by Chuck Hempstead, TACT Legislative Director
This was going to be the elections issue: primaries underway; invite your candidates to campus to see what you do; bottleneck among incumbents creating more contested races; busier-than-usual May 24 runoff elections. We’ve even “seen” a female candidate pose semi-nude to garner attention.
All that changed during the week it took to wrap-up TACT’s semi-annual legislative visits conducted via Zoom.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who had already scotched the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in public schools, promised to prohibit CRT in public higher education when the Legislature meets next year. As he singularly phrased it, “I’m not going to pay for that nonsense.” Teaching such would be grounds for tenure revocation.
While he was at it, he suggested ending tenure for new hires. And for those with tenure, Patrick recommends annual tenure review to replace the six-year cycle that TACT was instrumental in adopting some years ago. He says he has the support of Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Brandon Creighton, who filed similar bills last session which remained stuck in his own committee as TACT voiced opposition. During the Lt. Gov’s press conference he mentioned the Liberty Institute, a publicly-funded initiative at the University of Texas at Austin, which is being organized apparently by conservative-leaning individuals.
Opposition to the Lt. Governor’s proposals has begun, including by TACT which has adopted a resolution supporting academic freedom, CRT and tenure. The resolution may be found in this issue and on the TACT website, and will be shared with state officials. Your voice to your Senator and Representative is important to maintain Texas’s higher ed system among the best in the world.