Science education & Florida’s economy

The Orlando Sentinel recently published an article about the sorry state of Florida’s economy. After depending on population growth and finally seeing that tank, the question is what does the state do now? The establishment of bio-tech centers (Burnham and Scripps, for example) looks promising, but there are some fatal flaws with this plan. That’s where education — with science education a big part of that — comes in:

The state has lagged behind competitors in nurturing the kind of educated labor pool required by high-tech manufacturing, information technology, bio-tech, renewable energy and other emerging industries.

Enterprise Florida, the state’s chief economic development agency, concluded as much in a 2008 report assessing Florida’s economic competitiveness. It said the state remains “an aspiring tech hub” that is hampered by weaknesses in the so-called “knowledge economy.”

Translation? Compared to competitors, Florida has fewer scientists, engineers and highly-skilled workers. Companies here spend less on research and development, the state produces fewer patents and venture capitalists invest less money.

“Florida’s knowledge economy,” the authors wrote, “underperforms both domestically and globally.”

State Sen. Dan Gelber, D- Miami Beach, said Florida has failed to create an educational system that prepares students for a 21st Century economy.

He and others would funnel more money toward all levels of education and beef up technical offerings for students who weren’t going to college.

Such a transformation isn’t going to happen overnight, if it happens at all. Florida’s leaders and decision makers are merely giving science education lip service. It’s going to take monumental effort to put science education on the right track in this state, and I am having trouble seeing that happen considering how easy it is to propogate anti-science garbage in the highest levels of state government (example, example, example). Also see the Bridge to Tomorrow blog for ongoing commentary on the progress — or lack thereof — of science education in Florida.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Science education & Florida’s economy

  1. Jonathan Smith says:

    Funny you should mention Burnham and Scripps, I will repeat my posting from the “Bridge to Tomorrow” blog.

    Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a convention in Orlando which featured new industries recently located in the central Florida area. I spoke with several people who were representing a local biotech research company employing around 900 people They told me candidly that their work force, even in the remedial entrance level positions, is made up of less than 8% of Florida high school graduates.
    Not a very impressive statistic by any standards, our students deserve better.

Comments are closed.