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Saturday, November 19, 2011

University of Florida students stand up to Rick Scott

from the St. Petersburg Times Gradebook

by Jeff Solochek

It's not likely that they'll get their demand. But nearly 100 Florida university students are making a point that they don't like what Gov. Rick Scott is doing to public education with their online petition opposing his signature on their diplomas.

The petition states starkly, "We the undersigned, petition the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, from signing Florida University diplomas, because of the Governor's repeated assaults on the Florida Education System."

Some of those who signed added further explanation.

"Rick Scott ruins everything he touches. Stay away from my diploma," wrote Amber Wickham of Jacksonville.

"We need people wih a mix of perspectives and skills in order to have a prosperous culture and economy. This governor's approach is destroying education from elementary through university," wrote Holly Bornstein of Wellington.

The petition is 10 days old, and looks to have originated in Gainesville. Founder Eric Sanders, who has a B.A. from the University of Florida, said he's glad to see the petition, which has been slow to catch on, is gaining some attention. His rationale for starting the effort is simple:

"I find Scott's repeated attacks on our educational system to be outrageous, and his statements about liberal arts degrees not having any value to be ridiculous," he wrote in an e-mail to the Gradebook. "A bachelors or graduate degree is a representation of a person's commitment to bettering themselves via higher education, and what a person majored in matters little in the professional working world. While a degree does not guarantee a career, it is that commitment that employers are looking for, as the requirements for earning a degree are lessons learned in and outside of the classroom.

"With that in mind, I believe that having Scott's signature on a diploma to be an insult to any student that has worked hard to achieve his or her goals and commitment to a more productive life. Scott's 'reforms' mean nothing other than a budget cut. His attacks on university professors by publishing their salaries served no purpose other than to inflate his ego. A state governor that has assaulted his own state's education system has no place representing the diplomas he so belittles."

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