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Senate Priorities Released Today

The Senate Higher Education Committee is considering more research funds for all higher education institutions (one of TACT's legislative items), but also analyzing tenure and history curriculum.

Lt. Gov. Patrick released the 2022 Interim Legislative Charges this morning revealing some good surprises and some expected issues. The interim charges are priorities the Senate committees will review prior to the next legislative session, which will begin January 2023.

The good news is that one of TACT's legislative agenda items lobbied for last session is being considered. The state will "explore the creation of a new legacy fund to address the needs of all other higher education institutions in Texas. Make recommendations on methods to streamline other existing research funds and finance research academic institutions in Texas."

After all the Lt. Governor's discussion on tenure and CRT in the press, it is no surprise, all policies surrounding tenure will be reviewed and all history curriculum will be analyzed to ensure critical race theory is not included. On his website, Lt. Governor Patrick announced his desire to "eliminate tenure at all public universities in Texas" and revoke tenure for any professor who teaches CRT. (See this article on the Lt. Gov. website). The interim charge is to gather information on both topics, which is why it's important to communicate with legislators even when they aren't in session. TACT will be planning another Legislative Day in the fall to visit with legislators so you can let your voice be heard.

Here are all the topics the Senate Higher Education Committee will be reviewing before January 2023.

Higher Education Committee

  • Faculty Tenure: Review the history of and current statutes and policies of academic tenure in Texas public higher education institutions. Review tenure dismissal policies at higher education institutions in Texas and investigate state policies or proposals that have eliminated tenure. Examine the role of faculty senates in representing faculty interests to the institution administration. Make recommendations to revise current tenure policies, and provide boards of regents with additional authority to review and address issues with tenured faculty. In addition, make recommendations on establishing guidelines for the role and representation of faculty senates at higher education institutions in Texas.

  • Workforce Education: Evaluate state efforts to support access to work-based learning and microcredential opportunities, including apprenticeships, industry based certificates and certifications, as well as competency-based education. Assess the potential benefits of expanding access to work-based learning, apprenticeships, microcredentials, and industry-based certifications that are aligned to workforce needs and provide in-demand workforce skills and competencies. Evaluate existing resources and programs at institutions, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas Workforce Commission to support these opportunities and ultimately reach Tri-Agency goals. Consider recommendations to standardize these programs in order increase postsecondary degree completions.

  • Enrollment Trends: Study the postsecondary enrollment trends across all sectors and levels of higher education in Texas, with a review on specific challenges to enrollment. Consider the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on direct high school-to-college enrollment, first-time college enrollment, transferability, and retention rates, as well as the overall impact on community college enrollment. Make recommendations on specific methods to address disparities and pandemic impacts relating to enrollment trends in order to achieve Texas' higher education goals in building a Talent Strong Texas.

  • Strengthening United States History Requirements: Examine current course requirements for students in United States History, and ensure elements of Critical Race Theory are not currently included in course curriculum. Consider and recommend methods to ensure students receive accurate historical information related to the founding and establishment of the United States. Examine the current role of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in the development and oversight of the core curriculum requirements and recommend any necessary changes. Examine current authority of boards of regents over teaching faculty and make recommendations on changes to law to ensure boards of regents have appropriate approval authority related to course content and instruction.

  • Funding Permanent University Fund: Review the history and use of the Permanent University Fund for the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, and explore the creation of a new legacy fund to address the needs of all other higher education institutions in Texas. Make recommendations on methods to streamline other existing research funds and finance research academic institutions in Texas.

  • Teaching and Health Care Workforce Participation: Review financial aid and scholarship opportunities in Texas related to teaching, health care, and law enforcement, and examine methods to increase participation in these and other high-demand fields. In particular, study the participation rates of the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program, the Peace Officer Loan Repayment Program, and the Nursing Corps Loan Repayment Program, and make recommendations on ways to increase participation rates in each area.

  • Monitoring: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Higher Education passed by the 87th Legislature, as well as relevant agencies and programs under the committee's jurisdiction. Specifically, make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, or complete implementation of the following:

  1. Senate Bill 1102, relating to the establishment of the Texas Reskilling and Upskilling through Education (TRUE) Program to support workforce education;

  2. Senate Bill 1230, relating to establishing the Texas Commission on Community College Finance;

  3. Senate Bill 1385, relating to the compensation and professional representation of student athletes participating in intercollegiate athletic programs at certain institutions of higher education; and

  4. House Bill 3767, relating to measures to support the alignment of education and workforce development in the state with state workforce needs, including the establishment of the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative.

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