Gov. Rick Scott, Hands Off Higher Education in Florida!
  • Petitioned Florida Legislature

This petition was delivered to:

Florida Legislature
Governor of Florida
Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott, Hands Off Higher Education in Florida!

    1. Lyndsey Fitzgerald
    2. Petition by

      Lyndsey Fitzgerald

      Orange City, FL

Rick Scott, Governor of Florida has proposed that the state cut funding to liberal arts and social sciences programs (anthropology, psychology, English, history, arts, etc.) at institutions of higher education and in turn, provide those funds to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programs. While it is important to have strong science and math programs, destroying social sciences is not the way to accomplish such a task. (By the way, anthropology is arguably a STEM degree). He has directly asserted that liberal arts programs are useless and do not provide jobs, a point on which he is incorrect. Liberal arts degree-holders are essential to the Florida economy. They work in diverse fields such as forensics, education, intelligence, public health, crime investigation, law, politics, military, government, business, etc. Governor Scott has disparaged the education of millions and has demonstrated disturbing hostility toward higher education. Further, he is jeopardizing the future of Florida's already teetering economy.

See the story here: http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/state/anthropologists-on-governor-rick-scott%27s-hit-list

And here: http://htpolitics.com/2011/10/10/rick-scott-wants-to-shift-university-funding-away-from-some-majors/

Let me make this clear: NO ONE is arguing against increased funding for STEM programs. The argument here is against the destruction of every other discipline to accomplish that.

I spent nearly nine years as a linguist in the U.S. Navy. I served in strategic and tactical theaters at home and abroad. I saw firsthand the absolute necessity of linguistic, historical, and cultural understanding in very complicated situations. I came home to study anthropology and now find myself in the biggest fight of my life - or I should say OUR lives. The potential long-term educational and economic damage is sufficiently disturbing. 

Innovation and scientific discovery do not happen in a vacuum. To create the problem-solvers of tomorrow we need to maintain a well-rounded curriculum. The issue with low graduation rates in STEM programs need to be addressed at the K-12 level, not through attacks on higher education. Additionally, decisions on which departments receive increased or decreased funding should reside with those professionals qualified to make those determinations.

Commercializing education does not work.

Some questions we need to ask ourselves:

- What happens to the thousands of students currently majoring in liberal arts if their degree programs go away? Will they be forced to start over? How will that affect graduation and in turn, employment?

- What happens to Florida scholarships and grants? Do students not receive them if they choose liberal arts? Do they go away completely? UPDATE: The Florida Chamber of Commerce is looking to link Bright Futures scholarships to STEM. See news story in petition updates.

- What sort of precedent will this set if we allow our government to financially strong-arm academia into serving partisan interests?

- What happens to the credibility of Florida universities? Will we drive the top minds (faculty and students) out of our state? (I believe the answer is yes and they will take their taxes and economic activity elsewhere)

- What happens to Florida universities' accreditation if we fail to provide the appropriate curriculum?

- How will STEM majors fulfill core requirements when classes are not offered?

Florida universities are not vocational schools. Their task is to teach students to think critically and to provide a well-rounded education, which absolutely involves the liberal arts. No government has the right to tell an individual what their chosen career should be nor does it have the right to qualify one discipline as superior to another. From the National Science Foundation (nsf.gov):

"No single factor is more important to the intellectual and economic progress of society, and to the enhanced well-being of its citizens, than the continuous acquisition of new knowledge."

Please do not allow these measures to pass.

From the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics:

"Surveys by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)
show that most hiring managers care more about a job candidate’s skills
than they do about a college major. And the skills employers say they want
most in a candidate, such as communication and critical thinking, are pre-
cisely those for which liberal arts students are known."

"Anthropologists and archaeologists, the largest specialty, is expected to grow by 28 percent [from 2008 - 2018], driven by growth in the management, scientific, and technical consulting services industry. Anthropologists who work as consultants will be needed to apply their analytical skills and knowledge to problems ranging from economic development to forensics. A growing number of anthropologists also will be needed in specific segments of the Federal Government, such as the U.S. Department of Defense, to assess the regional customs and values—or “cultural terrain”—of a particular society in specific parts of the world. Employment growth of archaeologists will be driven by higher levels of overall construction, including large-scale transportation projects and upgrades to the Nation’s infrastructure. As construction projects increase, more archaeologists will be needed to ensure that Federal laws related to the preservation of archaeological and historical sites and artifacts are met."

