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October 21, 2011 4:48 PM Florida Governor Demands Employment Information from State Universities

By Daniel Luzer

The governor of Florida, Rick Scott, decided recently that now he wants job placement data from state universities. According to an article by Nathan Crabbe in the Gainesville Sun:

Gov. Rick Scott has sent a detailed list of questions to state university officials, asking for information on issues related to whether graduates are prepared for the job market.
Scott’s letter includes questions on salaries, asking for the job description, total wages, number of courses taught and measurable goals for the 50 highest-paid university employees in the past three years. It also asks if universities have measurable goals in areas such as student success after graduation and the number of graduates who remain in Florida.

While obviously state colleges should and do provide a great variety of information to the state (the state, in return, should probably fund them generously, but that’s another story), something about this is a little unsettling.

Aside from vagaries about he thinks “the only way to ensue increasingly levels if performance is by measuring outcomes using objective, data-driven criteria,” Scott did not explain in the letter what he plans to do with that information if and when universities decide to supply it.

If you ask an institution to supply information about an issue, the assumption is that the institution is responsible for that issue. But why is “the number of graduates who remain in Florida post graduation” up to the university? Why should it care? And why should a university have measurable goals to meet employers’ current needs? These are not vocational schools.

In addition, none of the questions had to do with measuring student learning at Florida state universities, which is, arguably, the only relevant thing to measure.

This follows a threat Scott made earlier this month to cut funding for social sciences and the liberal arts.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

Comments

  • Crissa on October 22, 2011 1:46 AM:

    There is something to be said about measuring whether colleges' graduates become gainfully employed in their field...

    ...But none of these questions seem to address that.

    Top 50 employees?

  • Mark Johnson-Lewis on October 22, 2011 1:52 PM:

    Not sure why he's asking the universities for that info, when the state already has it. He just needs to tell the FLDOE to run the data.

    Which tells me that this is really just posturing by Scott - and he doesn't really want to information, he just wants to shake some trees and see what falls out.

  • POed Lib on October 23, 2011 7:51 PM:

    The top 50 employees are the coaches of various teams. The salaries paid to football and basketball coaches are obscene, and these people do NOTHING to educate students. I have worked in universities of various types for 30 years, and have watched the salaries rise and rise and rise. Force coaches to get paid like professors. In some cases, that would be a 90% cut in their salaries.

  • 7thgenFLNative on October 23, 2011 10:23 PM:

    PO'd Lib - that is probably true at most Florida state universities, except for two; UF and New College. New College doesn't have any athletic programs, and UF funds theirs entirely through the UF Athletic Association, a private, non-profit that takes no taxpayer dollars and in fact returns money to the university to fund student scholarships. It is almost a certainty, however, that Scott is up to some mischief.

  • POed Lib on October 24, 2011 12:07 AM:

    FLNative:

    Thanks for your note. I am aware that the athletic departments in most universities structure things that way, so that the coach is part of the athletic department, which is related in some distant way (in the corporation) to the university. However, when Pete Carroll was at USC, he was making 4 million/year. I saw one table showing all the coaches making more than 1 million/year, and it had about 30 names on it. Let's be very clear - if that money is there, it could be going to scholarships. The university presidents have long ago ceded all authority over coach payouts, and it is wrong to have done so. This kind of money is obscene, and should not be in the college game.

    However, it is also true that Scott, a criminal himself, it up to some mischief. The guy is a force for evil.

  • John on October 24, 2011 9:19 AM:

    As a data analyst at a liberal arts college, I often am asked to fulfill data requests like this, and it turns out to be extraordinarily difficult to track students once they leave campus. Their email addresses change, they often move frequently in the first few years out of college, and response rates to alumni surveys and other follow-up surveys tend to be very low. Moreover, rather than starting on their *career* path immediately after graduation, many students get jobs that they intend to hold only for a couple of years before going to graduate school for a degree that will put them into a career (law, medicine, etc.)

    In short, setting aside the merits of these kinds of data requests, they are fraught with numerous practical problems in terms of getting quality data.