Wednesday, June 20, 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: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18