The story at a glance
- Florida’s new legislation, along with the Texas lieutenant governor’s legislative proposals, are among the GOP’s latest attempts to put its stamp on public education.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill that would subject teachers to review by the board of trustees every five years, including tenured professors.
- The tenure plan in Texas is taking a decidedly different path with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick promising in February to introduce legislation that would end tenure for all new state college faculty.
Two state Republican leaders are pushing to make it harder for educators at their state’s public colleges and universities to keep their jobs in what they say would depoliticize the classroom.
Florida’s new legislation, along with the Texas lieutenant governor’s legislative proposals, are among the GOP’s latest attempts to put its stamp on education, as well as a host of other burning policy issues, including redistricting voters and book bans.
A recent report on the latter concluded that more than 1,500 book bans or restrictions were implemented in the last year. Florida and Texas were ranked among the top five states with the most restrictions, with Texas leading the way with 713.
But education came to the fore again on Tuesday when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that would subject teachers to review by the board of trustees every five years — including tenured professors.
Below The law project, teachers will be evaluated on multiple metrics, including achievement and productivity, and performance metrics, evaluations, and ratings. Assessments will also address recognition and compensation considerations, as well as improvement plans and the consequences of underperformance.
“Florida students deserve a quality, affordable education and don’t need ideological activists and political organizations to determine what they should learn,” DeSantis said in a statement. “By instituting strict requirements for curriculum transparency and ensuring accountability of tenured faculty, Florida stands with students and parents across our state.”
The warrant was originally designed to block political influence in employment decisions before taking on another role of protecting teachers’ civil rights.
A spokesperson for DeSantis told Changing America in an email that the bill is intended to hold state institution teachers to the highest standards while guarding against ‘bad behavior’ in the classroom. .
“Political retaliation/discrimination, ineffective teaching and any form of poor classroom behavior are unacceptable to any faculty member, including tenured ones,” the spokesperson said.
Still, some Florida college teachers fear the legislation could have wider ramifications throughout the state’s university system.
“I never seriously considered working anywhere else. Till today. And only because of the decisions made by the governor and the legislature”, Emilio Bruna, professor of tropical ecology and Latin American studies at the University of Florida wrote on Twitter.
“I guess I’m not alone, which means the future for Florida State Universities — and therefore the state itself — could be bleak.”
The tenure plan in Texas is taking a decidedly different path with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick promising in February to introduce legislation that would end tenure for all new state college faculty. Patrick, who oversees the state senate, said a priority for the next legislative session would be to make teaching critical race theory a cause for firing a tenured professor.
“During the upcoming 88th Legislative Session, one of my priorities will be to eliminate tenure at all public universities in Texas. to annuals”, patrick said.
“Additionally, we will define the teaching of critical race theory in law as cause for dismissal of a tenured professor,” he added.
Free speech advocates like Jeremy Young worry that initiatives like Patrick’s pose a serious threat to academia. Young, Senior Free Speech and Education Officer at PEN America, said in a press release at a time when Patrick’s plan poses a “deadly threat to academic freedom.”
“Patrick’s proposal is a cowardly attempt to score political points. This will create a climate of fear among teachers and students. It should be rejected,” Young said.
Change America contacted Lt. Governor Patrick’s office for comment.
Separate controversial legislation in Florida that prohibits teaching sexual orientation and gender identity to children in kindergarten through third grade — which opponents have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — also received support from other Republican lawmakers, including Patrick.
Patrick told supporters in a campaign email earlier this month that he would also make modeling a bill after “Don’t Say Gay” a legislative priority.
“Some may think that parents, myself included, are overreacting. We are not,” Patrick wrote. “If we can’t fight for our children, then what can we fight for?”
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Posted on April 21, 2022