In its newly released legislative agenda, the Florida Chamber of Commerce extolls the importance of higher ed reforms. Though the Chamber doesn’t delve into specifics, most of its recommendations are seemingly in line with some of Gov. Rick Scott’s controversial ideas.
Scott has gotten flack for some of his proposed higher ed changes, including an emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs over liberal arts degrees. Scott, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a law degree from Southern Methodist University, was lambasted for singling out anthropologists when he said, “Do you want to use your tax money to educate more people who can’t get jobs in anthropology? I don’t.”
From the Florida Chamber’s 2012 business agenda (.pdf):
The Florida Chamber supports empowering our higher education system to lead Florida’s transformation into a knowledge-based economy.
- Reward and incentivize meritorious students.
- Ensure students who are truly in need have access to financial aid.
- Link Bright Futures scholarships to degrees in the fields of science, technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
- Incetivize efficiency to increase the number of baccalaureate degrees awarded in Florida.
- Remove regulatory burdens within our state university and college system.
The report also notes a projected 20 percent increase in STEM employment in Florida by 2018, and estimates that there were 33,600 STEM jobs available to be filled in Florida as of April 2011.