status quo – at all costs.
Fortunately, technology has enabled facts to become more broadly available to citizens in this state via blogsites and active citizens. The facts tell a damning story and it is liberating more and more people to speak out. Try as hard as they might – and even as they win short-term political victories – the defenders of the failing establishment cannot turn back the clock. That means they will only get more desperate over time as their ability to dictate outcomes weakens.
There is a budding revolution against those who protect the status quo to the detriment of working families and retirees across Rhode Island.
Now watch that revolution grow.