Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cutting classes

Gov. Rick Scott of Florida finds no reason to ask what you do with a B.A. in English. For him, such a thing has no value at all. In his world, a college education is about nothing more than a job, so it is a waste of time to study subjects like anthropology or political science or ethics. Claiming support for technical studies instead, Scott has announced support for the new Florida Polytechnic University.

At the same time as he claims to support education aimed at workforce needs, reports Forbes magazine, the University of Florida is dropping its computer and information science department, a move that would save about $ 1.7 million, in response to six years of drastic reductions in public funding. 

“Since cutting support for universities seems to be a major agenda item for (Scott) and the legislature, why stop at thirty percent?” the Forbes report continues. “With just a bit more cutting, you could get rid of those annoying universities entirely.” 

Of a liberal arts degree, Mr. Scott has said, “It’s a great degree if people want to get it. But we don’t need them here.”

College, however, is about more than an income. “Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction,” said Dr. Martin Luther King.

Education is not just a private good, resulting in a lucrative career that repays an investment. It is a public good that enriches the minds and the lives of entire societies. Teaching computer science or English, our great universities are worth more public support, not less.



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