Petition blasts Fla. governor’s plan to cut social sciences

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s statement disparaging majors such as anthropology and calling for cutbacks in funds for social science programs in the state’s colleges has been roundly and rightly criticized. Now a petition is circulating, so you can protest his ill-advised plan, too. (To see previous post on this issue, click here.)

Scott disparaged anthropology programs especially as being essentially useless because the degrees didn’t create jobs (interesting, since his daughter was an anthro major), and another powerful Florida politician joined in tone-deaf chorus, adding psychology and political science to the list.

Petition sponsor Lyndsey Fitzgerald  says:

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.

She also points out some of the fields people with social science degrees go into: “forensics, education, intelligence, public health, crime investigation, law, politics, military, government, business, etc.” I would add journalism to that list. Feel free to make your own.

There’s no need to sugarcoat it. These Florida politicians are acting like ignoramuses. (Am I being too charitable, calling it “acting”?)  Ms. Fitzgerald goes on to quote the federal 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 precisely those for which liberal arts students are known.

So do us all a favor and sign the petition, even if you don’t live in Florida. Governor Scott and his colleagues need to see what people from all over think of this idea. (after all, they love their out-of-state tuition, don’t they?) And if you live in Florida, good luck. You’ve got your work cut out for you.




Save student aid

All levels of public education have seen their budgets cut in recent years, which is one reason that college tuition costs have far outpaced inflation.

Meanwhile, Congress is likely to make further cuts to Pell Grants, which help ecomically disadvantaged students pursue and complete college degrees. The Student Aid Alliance is circulating a petition calling on elected officials to reverse recent trends and properly fund student loan and grant programs. Please sign it.

The statement accompanying the peitition states:

Our nation sorely needs to power up its economic engine. Work force projections show that by 2018, there will be jobs for as many as 22 million new workers with college degrees, but on our current trajectory, we won’t make that goal—in fact we’ll miss it by 3 million workers.

Recent budget deals have already cut $30 billion from the student aid programs, sacrificing some students’ benefits to pay for others. States across the country are cutting higher education from their own budgets.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to preserve, protect and provide adequate funding for the core federal student aid programs—such as Pell Grants and student loan benefits. Together, these programs offer students an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills our nation demands for a strong recovery.

Tough budget decisions in DC have put pressure on all federal spending, but cutting student aid, a long-term investment in our nation’s future, doesn’t make sense.

College Board and ETS look to tighten security on SAT

From AP, via the Washington Post:

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — A security firm run by the former director of the FBI has been retained to review security — and will recommend changes — on standardized testing procedures following an SAT cheating scandal on New York’s Long Island, officials with the nonprofit organizations behind the tests said Tuesday.

The officials from The College Board and Educational Testing Service made the announcement at a hearing of the New York state Senate’s subcommittee on higher education. The ETS administers the SAT on behalf of the Princeton, N.J.-based College Board.

Sen. Kenneth LaValle, the subcommittee chairman, convened the hearing after seven current or former students at Great Neck North High School were arrested last month. Authorities said six of the students had an older college student who had attended the high school take their exams in their place in a quest for better scores.

To read more, click here.  For background posts, click here.

Judge puts hold on mandatory drug testing at Missouri college

Update: A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against Linn State, blocking implementation of the drug-testing program. Read more.

I read about this recently and intended to put up a post about it, but the Decatur Book Festival overshadowed it at the time.  I guessed this would happen, and it did, ’cause it’s a chain gang thing.

From Inside Higher Ed:

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday sued Linn State Technical College over its decision to test all of its students for drugs. Administrators at the Missouri college, whose comprehensive drug-testing program is believed to be a first for a public institution, said the approach was justified because many of its students are in programs (such as aircraft maintenance) in which they will operate sometimes dangerous equipment. But the ACLU said that college officials’ acknowledgment that they will test students whom they do not suspect of drug use made the program clearly unconstitutional.

Why didn’t she just call in sick?

From Reuters:

A Denver elementary school teacher is accused of making a phony bomb threat at the Catholic school where she taught, authorities said on Tuesday.

Jennifer Gomes, 42, a teacher at the Escuela de Guadalupe school in Denver, is charged with one count of false reporting of explosives, said Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney’s Office.

Gomes admitted to police that she placed a note outside the school’s main entrance earlier this month that read, “There is a bomb inside,” according to a probable cause statement.

Read more.

Police arrest Occupy Atlanta protesters

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Woodruff Park remained quiet and empty early Wednesday morning after Atlanta police reclaimed the park, arresting 53 Occupy Atlanta protesters after multiple warnings.

Organizers had urged protesters who were not arrested to return to the park at 6 a.m., but there were none in the park at 7:30. About two dozen Atlanta police officers remained on the perimeter of the park, which was surrounded by 4-foot metal barricades.

Mayor Kasim Reed told reporters more than 100 officers were involved in the operation to clear the park, adding the  protests, which started more than two weeks ago, had cost the city roughly $300,000.

Officers swarmed the park around 12:45 a.m. The arrests were orderly and peaceful, though some of the protesters had to dragged out.

Read more.