Stay Home From School

Better questions for the article (“Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline: Springfield reduces in-school arrests, but is it enough?”, March 30-April 5, 2017) would have been: Why were the students arrested? Did anyone do the same thing and were not arrested?

We had children in schools when Dr. Peter Negroni was superintendent of Springfield schools [in the 1990s]. Crime in the schools was a regular occurrence. A vice principal was stabbed by a teacher in 2011.

Arrests almost never happened. Educational staff were trying to cope with criminal behavior, ineffective at best, dangerous at worse. Police patrols paid out of the school budget were instituted rather than expelling criminals. I predicted that the police presence would expand and use up money needed for teachers and books. Expulsion can also mean a different system housed down the hall in the same building.

Unfortunately no small number of students feel that getting an education is not important. They are in the school because they are forced to be there. They are also catered to by groups such as Neighbor to Neighbor, and some of the School Committee. Simply put — as in the movie Idiocracy — the achievers have been out bred and out voted. MCAS is a $6 million device to tell us what we already know: you can have a diploma and still have not met the minimum requirements to function.

I hope Armando Olivares [a Neighbor to Neighbor volunteer working on disrupting the school to prison pipeline] can convince some of them to change.

Those who wish to get a real education, and can afford it, have private schools, or the Catholic school system. Charter schools offer some relief for those who do not have the resources for a private school. The “d-education” lobby tries to fight charter schools and force people who want to get an education. Catering to those who do not want an education has turned into a state sponsored career for many, and they are not about to give it up easily.

— Robert Joseph Underwood,



Stop the Escalator — I Want to Get Off

Wow, what a great response to a very common question (“The V-Spot: When Did I Get on the Relationship Escalator?” April 6-12, 2017). Yes, various things that are common in traditional Escalator relationships can be found in other relationship styles, too! You made this point quite well, I’ll mention it on the Facebook page for my book, Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator: Uncommon Love and Life.

— Amy Gahran,



Patients and Nurses Deserve Better

People ask me why I work as a Licensed Nursing Assistant (LNA). It’s for my patients. I give each patient my all, but with understaffing my all isn’t enough. Being understaffed not only burns us out — it’s created a less functioning work environment that isn’t safe for our patient’s wellbeing. My work style is described as “hectic.” I run around the unit all day feeling like I can’t catch my breath. Patients deserve their care providers to be attentive and present, not scrambling from one room to another. It’s not just physical demands either — I make my patients feel important and cared for. This is who I am. I make patients smile when their days have been nothing but struggles and bad news. I help them gain strength and teach them how to adapt to new obstacles. Our patients deserve the best care we have to offer, but right now I can’t provide that. Patient care and safety is lacking due to the staffing crisis that University of Vermont Medical Center administration has been struggling with for too long. Right now we’re unable to provide quality care. Our nurse managers, nurses and LNAs have done our best with what we’re given from the administration, but it isn’t enough. We want to become a union because with a voice at the table patient safety can be achieved and patient care wouldn’t suffer from understaffing. We are the people providing patient care. Who better to advocate for our patients than us?

— Jordan Schnabel,

Colchester, VT