by Alexa Schwerha
The Texas Lieutenant Governor has stated his priority to eliminate tenure in an attempt to stop Critical Race Theory (CRT) from “poisoning the minds of the next generation.”
During a Feb. 18 press conference, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick argued that academia has been infiltrated by “tenured, leftist professors” and called for additional oversight methods to crack down on the controversial curriculum.
Patrick defined CRT as “an offshoot of critical legal studies, which is an offshoot of a socialist program (which says) that everything that happened in life is based on racism.”
The notion would affect all new hires at public Texas universities and would re-structure reviews for already-tenured personnel to occur annually rather than on a six-year term. Professors who continue to push CRT in their curriculum would risk having their tenured status revoked.
Accountability would also be enforced by the Board of Regents, who would also be granted “more authority” to resolve problems regarding tenure.
Patrick summarized his initiative in a statement following the conference, recapping:
During the upcoming 88th Legislative Session, one of my priorities will be eliminating tenure at all public universities in Texas. To address already-tenured professors, we will change tenure reviews from every 6 years to annually. Additionally, we will define teaching Critical Race Theory in statute as a cause for a tenured professor to be dismissed.
The University of Texas at Austin referred Campus Reform to President Jay Hartzell’s message that upheld regard for the tenure program and assured its relevance in “attract[ing], motivate[ing], and retain[ing] amazing faculty members.”
“We all aspire to improve the educational system in the United States, but tenure is important to Texas universities, and removing it will not help,” Hartzell said in the statement. “The U.S. has the strongest universities in the world, and The University of Texas at Austin is among the very best in the country.”
Hartzell continued to suggest that attempts to remove tenure from academia would have a negative impact on the educational experience of students because it would be harder to recruit quality candidates for teaching positions.
“Removing tenure would not only cripple Texas’ ability to recruit and retain great faculty members, it would also hurt Texas students, who would not be able to stay in state knowing they will be learning from the very best in the country,” Hartzell stated.
The announcement followed a recent resolution passed by the University of Texas at Austin’s Faculty Council that expressed overwhelming support for teaching Critical Race Theory in the classroom without regard for the legislature or Board of Regents.
The resolution swept the council in a 41-5 vote, emphasizing resounding support for teaching “race and gender justice and critical race theory.”
The resolution reads: “This resolution affirms the fundamental rights of faculty to academic freedom in its broadest sense, inclusive of research and teaching of race and gender theory.”
Patrick referenced the vote in his statement, expressing his “outrage” over the council’s actions.
“I am further outraged that the Faculty Council told the legislature and the UT Board of Regents that it is none of their business what they taught,” Patrick stated. “Universities across Texas are being taken over by tenured, leftist professors, and it is high time that more oversight is provided.”
Critical Race Theory has been hotly contested throughout state legislatures. In December, Senate Bill 3 was enacted to prohibit elements of CRT from being pushed in K-12 schools.
Under the bill, teachers are required to discuss “controversial” public policy or social affairs “objectively and in a manner free from political bias.” The bill also took aim to prohibit the controversial “1619 Project” from being mandatory reading.
Patrick’s proposal would expand CRT limitations to the collegiate level, joining states such as New Hampshire, Florida, and South Dakota in proposing legislation to counter mandating the content at the collegiate level.
Campus Reform reached out to the Lt. Governor’s office, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Faculty Council for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.
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Alexa Schwerha is a reporter for Campus Reform. She was the Regional Field Coordinator at Leadership Institute for Texas and New Mexico. She graduated Kent State University with a degree in Communication Studies and Political Science. Prior to her work at the Leadership Institute, she worked for the Ohio Republican Party to help elect Republicans across the state during the 2020 election cycle.