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EDITORIAL

Florida’s State University System and Board of Governors are charged with improving higher education in Florida while facing drastic budget constraints. Now, while one bureaucratic board is seeking to help the situation, lawmakers are attempting to shake up Florida’s educational system.

Led by Rep. Joe Pickens, some Florida politicians are hoping to create a new level of colleges within the state that would work to produce only bachelor’s degrees. The program will most likely stem from community colleges that would be able to expand bachelor’s degree programs.

Also included with the proposal are other, more extravagant changes that, according to the Tampa Tribune, would “allow lawmakers to seize control of the state’s 11 public universities.”

The bachelor’s-only degree schools would become a part of a state college system, and would be managed by a board appointed by the governor, not the BOG.

The movement is also being supported by businesses across the state that want Florida’s universities to keep up with the demand for bachelor’s degrees statewide, the Tribune reports. Naturally, where there is interest of major businesses, there is also the interest of lawmakers.

Working to increase the quantity of degrees most likely means the quality will continue to be sub-par, especially considering the drastic budget shortfalls and cuts being made.

It is a commendable plan to increase the availability of bachelor’s degree programs, but it shouldn’t come with the price tag of a system overhaul and the delays that would generate.

Adding a new layer of politics will add more jobs, and replacing the Board of Governors with politicians who have their campaign donors to consider in decision-making situations will only hinder current progress.

Decision-making at the universities has already reduced input from academia, instead relying heavily on businesses and elected officials.

If lawmakers and businesses truly have the concerns of Florida’s students in mind, they will seek to strengthen the current system established to provide their education instead of seeking to dismantle it.

Do Pickens and his supporters have a plan to create more bachelor’s degrees in Florida? Yes, but it will come to fruition only if people are willing to allow them to spend countless hours and taxpayer dollars to build a system where the politicians are the primary benefactors, not the students.