Florida Governor Demands Employment Information from State Universities

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

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