EducationIssuesDan Patrick Proposes Combating Critical Race Theory in Public Higher Education by Phasing Out Professors’ Tenure

“We are those who distribute taxpayer dollars. We are the ones who pay their salaries. The parents are the ones who pay their tuition.”
February 18, 2022
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Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has sworn to stem the teaching of critical race theory in Texas public universities by changing the law that sets standards for professors’ tenure.

Patrick presented his plan at a press conference in the Texas capitol on Friday, primarily responding to a resolution passed by the University of Texas (UT) faculty council in support of academic freedom to teach critical race theory.

“This small group — they voted 41 to 5 for this resolution — they don’t understand that we in the legislature represent the people of Texas,” Patrick said of the faculty council.

“We are those who distribute taxpayer dollars. We are the ones who pay their salaries. The parents are the ones who pay their tuition.”

Currently, the Texas Education Code requires public universities to review the job performance of tenured professors at least every six years. Tenure can be revoked for incompetency, neglect of duty, or “other good cause.”

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Patrick suggested phasing out tenure entirely with all new hires.

“It’s time that [tenure] comes to an end in Texas,” Patrick said.

In addition, he proposed changing this law to review tenure annually instead of every six years and specify that “good cause” can include the teaching of critical race theory.

Patrick claims state Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), head of the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee, supports him on this issue.

The UT faculty council resolution itself is a response to new state legislation aimed at curbing critical race theory “inculcation” in K-12 public schools. The law does not affect universities.

In addition to encouraging UT leaders to reject legislative efforts to “restrict or dictate the content of university curriculum,” the resolution accuses the new state law of limiting discussions of race.

“Educating about systemic barriers to realizing a multiracial democracy based on race or gender should be understood as central to the active and engaged pursuit of knowledge in the 21st century to produce engaged and informed citizens,” the resolution states.

“[T]he Faculty Council stands with our K-12 colleagues throughout the country who may be affected by this kind of pernicious legislation when they seek to teach the truth in U.S. history and civics education.”

Strictly speaking, critical race theory is an academic discourse that assumes a societal rather than interpersonal definition of racism. While popular or more traditional definitions of racism might define it as inequitable treatment or hatred based on race, critical race theorists see outcome disparities — in wealth, incarceration, or university admissions, to name a few concrete examples — as inherently racist results of institutions.

Much like the words “stoic,” “utilitarian,” or “hedonism,” the term “critical race theory” has also come to popularly include ideas it has inspired and not just the distinct writings of the original scholars themselves

Senate Bill (SB) 3, the bill passed by the legislature to curb critical race theory in K-12 public education, prohibits staff training or classroom instruction that requires “inculcation” of several concepts. For example, teachers cannot require as part of a course the concepts that one race is inherently better than another, that some people should be treated worse because of their race, or that traits like hard work are racist.

Addressing the resolution’s claim that SB 3 and similar ideas for universities could infringe on academic freedom, Patrick accused the faculty council of hypocrisy. Specifically, Patrick quoted a UT professor who claims activist professors at the state’s flagship university are not seeking real discussion, even arguing that students have to check certain ideological boxes to graduate.

“If you question [CRT] and how it’s being taught, to indoctrinate students that racism is not an aberration but a normal thing that happens every day by certain people because they were born that way… their academic freedom stops at the door. ‘Oh, you can’t criticize us,’” Patrick said.

“Academic freedom only goes to those who want to teach critical race theory. Apparently, it does not apply to those who want to teach about our Constitution.”

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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.