Since Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced in February that he was going to re-evaluate tenure—which prevents most college professors from being fired—the left-wing faculty elites at Texas academic institutions have gone ballistic.
Lt. Gov. Patrick was responding to blowback from a University of Texas faculty committee that balked at his assertion that the Legislature would ban teaching based on the principles Critical Race Theory (CRT) at the university level, just as it banned CRT in Texas public schools.
In their response, the Texas academics dishonestly portrayed CRT as merely teaching about the history of slavery and about racism in America today—but of course, that teaching is already taking place. There has never been any objection to discussing every aspect of Texas history, from the war for independence, secession and Civil War, the violence of Reconstruction, the KKK and the civil rights struggles. In fact, teaching all these topics and more is required in Texas schools.
What the Legislature rejected for public school classrooms (and hopes to block from university classes as well) is teaching that every aspect of American life, history and culture—from the nation’s founding in 1776 to our current status as the leader on the world stage—is rooted and propelled forward by racism. Specifically, lawmakers do not want CRT to be used to teach White students that they are born racist, and that Black students are born victims, regardless of their circumstances or accomplishments.
Dividing students by race, as frequently happens in CRT-based classroom discussions, is not only an inaccurate portrayal of the American story, it also likely violates the Civil Rights Act which prohibits treating students differently based on their race.
UT faculty members issued an outraged challenge to the idea that the Legislature, which allocates tax dollars to pay their salaries, and taxpaying parents, who send their children to academic institutions across the state, have a role in determining what is taught in the academic institutions they pay for.
Those faculty members fail to realize that neither CRT nor tenure have much support outside the fabled 40 acres at UT-Austin. Polling conducted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation shortly after the Lt. Gov. Patrick’s comments showed that Texans do not believe college professors deserve any kind of special protections from being fired, such as tenure. More than 70% believe they should get an annual job performance review and be retained or fired—just like everyone else in the working world.
To the Texas conservative majority, the question of tenure and other issues which Lt. Gov. Patrick has directed the Senate Higher Education Committee research before the legislative session next year are quite reasonable.
How have tenure policies designed over 100 years ago to give faculty members a seat at the table in governing colleges and universities resulted in their taking over the table and refusing to let anyone who didn’t agree with them participate—or even speak?
How did policies purported to maintain and support academic freedom end up stifling the voices of everyone but liberal elites on Texas campuses, ensuring that virtually no conservatives are ever hired to teach at the state’s academic institutions?
How do colleges continue to move forward pushing curriculums filled with grievance studies designed to divide students by gender, race and ethnicity? And how are these professors not held accountable when students can’t earn a living once they’ve received a degree?
How did Texas universities become bloated with administrators whose jobs are defined by the “woke agenda” of increasing diversity, equity and inclusion?
The Texas economy is the 10th largest in the world. Innovation and productivity have made us a global force in many economic sectors. Texans want a university system that supports their efforts to continue to achieve in every aspect of commerce and intellectual life. Texans know this can’t be achieved with universities that throttle free expression and block diversity of thought.
The landmark Kalven Report at the University of Chicago reminds us that the mission of the university is the discovery, improvement, and dissemination of knowledge. To remain faithful to that mission, universities should not be involved in advocacy or activism—and they certainly should not be blocking the voices of those who disagree with the positions of the left-wing elite. Lt. Gov. Patrick is right to say this is bad for Texas—and it is time for it to stop.