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In defense of McCrory

February 13, 2013

Published here on February 13, 2013

McCrory is not an idiot. The jokes about our governor making Art Pope look reasonable in comparison need to stop.

On Monday, the N.C. State Pack Poll released findings that an overwhelming majority of NCSU faculty disagree with Governor Pat McCrory’s recent proposal to shift funding away from liberal arts degrees to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees. The News & Observer has an extensive list of letters to the editor decrying McCrory as “elitist,” “enslaved to business” and “utterly out of touch with reality.”

But let’s not fool ourselves. McCrory didn’t pull the idea out of thin air. I doubt he has a personal vendetta against liberal arts, as his own liberal arts degree certainly didn’t hurt his chances at becoming governor. McCrory is desperately trying to fix the 9.2 percent unemployment rate — the fifth highest in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — all the while reducing North Carolina’s debt to the federal government — the third highest in the nation, according to the Associated Press.

Reducing unemployment is McCrory’s end-goal. Because he is Republican, he will cut spending as opposed to raising taxes. I am a communication major, but looking around, I’ve got to be honest: We liberal arts majors need to get our act together. If I was faced with McCrory’s scenario, I would cut funding to our arena as well.

Glance at Forbes’ list of best and worst majors, and you will see why McCrory is attacking liberal arts specifically. At the top of the “Worst Major” list is anthropology. Following is fine arts, philosophy, religious studies, music and English. All of these majors have at least a 9.2 percent unemployment rate, uncomfortably higher than the national rate of 7.8 percent. Film majors face an unemployment rate of 12.9 percent.

Conversely, Kiplinger’s business forecast points out that the “Best Majors” include things such as chemical engineering, pharmacology, nursing, electrical engineering and transportation science. The unemployment rates in these fields are less than 5 percent.

One of the critiques of McCrory’s plan is that the goal of higher education is not simply job creation. This may be true in an ideal sense, but I asked several N.C. State students why they are getting their secondary educations. Every single person had the same response: to get a job. Oh, and did I mention they were all liberal arts majors? No one goes to college for personal enrichment anymore.

If you’re yelling at this paper right now because that’s exactly why you’re here, well, you’re part of the dwindling minority.

Dropping names such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg to argue that liberal arts are necessary to make students better employees will not work either. While Jobs credited the sleek design of the Mac to a calligraphy class, let’s not forget that Jobs’ success was much more likely due to his extensive background in software engineering and computer science. Mark Zuckerberg’s psychology studies were only in addition to his computer science studies.

23-year-old Jihan Forbes told CBS News that she has been sending out resumes and waiting for two years to get a job. Her major? English. Creativity in the workforce is a valuable thing, but you have to get to the workforce before you can utilize it. Not to mention that calculus and chemistry also nourish innovation and problem solving.

Do I agree with McCrory’s plan? Absolutely not. Forcing certain majors into privatization is a terrible idea, but this is the only argument that holds its weight. Rebuttals such as “the loss of personal enrichment” or “suppressing creativity in the workforce” fall flat.

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