Enjoy this tidbit of irony:

University of South Florida Anthropological Research Entitled, "Understanding Factors that Sustain Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Career Pathways (STEM)"

 

http://anthropology.usf.edu/aarea/research_projects/completed_projects/stem/

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: An Update on State Budget Cuts:

From Feb. 2011

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1214

Please also sign the following petition:

http://www.change.org/petitions/support-anthropology-in-florida

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Scott calls for more education spending, less on Medicaid Read more: http:

      Lyndsey Fitzgerald
      Petition Organizer

      As some of you might have already heard, the Governor submitted his 2012-2013 budget recommendations. It calls for a $1 billion boost for K-12 and no new money for higher education. There are downsides to the budget BUT, no deep cuts to higher education, specifically liberal arts and social sciences. We won't know for sure what the approved budget will look like until it makes it through the Florida Legislature. That session begins January 30th so until then, I think we can be mildly pleased. Education is finally becoming a priority for the Governor. I think this is a good start. The petition will remain open until the end of the legislative session. I'll continue to update as new information becomes available.

      Thanks everyone!

    2. The Engineer Dropout Problem

      Lyndsey Fitzgerald
      Petition Organizer

      This speaks to the real issues in STEM education. Notice, none of it has to do with slashing liberal arts budgets. There are some gaps in reporting, like Columbia graduating 96% or 98% of their STEM majors (probably due to more selective enrollment) but it does get to the heart of the issue. STEM majors are simply not interested.

    3. STUDENT GOVERNMENT-MMC: Gov. Scott’s stance on STEM met with opposition

      Lyndsey Fitzgerald
      Petition Organizer

      89% of people polled on htpolitics disagree with the Governor's statements

    4. Reached 10,000 signatures
    5. Reached 9,000 signatures
    6. Reached 8,000 signatures
    7. Reached 7,000 signatures
    8. 1,000 Signatures!

      Lyndsey Fitzgerald
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you everyone!! We need to keep going if we're going to convince this administration that they are wrong. This potential policy has broader economic implications for this state. What will happen to Florida scholarships and grants? If those go away, how will it impact access to higher education for medium to low-income families? How will that impact the job market here? Keep those questions in mind as we continue forward.

    9. Reached 1,000 signatures
    10. Social Sciences Can Lead to Successful and Fulfilling Employment

      Lyndsey Fitzgerald
      Petition Organizer

      This is an articulate and insightful article written by Lee Higdon, President of Connecticut College.

    11. 750 Signatures reached!

      Lyndsey Fitzgerald
      Petition Organizer

      We can do better! Floridians, let's tell this current administration that we are tired of funding cuts on education! First, it was primary schools and now it's the universities. Say NO!

    12. Reached 750 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Melissa Ferguson CINCINNATI, OH
      • over 2 years ago

      I'm a Florida gator. I earned an engineering degree but took many electives in the liberal arts. It makes us more well rounded. If those programs no longer existed we could no longer have those options.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Gloria Siecinski BROOKSVILLE, FL
      • over 2 years ago

      I have a child at USF - St.Pete. She is an English major and as far as I am concerned, she is more vital to the United States than Rick Scott could ever hope to be.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Robert Dent SAINT CLOUD, UNITED STATES MINOR OUTLYING ISLANDS
      • over 2 years ago

      Due to Scott narrow minded leadership, lacking in any perceived or real plan to build a better state through education.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • David Clemmitt LAKE PANASOFFKEE, FL
      • over 2 years ago

      Scott must go!!!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Leslie Yaniga CAPE CORAL, FL
      • over 2 years ago

      Governor Scott, you have no right to change curriculum that has been part of the state education system. You are not an educator. Obviously you need to educate yourself on the value of a good liberal arts and social sciences education to our society.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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