Degrees To Jobs Summit Falls Short
Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently held an education summit in Tallahassee titled “Degrees to Jobs.” The gathering included football coaches from the universities of Florida, Florida State and Miami.
It included politicians and business leaders.
Just about everyone was represented at the education summit except, you know, educators.
Curiously (or maybe not), the governor didn’t think it necessary to invite professional educators to a big meeting that might affect the way they do their jobs. That once again showcased his attitude that teachers should be tools of government and business without any real regard for how the job of education is done.
That prompted this statement from the United Faculty of Florida, which represents more than 22,000 faculty members in the state’s colleges and universities:
“The very premise of Rick Scott’s summit is problematic in that the mission of higher education is much more than just jobs. While obtaining a job after graduation is important, higher education is about developing educated, well-rounded citizens and future leaders who are able to communicate and write effectively, think critically, and solve problems – skills that are also important criteria for those who do the hiring,” the statement read.
“If Governor Scott is serious about improving higher education, then he needs to make sure that our university and college systems are funded properly, not relying on gimmicks such as one-size-fits-all performance funding.”
When it comes to education though, this governor, along with many politicians, is all about gimmicks.
The state Legislature, for instance, has tied the pay from a bonus pool called the “Best and Brightest” to how well that teacher scored on their SAT scores from HIGH SCHOOL – never mind that they may have taken that test decades before.
Seems absurd, right?
But Tallahassee’s attitude seems to be that politicians can do the job of educating better than professional educators, particularly if that teacher is a union member. You don’t think millions in public school dollars are being diverted to private charter schools by accident, do you?
Scott isn’t the first governor to try and reshape public education to fit his agenda. Former Gov. Jeb Bush passionately believed the entire system needed to be rebuilt to meet 21st century challenges.
Educators, particularly those on the front lines, can be dismissive and even a little condescending to anyone with a suggestion on how they might do their job better. In that sense, they’re not much different from politicians. That’s especially true when the politician is Rick Scott.
Whatever the governor thinks of educators, though, they ultimately have the task of executing whatever business and political leaders decide they should do. That fact alone is why they should have been at the table for this summit.
But there’s another point.
The governor doesn’t like to be told that his ideas, particularly on education, are narrow and focused only on the marketplace. College is about preparing the whole person, not just the working person.
Scott never seems to take that into account, and educators would remind him of that in front of political and business leaders. I think being told he might be wrong is the one thing that bugs this governor the most.
I think we saw it.