by Chuck Hempstead, Executive Director, TACT
Strange as it may seem to some, TACT traditionally has avoided the electoral politics half of affecting public policy. We let the elections play themselves out, then communicate with the winners – the House and Senate majorities, committee chairs and their partisan majorities, and the Big Three – Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker. For some time now, that’s been all Republican, all the time. Now, though, it’s time for some crystal ball gazing.
State elections are absolutely influenced by national elections. We presently have a divisive President and a Congress which has seen the House flipped to Democrat, leading to further policy stalemates. In red-state Texas, we have a controversial Lt. Governor and, now, a rookie House Speaker who may not survive his clandestine meeting in a pay-to-play quid pro quo with an arch conservative campaign money guy.
Two more developments that may invigorate Democrats to vote: Presidential primary debates on television are filled with candidates - two from Texas – promising free everything to push folks’ emotional buttons: free higher education, racial reparations, nationalized health care, tuition loan forgiveness, the list goes on. Second, news of immigration issues and racial profiling – including mass murders – are likely to increase Hispanic turnout, which may lean heavily Democrat as Texas demographers have predicted for years.
Why is this timely? The Texas Legislature (and possibly Republican-dominated courts) will attempt redistricting after the next general election. This is the ultimate ‘To the Victor Goes the Spoils’ as Republicans have assured their continuing legislative majorities for decades. If representative districts are changed, along with the rapidly changing Texas demographics (hello, cities and suburbs), partisan majorities in the Texas House and Senate may change. What that might mean for higher education and faculty is premature, though it might not prevent me from more of this crystal ball gazing in a subsequent article.
Here’s your Back-To-School Homework.
We feel it is important for you to share the Annual ORP/TDA Study with the new faculty on your campus. In addition to helping with their important decisions regarding retirement, it opens the door for other conversations in which they need a mini-mentor: collegiality, service, the role of the Faculty Senate, shared governance, professional liability, tenure……all those things that I’m sure someone brought to your attention after your grad school.
TACT has a proud tradition of providing a “finishing school” for those who will carry forward what we have learned and contributed. To prevent your profession from devolving into all-adjunct, “fill the hole”, any-warm-body-will-do revolving professoriate, we need to get the new faculty on board with how this “job” is different from others. It’s what TACT is all about.