Guest MINDSETTER™ Gubernatorial Candidate Dr. Muñoz: A Better Education System for Rhode Islanders
Monday, February 12, 2018
A recent report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation has been referenced as a “sudden awakening” of the achievement gap that exist in the Latino student population. As an American with Latino ancestry and a Central Falls High School graduate, I understand, on a personal level, the challenges that exist within our school systems. I also understand that when achievement gaps manifest, they are often the result of administrations that fail to provide adequate resources to teachers and students.
As a high school student, I remember sitting shoulder to shoulder with friends who had arrived from Cape Verde, Colombia, Portugal, and South East Asia, and who were left to fend for themselves in an academic environment that did not provide adequate language learning tools. This experience and others like it contributed to my self-actualization and perspective on the future of education.
Rhode Island schools are the American melting pot. The families that choose to build their futures here are united with families from countries such as, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Liberia, and many others. Together, the future we build for our children is layered on the past struggles and successes of generations of Native Americans, African Americans, and European Americans. Nonetheless, the struggle for quality education and accessible opportunities for all Rhode Islanders continues, and while past and present administrations have used the story of our unified struggle to advance their agendas, what have they actually done to help improve education and opportunity access in a meaningful and sustainable way?
Those of us that are successful in this arduous journey of academic and professional development often look back and wonder whether there was a well defined road that only a few of us were fortunate enough to have discovered, or whether it was our will that paved the way. During my studies at Rhode Island College, I often pondered over the relationship between opportunity and will power. I found reflection in the works of one ancient Greek philosopher by the name of Aristophanes. In his book, Plutus (“Wealth”), he described this brief interaction between a servant (“CARION”) and a POLITICIAN.
CARION: [Are you...] a merchant then?
POLITICIAN: Ah, sometimes I have had to take that trade up – as an alibi.
CARION: How do you make a living?
POLITICIAN: Well, there’re several answers to that. I’m Supervisor General of all things here, public and private too.
CARION: A great profession that … What did you do to quality for it?
POLITICIAN: I WANTED it.
Aristophanes’ story impacted some of my earlier reflections on education, opportunity, and the road ahead. The servant was not allowed to access opportunities, but was also mentally constrained by the premise that there was a ladder that had to be climbed to achieve greater purpose. The fact is that a will to achieve must be met with adequate resources. The achievement gaps we see today are in part the result of a lack of resources, and a level of neglect that itself has indoctrinated a great number of students, with the belief that they may not have a purpose or a path towards impact.
Establishment leaders have failed to provide, and balance the appropriation of, newer technologies in public education settings. Establishment leaders have failed to transform the way in which our education system frames opportunity and industry readiness. They have failed to foster an education system that would give students of all races and ethnicities, languages and cultural practices, a chance to learn how to formulate the questions that will propel them towards self-actualization. This failure to listen to, and comprehend, the cultural nuances that exist within a heterogeneous statewide community is not the fault of teachers or parents, but of those establishment leaders who maintain a grip on the resources that might allow us to move forward.
Public education as an experience has the potential to foster a common bond between communities and individuals, and can augment civic engagement. It is time to empower teachers and students with better tools. It is time to foster and incentivize collaboration between private and public academic institutions. It is to unite in this call for innovative learning models for all Rhode Islanders. It is time to adapt our infrastructure to meet the demands of future industries, so that we may position Rhode Island's youth as one of the strongest creative and tech talent pools in the country. If you believe in a forward leaning path, then join me on this new road towards a better education system for all Rhode Islanders.
Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017
Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?
Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...
Definitely be voting: 78%
Probably be voting: 13%
What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?
Jobs and economy: 21%
State budget: 9%
Corruption/Public integrity: .8%
Don’t know: .9%
Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?
Net: Approve: 28%
Definitely approve: 15%
Probably approve: 14%
Net: Reject: 67%
Probably reject: 19%
Definitely reject: 48%
Don't know: 4%
The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).
$50,000 or less: 27%
More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%
More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%
More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%
$150,000 or more: 13%
Don't know/refused: 17%
What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?
Black or African American: 6%
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