Legislative budget provides Flagler College’s ‘classical education’ institute a full ride
Flagler College scores big.

Will this become a national model?

Classical education could be coming to St. Augustine now that the Legislature has slotted $5 million for the enterprise in its new budget, the full amount sought by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson.

The Flagler College Institute for Classical Education received the appropriation as it seeks to establish a model “to be shared with other schools for focusing on first-year students, through the classical, liberal arts education lens, as a way to increase retention, and promote a balanced world-view in the higher education arena.”

According to the appropriations request, workshops and conferences will follow once the institute is established on campus.

The $5 million will be distributed a number of different ways, with the bulk of it going to startup costs and envisioning permanence.

Lawmakers slotted $750,000 for a five-year salary and compensation plan for an executive director of the institute. And $3.45 million would go to five full-time faculty positions and two postdoc teaching fellowships. The remaining money goes to travel and supply budgets for the principals.

The investment in human resources is no accident.

The appropriations request prioritizes “strategic hiring of key faculty trained in the classical model of education to work directly with our freshmen students in their first-year seminar courses.”

“These faculty will be trained in how to teach classical texts to first-year students, will promote free inquiry in the classroom, and instill in our students the skills needed to think critically,” the request continues.

In addition to benefits relative to critical thinking and the western tradition, jobs are also in play via student retention that creates a “greater economic impact.”

“We will also be hiring additional faculty, thus creating jobs. We will also be producing additional graduates with the critical thinking skills needed for the workforce,” the request contends.

This appropriation is a victory for Flagler College President John Delaney, as well as for Beth Sweeny, the newly-minted St. Augustine Beach City Commissioner who was the point of contact for the project.

The lobbying effort was led by The Southern Group’s David Browning.

The budget represents the consensus between the House and the Senate for the state’s financial priorities.

It is still subject to the Governor’s veto pen, however.

Last year Gov. Ron DeSantis was thought to have wielded a relatively light touch when he slashed $1.5 billion out of the $101 billion budget.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski

One comment

  • Margaret Koscielny

    March 11, 2022 at 6:12 pm

    What, exactly, constitutes a “classical” education. Does it mean the restoration of Greek and Latin to language curriculum? Or is is an attempt to return to the Euro-centric emphasis in the teaching of history and culture?

    My generation had a Classical education which included Latin and Greek studies, language and culture. However, World history ended in 1945, and did not include any studies of Eastern European history nor any Asian history. It took travel and college courses in my discipline to acquire knowledge of the rest of the world.

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