Texas Senate Higher Education Bills Attract Critics

Texas Senator Brandon Creighton recently filed two pieces of legislation on higher education to the Texas Senate, one of which has already been approved - and critics are loudly protesting these complicated measures.

The first of Reighton's three bills would prohibit public colleges from granting tenure to any professor hired after September 2022. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick cites that removing tenure will combat professors who “indoctrinate” students with “critical race theory.” Those who were awarded tenure before September 1, 2022, are able to hold onto their promotion.

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The bill's passage in the Texas Senate is only the initial step in the legislative process. It must also pass the Texas House of Representatives and be signed by the governor before becoming law.

Critics of the bill argue that critical race theory is a talking point for conservatives to tighten their hold on what's being taught in schools. Eliminating tenure destroys an institution's ability to recruit top faculty seeking job security. Critics also add that the bill's vague wording, which allows institutions to create their own “tiered employment status for faculty members,” can lead to unjust and unethical promotion practices.

Another bill prohibits using diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices in hiring. The bill specifies that board members who the governor appoints will have the final say in approving or denying who is hired at institutions and features of core curriculums, along with prohibiting diversity statements in job applications. The bill also includes a “blacklist” of individuals who have violated this law, which will bar them from applying to universities indefinitely.

“The elevation of DEI offices on campuses have only furthered divides and created a chilling effect on open dialogue,” Senator Creighton told reporters in a press release. “This legislation will ensure Texas college campuses are environments that are open to differing ideas, foster meaningful, reasoned dialogue, and encourage intellectual discourse.”