Our family fell in love with Rhode Island in 2004 when we moved from Virginia to take a job at the Naval War College in Newport. It was nice to be back in New England – my wife and I were both born and raised in Massachusetts.
We bought a house in Barrington, sent our two sons to Barrington High School and then off to Bowdoin and Annapolis. We became engaged in our town and state and paid significant taxes. Life was good.
Living near Narragansett Bay, the East Bay Bike Path, and having access to world-class beaches, outdoor activities and Providence’s culture made writing those tax checks a bit easier. We made lifelong friends in Rhode Island.
I retired from the Navy in 2007, and we chose to make Rhode Island home. After 12 Navy moves in a 25-year career, we planned on staying!
I taught resource allocation, strategic planning and leadership while at the War College and had an MBA from a top-tier public university, but finding a job after retirement was hard.
I understood the challenges faced by Rhode Island’s citizens looking for work. Rhode Island’s unemployment statistics have been grim since our arrival in the state and continue unabated and are among the nation’s worst.
As a working-class kid from Boston who benefited greatly from public higher education institutions in Massachusetts and Virginia, I was blessed to find a second career I believed in at the Community College of Rhode Island and a boss in Ray Di Pasquale who is an innovative leader in American higher education and most importantly, a man of integrity.
Public education should give every Rhode Islander a shot at the American dream and upward socioeconomic mobility. My job as a higher education leader was to enable students, faculty and staff to succeed in a resource-constrained environment using the tools of management and the art of leadership.
Rhode Island has such potential as a place to live and a place to do business. But that potential is not being realized. Whatever objective metric you chose to use, Rhode Island is not performing well.
Assessing a state’s performance is a complicated task, involving the objective measuring of the economy, government, education, business and demographics. The economic and business data in Rhode Island have been discussed at length for years; action is required.