Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Slashing Education Budget Will Hurt the State's Future

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Slashing Education Budget Will Hurt the State's Future

Article excerpt

Byline: TONYAA WEATHERSBEE

Memo to Gov. Rick Scott: You can't get there from here.

Scott claims he wants to create 700,000 jobs in Florida in seven years, which, with a 12 percent unemployment rate, has seen the underpinnings of its economy - agriculture, construction and tourism - crumble beneath the weight of the Great Recession.

To rebuild those underpinnings, the state needs to turn its focus to jobs in research and technology and health; jobs that don't necessarily rely on people being able-bodied but nimble-minded. Which means that now, more than ever, education ought not to be treated as expendable but as essential.

So, what does Scott do? He proposes cutting education spending by $3.6 billion.

That means a 10 percent cut in per-pupil spending for youths in grades kindergarten through 12. And educators throughout the state, and in North Florida, are worried.

According to a Times-Union story, Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties are expected to lose $148 million. While officials in those counties expected to lose $70 million of that once the stimulus funds dried up, they didn't see another $78 million in cuts coming.

That means layoffs and less money to pay for the education that youths will need for an economy that relies on strong minds and changes in technology.

It means that the state risks winding up with a work force that will be ill-prepared to take on the higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs that can help rebuild this state's tattered economy and tax base.

It means not funding electives like art and music; subjects that fuel students' imagination and give them insights into different ways to think.

In short, it means we're going in the wrong direction.

Nat Irvin, a futurist and professor of management at the University of Louisville, said that bolstering education needs to be a top priority because the economy of the future will require people to be able to adapt to change. …

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