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.