Letters to the Editor 10-27-11

In response to the Oct. 25 editorial “Rick Scott has wrong ideas about higher education.”

The editor board appears quite critical of Gov. Rick Scott’s attempt to reduce unemployment rates in our state, as he is arguably going about it the wrong way. I ask, though, is there a good or bad way to bring more Americans to work? Living in a state that has the 46th-highest unemployment rate at 10.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), we cannot stand to lose any more jobs. So I would argue that all measures should be considered to raise employment levels.

According to the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability, more than 50 percent of college graduates in Florida state universities leave the state with their degrees. Since we do have relatively inexpensive education costs in Florida, we cannot afford to continue to lose our graduates and our jobs, especially since we’ve made them low-cost.

Scott’s attempts to raise funding for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors, at the cost of others, seems harsh but must be considered, as it would better our economy. According to the Center on Education and the Workforce, 89 percent of STEM majors have full-time employment, versus only 80 percent of non-STEM majors.

Furthermore, STEM majors can expect a mean income of at least $70,000 versus a mean income of $31,000 to $51,000 for social workers, counselors and anthropologists, according to the BLS.

I know this is an inflammatory and controversial article, but Scott’s plan to raise funding for STEM majors is a step toward lowering unemployment and bringing more valuable jobs to the state.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we need more of each college degree in Florida. I can hardly stress my emphasis enough in saying that anthropologists, counselors, artists, linguists and all the other college graduates are still hugely valuable to our society. More importantly, though, when attempting to lower unemployment and better our economy, we must turn our eyes (and funding) to more highly valuable and employable degrees. Yes, this plan must be very carefully thought through, but it is necessary to help bring around our economy and better each of our own lives in the end.

Robert Geier is a senior majoring in political science.