by Benjamin J. Kirby
Maybe now we can stop pretending Florida Governor Rick Scott is anything but a back-stabbing grifter who only cares about making his rich friends richer. He could at least do us the courtesy of refraining from calling his most recent public policy train wreck the "education budget".
Yesterday, Forbes was good enough to detail how Scott was going to shut down the computer science department at the University of Florida while simultaneously increasing the budget of the athletic department by $2 million. (The school responded, somewhat cryptically, here.)
This was done against the backdrop of creating a new polytechnic university,which was widely understood to be at the behest of Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander. (Matt covered this quite well back in February.) In Scott's budget message, he said:
"It is vital for the future of Florida's economy that we meet the need for a STEM educated workforce," Scott wrote in a memo explaining his decision.
STEM stands for "science, technology, engineering and math". No kidding.
The author of the Forbes piece, Steven Salzberg, sounded a well-tuned political note by saying:
"Now, I’m not saying that UF has chosen football over science. (Imagine the outcry, though, if UF cut a major sport instead of a major science department.) Actually, the real villains here are the Florida state legislators, who have cut the budget for their flagship university by 30% over the past 6 years."
Indeed. Let us not lose sight of what our elected leaders -- Republican-led lo these last six years and well beyond -- have done to our institutions of learning on their watch.
But let us also not forget the least common denominator of our own priorities. Hint: it ain't STEM.
I've always been bothered by the ads the University of Florida felt the need to run:
Go gators? Seriously?
Hey, nice doctor. Go be a writer. Go be a business guy. FOOTBALL MASCOT!
No one else thinks it is even a little depressing that the single common thread at the UF is not a quality education or a degree from a top-notch state university, but... football? From my view, the ad minimizes the great things people learn at UF and the things they become in our society, while glorifying "the Gator Nation," whatever that really is.
Maybe they should have marketed the actual education piece a bit more. At least the computer sciences, right?