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Guest MINDSETTER™ Sen. DiPalma: Education – The Key to a Better Job, Better Wages & Better Future

Saturday, December 30, 2017


Senator Louis DiPalma

The economies of today and tomorrow require a workforce with some form of postsecondary education, including certification and credentialing. Since the economic recovery began in January 2010, approximately 11.6 million jobs have been created. Of those jobs, greater than 11.5 million required a post-secondary degree or credential. Such staggering figures force us to conclude that a high school education remains necessary, but is no longer sufficient to meet the demands of today’s labor market.

At the recent Higher RI Summit, which brought together national, regional, and local leaders to focus on postsecondary education in Rhode Island, and in which I actively participated, Governor Raimondo in her opening remarks communicated the following: “By 2025, I want 70 percent of Rhode Islanders (ages 25 – 65) to have a degree or credential past high school. Today’s economy gives us no other option. You need that level of education and training to succeed. I am laser-focused on creating jobs and opportunity in Rhode Island, but we can’t do that without a solid postsecondary foundation. Today’s summit is focused on improving equity, affordability, and innovation so that we can set every Rhode Islander up for success.”

And, the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), of which I’m a member, established a Commission on Higher Education and Employability. The Commission, which is chaired by Governor Raimondo, has as its main charter to “… increase the life and career readiness of college and university graduates … “

It is clear many policy leaders are taking this issue seriously. Recently the RI Senate held its 6th Annual Senate Education Summit. The summit, led by Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Hanna Gallo and Vice-Chairman Harold Metts, focused on student post-secondary preparedness. And, thankfully, work has begun, as exampled by the partnership between CCRI and Central Falls High School, aggressively working to better prepare students for college-level math.

But this is not enough.   

In the short term, we must scale up pilot programs that we know work, like the partnership between CCRI and Central Falls. We also need to continue to support our early college programs, which are giving thousands of high school students the opportunity to try out a college class and earn college credits, for free, while still in high school – a terrific way for students to demonstrate they are college ready. In the long term, we need an even more robust Pre-K-12 strategy that ensures all RI students are adequately prepared to succeed in postsecondary education/training. This will certainly lay the needed groundwork for Rhode Islanders to attain a better job, better wages and better future.

We know we must do more. The most recent facts show that approximately 66 percent, or two thirds, of the incoming CCRI freshman class were required to take one, two or even three remedial/developmental education courses. From my perspective, we are letting down these students, their families, and RI, and must do more.

Policy makers are engaged and committed to addressing this issue. Now we must agree on a long-term strategy to ameliorating this 66 percent deficiency. This will require a multi-year commitment to systemic reform, and we must have the courage and conviction to stay the course. Anything less is unacceptable.

Building upon the momentum resulting from the Higher RI Summit, RI Senate 6th Educational Summit, the work of CCRI, and the NEBHE Commission, I plan to convene a group of leaders in education: Pre-K – 12, higher education, and education-focused foundations (local and national), to name a few, to bring a laser-focused spotlight on this issue and work to assess the way forward to achieving the strategy. We owe it to the 66 percent of the students, their teachers, their families and the entire state of RI. The time to act is now.


Louis P. DiPalma is a Democrat representing District 12 (Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton) in the Rhode Island State Senate, where he is a member of the Senate Committee on Education.


Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017

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Sponsor: GoLocalProv

Sample: N=403

Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level

Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017

Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)

Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.

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Are you registered to vote at this address?

Yes: 100%

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When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

Unaffiliated: 49%

Democrat: 32%

Republican: 15%

Moderate: .4%

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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%

50-50: 9%

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In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?

Right track: 39%

Wrong track: 45%

Mixed: 10%

Don't know/Refused: .6%

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What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?

Jobs and economy:  21%

Education: 12%

Taxes: 12%

Roads: 12%

State budget: 9%

Corruption/Public integrity: .8%

Healthcare: 3%

Governor: 3%

Homelessness: 2%

Immigration: 2%

Other: 7%

Don’t know: .9%

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Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 35%

Changed for the worse: 16%

Not changed at all: 43%

Don't know/Refused: 5%

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Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 26%

Changed for the worse: 19%

Not changed at all: 54%

Don't know/Refused: 1%

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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%

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Could you please tell me your age?

18-24: 7%

25-34: 15%

35-44: 15%

45-54: 20%

55-64: 17%

65+: 25%

Don't know/refused: 1%

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What was the last grade you completed in school?

0-11: 2%

High school grad: 16%

Technical/Vocational school: 1%

Some college: 23%

College grad: 34%

Graduate degree: 24%

Don't know/refused: 1%

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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%

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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?

American/None: 21%

English: 13%

Italian: 13%

Irish: 12%

Black or African American: 6%

Latino/Hispanic: 6%

French: 6%

Portuguese: 3%

Jewish: 3%

German: 1%

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Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?

Excellent: 13%
Good: 12%
Fair: 14%
Poor: 57%
Never heard of:  0%
Cannot rate: 3%

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Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 22%
Good: 29%
Fair: 23%
Poor: 15%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 6%

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Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 17%
Good: 22%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 28%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 7%

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Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 9%
Good: 29%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 27%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate:  8%

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Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 7%
Good: 30%
Fair: 20%
Poor: 18%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 11%

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Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?

Excellent: 6%
Good: 28%
Fair: 30%
Poor: 31%
Never heard of: 1%
Cannot rate: 3%

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Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?

Excellent: 3%
Good: 16%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 8%
Never heard of: 26%
Cannot rate: 25%

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Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?

Excellent: 3%
Good: 20%
Fair: 28%
Poor: 17%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 19%

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Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 18%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 13%
Never heard of: 21%
Cannot rate: 21%

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Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?

Excellent: 5%
Good: 21%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 10%
Never heard of: 20%
Cannot rate: 23%

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Would you say that Jorge Elorza has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Mayor of Providence?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 24%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 22%
Never heard of: 9%
Cannot rate: 15%


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