Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) recently announced that he wants to eradicate tenure for new professors and those who teach critical race theory (CRT) at public universities.
During a Friday press conference about the state’s upcoming legislative session, Patrick said he intends to prioritize academic freedom by changing tenure reviews from every six years to annually. He also wants to give boards of regents more authority to address tenure issues.
It is time to end tenure at state universities in Texas.
Watch my official press conference here: https://t.co/nbNVwBy00G
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) February 18, 2022
“Tenured professors must not be able to hide behind the phrase ‘academic freedom,’ and then proceed to poison the minds of our next generation,” Patrick said. “We believe in academic freedom, but everyone has guidelines in mind. Everyone has barriers, everyone has boundaries, everyone’s held accountable to someone.”
CRT is an academic theory developed in the 1970s to explain how systemic racism has shaped the U.S. legal system. Recently, conservatives have spearheaded an anti-CRT movement, arguing that the teaching leads to divisiveness among people of different racial identities. As part of the anti-CRT push, many conservative lawmakers have recently proposed policies to end tenure.
In a written statement, Patrick specifically named the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, saying he was “outraged” that the school’s faculty council voted 41-5 on a resolution in support of teaching CRT.
“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.”
Mike Collier, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, criticized Patrick’s attack on tenure, telling Newsweek that if the policy passed, it would “destroy every public university in the state of Texas by eliminating competitive job opportunities for academic leaders.”
“Whether it be Texas Tech or Texas A&M, the University of Houston or the University of Texas, we will see an exodus of our state’s best and brightest, doing massive and irreparable damage to our economy,” Collier said. “If Dan Patrick has his way, Texas will lose thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in business, and forever tarnish the prestige of Texas.”
Collier and other critics say Patrick’s announcement is a means of deflecting attention from a recent vote-by-mail scandal.