Sen. Baxley’s Big Idea: Let’s take scholarship money away from college kids who want to major in useless subjects like art, history, philosophy

Florida State University. Credit: Diane Rado

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Republicans in possession of both legislative chambers, must mess with higher education in Florida.

Controlling unruly universities was a lot easier back in Olden Times, when the state contributed most of their budgets. But since 2005, state support for state universities is down nearly 30 percent to a pale shadow of its former self.

So how can Florida’s ruling party curb all that runaway thinking on campus?

Pass laws!

Dennis Baxley (via Twitter)

Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Little-Embalming-by-the-Sea, has a Big Idea: Let’s take scholarship money away from college kids who want to major in useless humanities subjects and airy-fairy theoretical crap like astrophysics and other such egg-headery and give it to the students who choose majors where you’re pretty much guaran-damn-teed a job.

You know: computer programming; accounting; medicine; engineering; finance; technology — the kind of thing your daddy told you to study so you wouldn’t end up a low-paid loser.

This proposed law is obviously related to the trauma Sen. Baxley experienced when he went to Florida State University and left with nothing but a lousy sociology degree.

He was forced to become an undertaker, in thrall to formaldehyde and methanol, and later began experimenting with right wing politics.

Sad.

Baxley’s bill (SB 86) says that if your degree program is on the approved list, you qualify for the full Bright Futures ride. If not, the most the state will give you is 60 credit hours-worth of financial aid.

That’s about half what you need for a bachelor’s degree.

This being Florida, the bill would task the state Board of Education, our top anti-intellectuals, with choosing which programs make the cut. Members include the guy with a documented history of racist, homophobic tweets, and the guy who fought the teaching of evolution in schools, who also happens to be the chairman.

The State University System Board of Governors, that gaggle of developers, bankers, religious nuts, and big Republican donors, gets to weigh in, too, as does Richard Corcoran, who has distinguished himself as Commissioner of Education by exhorting Floridians to “never read” The Washington Post or The New York Times, America’s two most important newspapers.

Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci. Credit: Wikipedia.

It’s pretty obvious which majors won’t make the cut: Art (you can look at pictures on your own time); History (we don’t take no stock in dead people); English (why should you get $ to read poetry?); Foreign Languages (deport them); Philosophy (who cares?); and, of course, Anthropology.

We’ve been here before. In 2011, Gov. Rick Scott, a man of evident low wattage, wanted universities to favor STEM programs over fluffy disciplines like anthropology, which is merely the scientific study of human behavior, human society, and human biology.

According to Scott, Florida graduates too many anthropologists: “If I’m going to take money from a citizen to put into education, then I’m going to take that money to create jobs.”

Never mind that his own daughter was an anthropology major; never mind that being an anthropologist is ranked in the top 10 science jobs with a median salary of 63 grand.

Who needs reality when you can stick it to the powerful and sinister socialists of Academe?

The measure failed that time, but by the Baby Jesus (who clearly would have majored in Marketing), Dennis Baxley is here to try again!

Remember, this guy hates the way Mary McLeod Bethune replaced Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. He said it was “dishonoring those who came before us.”

He spouts white supremacist nonsense about low birth rates among white Europeans leading to “replacement” by swarthy immigrants who pop out loads of babies, torturously connecting this with access to abortion, and had a “philosophical objection” to a slavery memorial.

Mangroves near Everglades City. They’re responding to climate change by extending their territory north and reproducing more rapidly. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

While Rick Scott envisioned a science-heavy curriculum, Brother Baxley isn’t so sure about that, either. In 2017 and again in 2019, he introduced bills mandating the “balanced” teaching of evolution and climate change.

Perhaps he’d also like schools to present the other side of such controversies as gravity, heliocentrism, and the composition of the moon, i.e. is it, in fact, comprised of tasty Sage Derby?

God knows what courses the BOE, the BOG, and Baxley would like to see get full funding, but you can bet that, given their hostility to critical thinking, deft use of language, and hostility to education as a means by which to create engaged, questioning, informed citizens, perhaps these new college classes might make the grade:

Mickey D’s 101: Teaches you to ask “Do you want fries with that?” and “Whipped cream on your Macchiato?” in Spanish, French, Arabic, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Gives tips on how to ignore the fact that corporate executives are paid 320 times your salary, and surviving on minimum wage until you’re 65.

Intro to History — God Likes America Best: Corrects the “woke” narrative that’s ruining the country. Native Americans were happy to share their land with the nice white people. Other countries suck.

Ayn Rand for Dummies: OK, once you’re past 9th grade, Ayn Rand is always for dummies, but ingest enough of it and you can be assured of employment as an economic strategist for any member of Congress from Florida or Texas.

The War of Northern Aggression: Slaps down wicked lies about Christian plantation owners who sometimes let enslaved people go to church and only seceded because the evil Yankees invaded the sacred homeland.

In a team-building exercise, students will take copies of the “1619 Project” to a public place and burn them.

White Men Are the Best! Course prepares a student for a job in public, charter, and religious school teaching, emphasizing facts such as that the Founding Fathers all loved their slaves (not in that way), white men invented all the science worth knowing, and white men won all the wars.

Advanced Owning the Libs: Most professors are pinkos, so students must learn how to counter their propaganda on campus. When a prof uses the phrase “systemic racism,” bring up the fact that Martin Luther King was a Republican. If they hit you with examples of vicious capitalism, call Sean Hannity and tell him you’re being subjected to communist brainwashing.

This class opens up high-paying opportunities in talk radio.

As Sen. Baxley reminds all you young people out there, sure, pursue your pointless “passion” for Ancient Greek or English Lit or Quantum Mechanics, but be prepared to pay.

If God had wanted y’all to study that junk, He wouldn’t have invented the Free Market.

Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.