Putting Education Reform To The Test

Education Leader Criticizes Gov. Scott’s $10K Degree Challenge As More Colleges Sign On


Governor Rick Scott announces the “$10,000 Degree Challenge” at St. Petersburg College.

More community colleges are accepting Gov. Rick Scott’s challenge to create $10,000 bachelor’s degree programs.

Scott issued the challenge Monday, calling on colleges to create affordable programs in high-demand areas like information technology, education, and engineering.

Already more than half of the 28 institutions that comprise the Florida College System have announced they will consider the proposal.

But the vice chairman of the State Board of Education criticized the plan in a letter to Scott.

Roberto Martinez said it was a well-intentioned but bad idea to ask colleges “to issue a $10,000 bachelor’s degree without commensurately increasing state funding.”

He wrote, “With the deep budget cuts over the last five years, it is difficult to conceive cutting the cost of instruction even further while maintaining a quality education.”

Here is a portion of Martinez’ letter:

The “$10,000 Bachelor’s Degree” is not a serious policy. It will be perceived as a gimmick pretending to be a policy used as a sound bite, and merely copying the plan announced last year by Governor Perry of Texas.

The cost of a Bachelor’s Degrees at many of our colleges cost the students on average approximately $12,000. Reducing this further, to create a cheap four-year degree, will undermine the quality and value of the education, hurting our students’ chances to compete successfully in our 21st Century economy.

Texas, the state that announced the “$10,000 Bachelor’s Degree,” does not have the quality of the colleges found in Florida. Our colleges are recognized as the best, not just because of their access and affordability, but also because of their productivity, the quality of their instruction, and the value of their education.

Scott’s proposal is getting mixed reactions.

Editorial writers in Tampa say the idea is worthy. In Miami, they referred to it as a shell game.

The folks in Ft. Lauderdale like the challenge, while a columnist in Orlando called it absurd.

Gov. Scott said he understands the need to keep college affordable as a former community college student himself.

“As I travel the state, families tell me that they care about three things – getting a good job, a quality education, and enjoying a low cost of living,” Scott said. “I know how important it is for us to keep costs low while working to connect students with degree fields that prepare them for great careers.”


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