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Ax the professors, hire the senators

(Note: Paragraphs 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9 are true. The rest might as well be.)

TALLAHASSEE

The Florida Senate today announced a plan under which all 40 of its members will be hired by the state university system.

Instead of hiring senators one at a time, as under the current method, the entire Senate will be hired all at once as "professors of smartology."

"This proves," explained Senate President Ken Pruitt, "that we don't need all those whiny, smarty-pants academics who've been complaining about budget cuts."

The move comes in a time of slashed spending and enrollment freezes, in a state system that already has the country's worst teacher-student ratio and among the nation's lowest dollar support.

Already this year, the Senate has been pushing a plan to abolish the existing state university system, created by the voters in 2002, and put it back under the direct political control of the Legislature.

That's the idea behind Senate Joint Resolution 2308, which hopes to trick the voters into approving the university takeover in the November election by including it in a measure creating an elected state education commissioner.

"The voters did not know what they were doing in 2002, when they voted to create a strong, independent university Board of Governors," Pruitt said. "This will return Florida to the higher education system it deserves."

Two prominent senators recently made news by being put on university payrolls. Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, was hired in an unusual process as a $75,000-a-year lecturer at the University of Florida.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, who oversees the committee that writes university budgets, was hired by Florida State University for a $120,000 job to oversee a program that she helped create and fund.

However, Senate leaders said that the process of hiring senators one at a time is too slow. Under the direct political control of the Legislature, the hiring of senators will become much more efficient.

The Senate also intends to create a new "Committee on Who Wants What" to allow senators to propose their own academic programs.

State Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, already has proposed a "department of science, schmience" at each school, where professors would be encouraged to teach their own personal theories.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, is aiming for the new post of vice chancellor for flag-waving. Fasano, the author of several proposals requiring flag displays, wants each professor and student to carry a U.S. flag at all times.

It is unclear how many schools of chiropractic will be created. Senate leaders said it depends in part on the number of chiropractors elected to the Legislature this fall.

One potential trouble spot is how the Legislature will be able to meddle with universities if it already controls them.

"Yes, that's a problem," Pruitt said. "However, we are working on some ideas."

One proposal is to have senators meddle with each other's academic programs, although Pruitt admitted that would "not be as satisfying."

SJR 2308, replacing the independent Board of Governors, has sailed through its committees and is on the calendar to be approved by the Senate as early as this week.

Ax the professors, hire the senators 03/22/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 27, 2008 5:25pm]

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