Putting Education Reform To The Test

Gov. Scott Not Apologizing to Anthropologists

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Gov. Rick Scott attends a governors' summit hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in June.

Florida Governor Rick Scott is still answering questions after he suggested Florida colleges and universities should get less funding for social science programs, and more funding for science, engineering, technology and math programs, or STEM fields.

Scott told a Miami radio station that he’s related to the angriest anthropologist he’s heard from so far.

With Halloween approaching, the great anthropology debate is the Florida political story that won’t die (background here). But the question remains: Is anthropology a STEM field?

PolitiFact surveyed a couple folks to see what they think. According to its list of STEM fields, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement says “no.” The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology says “kind of.”

Our own State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan says “it is.” But in an interview between Governor Scott and WLRN Miami Herald host Phil Latzman, Governor Scott said, “it isn’t.”

Interview with Governor Scott

Q: Is there anything you regret about the comments you made about… liberal arts degrees. Anthropology got a lot of attention. Anything you want to recall on that?

A: No. You know, what I said was, I don’t know what jobs there are with anthropology degrees. And the point was, I was talking about the fact that we need to really put a lot of more focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Enterprise Florida says 15 of the 20 top areas for jobs in the next 10 years are going to be STEM so I want to make sure that’s where we’re spending our money and that’s where our focus is.

Q: The state’s own University System Chancellor Frank Brogan says anthropology is part of that STEM field. Do you agree with him?

A: It’s not. It’s not. If you look at all the Board of Governors data, it’ll tell you that anthropology is not part of science, technology, engineering, and math. It’s not part of STEM.

This is about jobs. This is about how do we make sure that our students get jobs when they finish.

Look, I grew up in public housing, I needed an education to get a job, and that’s why I went to school. I think that’s why most people go to school.

Q: Have you heard from any angry anthropologist?

A: Well one of the funniest things, my second daughter, my younger daughter, she’s 26, called me the next day and she said, ‘dad, do you realize that because I got an anthropology undergraduate degree, I was one of the top stories on yahoo?’ She was not very thankful for that.

But I said, well Jordan, what was it like? Did you get a job? ‘Well, no.’

So she got a masters in education after that, and now she’s back getting a masters in business.


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