Nine individuals who are bullish and optimistic amid the state's current tough times
Photo by Frank Mullin
Where he's from: Bristol
Level of hope and optimism for the state's future, on a scale of 1 to 10: 6.5. "Rhode Island has the ability to change itself. Rhode Island has the ability to solve its problems."
Angus Davis is keenly concerned with two inter-related problems: a shortage of good-paying jobs in Rhode Island, and the underperforming schools in many of the state's cities and towns.
"As someone who loves Rhode Island, I want something better for our state," says Davis, who serves on the state Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education, chairing the board's charter school committee, and is co-chairing the search for the state's new education commissioner, among a handful of similar affiliations. Noting how poor immigrants are providing most of the population growth in the state, he says the woman folding laundry at the Westin "did not emigrate so that her children can fold laundry at the Westin."
As Davis notes, roughly 85 percent of the students in Providence are low-income children of color, and about half of them are not going to graduate from high school. That society allows this to go unchallenged, he says, is "a civil rights injustice that, I think, is probably the biggest civil rights issue of our time."
Davis, who was introduced to computers at a young age by one of his grandparents, went on to co-found Tellme Networks, a form of telephone applications that was acquired by Microsoft in 2007, and he remains actively involved with the company. He resides in Providence, he says, since his closest friends and family members are in Rhode Island. Even with the state's various issues, he says, "I think it's a great place to live."
Despite the intense challenge of improving public education, Davis counts himself cautiously optimistic about the state's future. Ultimately, he says, "[We have to] take a kids-first philosophy — we ought to ask ourselves, what's best for kids, and make our decisions accordingly."