Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: A complete education includes humanities

The humanities and social sciences have been under attack by Gov. Rick Scott and other politicians who are insisting on a more direct connection between university studies and specific jobs. Now an encouraging new report to Congress provides a path to promoting the humanities, such as philosophy and literature, as critical components in higher education and in creating well-rounded citizens.

Called "The Heart of the Matter," the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' report outlines recommendations from kindergarten through college and beyond. It sets three worthy goals for the humanities: provide the knowledge, skills and understanding Americans need in a modern democracy; foster innovation and competition; and focus on global leadership.

Career-oriented fields in the hard sciences are indispensable. But their importance does not negate the humanities, which are vital in honing skills of critical thought, reason and debate. Humanities provide a framework to understand the world, educating students broadly about civics, leadership, language and more. The report suggests a new program to create a fleet of "master teachers" who are well-trained to advance education in the humanities, similar to today's master teacher corps geared toward science, technology, engineering and math fields. A renewed focus on "qualities of mind" would stress inquisitiveness, inventiveness, critical analysis and the communication skills that are so essential in all disciplines.

Less than a quarter of eighth- and 12th-grade students are proficient in reading, writing and civics, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. Yet as the economy faltered, humanities budgets were slashed. Getting the fragmented curriculum back on track requires renewed attention to the basics of literacy, civics and history. The report calls for bridging the gap between primary, secondary and higher education by uniting teachers through conversation, which could bring more cohesion to the system.

Other recommendations underscore the importance — and feasibility — of major changes in the approach toward teaching humanities at all levels. Increased online resources would help bolster learning for all students, especially the disadvantaged. Stronger qualifications for teachers would boost proficiency in individual subjects and increase the likelihood that a teacher has a degree in his or her discipline. More funding for international studies would teach students to think globally. To fund humanities research, the report calls for investment from both federal and philanthropic sources.

Humanities complement the STEM fields, and in today's fast-paced world, it's more crucial than ever to have the broad knowledge base they provide. The report says more than half of employers call a liberal education very important. Scott and other politicians so intent on linking higher education directly to jobs should keep that in mind the next time they question the value of an anthropology course.

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Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Editorial: Progress on Tampa Bay graduation rates

Tampa Bay’s four school districts all reached a significant milestone last school year: achieving graduation rates over 80 percent. It’s believed to be the first time Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties all surpassed that threshold, a...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Take deal; build wall

President Donald Trump says he is optimistic a deal can be struck to shield "Dreamers," the young undocumented immigrants whose lives he put in jeopardy by stripping them of work permits and deportation protection, beginning March 5. His price, and t...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/11/18
Editorial: Trump’s reversal on drilling a victory for Florida

Editorial: Trump’s reversal on drilling a victory for Florida

The Trump administration’s abrupt reversal on its foolhardy plan to allow more oil drilling off Florida’s coastlines is a win for the Sunshine State, regardless of whether it is based more on politics than environmental concerns. Drilling poses a uni...
Published: 01/10/18
Editorial: Welcome steps toward cracking down on dangerous teen parties

Editorial: Welcome steps toward cracking down on dangerous teen parties

Getting to the bottom of the shootings that left two people dead after a New Year’s Day teen party, one a 15-year-old girl, is the job of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators so far have said that the two security guards who fired ...
Published: 01/09/18
Updated: 01/12/18