You Were Right, Rick Scott: Florida Can't Hide from Abysmal STEM Rankings

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: January 14, 2013 3:55 AM

Sorry, anthropology defenders, but Gov. Rick Scott was right 15 months ago about the college degrees needed in the 21st century marketplace. And he's so right today. 

It's official: Florida's STEM credentials really are in the toilet.

Key into the just-released 2012 U.S. News and World Report's rankings of the nation's best engineering schools.

Of the four most populous states in the nation -- California, Texas, New York and Florida -- Florida is the only one without a single engineering school in the Top 10, Top 20 or Top 30.

Top Engineering Schools in the Nation's Four Largest States

From U.S. News and World Report's Top Engineering Schools in the Nation's Four Largest States

In fact, the state's best, the University of Florida, comes in at No. 35. The other three states have at least one school in the Top 10 and at least two in the Top 20.

If you think Florida employers haven't noticed the crushing ineptitude of the state's workforce, listen to Paul Woods, co-founder of Bonita Springs-based international biofuels company Algenol.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Woods as saying that Florida students don't compare even remotely with the employees he hires from around the world. "I can tell you, the state of Florida is not even close to mediocre," he said.

Ben Cameron, a California stock-car parts manufacturer who briefly looked to bring his company to Daytona Beach two years ago, told Sunshine State News he was "unimpressed" by the number of engineers in the job market here. "I know we've got the Silicon Valley, but Florida has NASA. You would think NASA's presence would give universities an incentive to roll out exciting degree programs."

In April 2011, the Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, created four years earlier by the Florida Legislature, came out with a scathing report that first spoke about the woeful performance of high school students.

"Currently," the report stated, "students in Florida perform below students in many other states and nations on science and mathematics assessments. ... As students in Florida progress through our public schools from elementary to high school, their performance declines relative to that of their peers in other states and nations."

Here's what else it says:

* Nearly half of the high school graduates entering Florida's community colleges require remediation in mathematics.

* Less than 25 percent of bachelor's degrees awarded through Florida's state university system in 2010 were in STEM fields. Yet the 10 highest-paying careers in Florida are in STEM fields.

* Industry leaders consistently report a shortage of qualified professionals to fill STEM positions.

Fortunately, none of this escaped the attention of Gov. Scott, whose lofty goals for jobs and economic growth in Florida depend on competitive, STEM-focused state college and university systems.

He should get more credit for declaring a state of disconnect between higher education and the workplace -- widely ridiculed by the mainstream media at the time -- and for the work he's done to restore leadership, energy and the will to make Florida act more like the vibrant state it has become, fourth largest in the nation.

Reach Nancy Smith at or (850) 727-0859.






Comments (5)

7:38PM JAN 14TH 2013
what's florida ranked right now nancy in education spending among states ? 50th last i checked. i don't believe they've ever been higher than 45th. great job republicans.
12:04PM JAN 14TH 2013
Great, Nancy . . . no more journalism majors . . . do you believe you can survive in such a Rick Scott future Florida . . .at least I have degrees in physics and two other science fields . . . . so yes, how about 100% of all university funding only in STEM fields . . . isn't that the logical extension of your shrilling article . . . . that extended strategy should cut out valid university education for most of you . . . . as to that demeaning, throw away opening one liner about anthropology majors, once again you've shown us the extent of your partisanship, the limitations of your knowledge, and the smallness of your words . . . just plain . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
The UnFrank
4:33PM JAN 14TH 2013
As usual, insults rather than logic from Frank. By recognizing Florida's lack of competitive edge in STEM credentials and (biggest sin of all!) giving Gov. Scott credit for trying to do something about it, according to Frank Nancy wants to do away with journalism and other liberal arts majors. Apprarently logic wasn't one of his other two science fields.
8:50PM JAN 14TH 2013
Now, of course, Scott has done what, exactly? . . . with the Legislature, cut university funding over his tenure . . . . demonized non-STEM majors . . . . allowed an un-needed 12th university to siphon away needed funds from the other established universities . . . yes, he's done a lot for education . . . . but apparently all negative . . . . slashing and demonizing education and even teachers before he adds back a little money and ignores the advice of those teachers and his university Presidents (or even allows a Senate Budget Chairman to hold a university hostage to build his own desired empire) . . .

Once again, my SSN fan club under assumed aliases has shown themselves to be just . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Ronald Ruggeri
9:51AM JAN 14TH 2013
As usual, you need to get your facts correct. Governor Scott is WRONG. The US News and WOrld Report shows that in the TOP 10 Schools, 5 were PRIVATE Colleges, and 5 were PUBLIC. In the top 35 schools, 21 were PUBLIC Colleges, and 14 were Private. The question should be - HOW MUCH FUNDING DID THE 5 TOP PUBLIC COLLEGES RECEIVE FROM THEIR STATE- The answer is A LOT MORE THAN FLORIDA GIVES. FLORIDA Politicians, especially Republicans love to criticize the educational system, but they need to put their wallet where their mouth is, and put EDUCATION FIRST like the TOP states due.

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