Guest MINDSETTER™ Sen. DiPalma: Education – The Key to a Better Job, Better Wages & Better Future
Saturday, December 30, 2017
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
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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