Texas Senate committees ordered to review college tenure and public school library books

After the Texas Legislature passed controversial legislation that limits what K-12 students are taught in the state’s public schools, the lieutenant governor has now tasked state senators to oversee similar historical subjects in higher education.

On a list of 84 tentative charges released Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick included a directive for the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee to ensure that the principles of what is called critical theory of Race – generally described as an academic discipline that examines the roles of race and racism in American history and how they function in law and society – is not taught in higher education courses. Patrick also calls for a review of state policies on granting or revoking tenure of college professors in public institutions, which he expressed interest in during a February debate on Critical Theory. of the breed.

The interim charges typically include a list of tasks that assess current legislation, but also serve as a template for what lawmakers might consider when they meet in Austin. The 88and The Texas legislature will begin in early 2023.

In a charge titled “Strengthening United States History Requirements,” Patrick directs the committee “to review current course requirements for students of United States history and ensure that elements of theory breed criticism are not currently included in the course syllabus”. It also asks the committee “to consider and recommend methods to ensure that students receive accurate historical information about the founding and establishment of the United States.”

Additionally, Patrick wants lawmakers to consider whether the Texas Boards of Regents have sufficient authority over the matter decided upon and “to make recommendations on changes to the law to ensure that the Boards of Regents have such authority.” appropriate approval regarding the content and teaching of the courses”.

Banning critical race theory has become a political rallying cry for conservatives, despite the theory not being taught in public schools. But the issue has led faculty and staff at the University of Texas at Austin to assert their independence on issues related to the topic. In February, UT Austin’s faculty council issued a resolution affirming “the fundamental rights of faculty to academic freedom in its broadest sense, including research and teaching of race theory and of the kind”.

Patrick decried the resolution and proposed revoking the terms of future college recruits to fight against the teaching of critical race theory in higher education.

“We are not going to allow a handful of professors who do not represent the whole group to teach and indoctrinate students with a critical theory of race, that we are inherently racist as a nation,” had said. he said at the time. “We will change these rules and we will take the mandate to be reviewed every year.” Under current policy, tenure is reviewed every six years.

As part of his interim charges, Patrick instructed the committee to study and revise tenure-related policies, including a review of termination policies at state colleges and universities and to “make recommendations to revise current tenure policies and give the Boards of Regents additional authority to review and resolve issues with tenured faculty.

The Texas Faculty Association, a nonprofit founded to defend higher education faculty and staff, said Patrick’s proposal would be crippling for higher education, Houston Public Media reported last month.

“This is an outright attack on higher education,” Pat Heintzelman, president of the association, told HPM. “We have to fight this in the Legislature, and we’re going to start soon. We’re starting.”

Heintzelman said “tenure requires faculty to hold the bar high to ensure they are performing according to expectations.”

“They have to fight for tenure. They have to meet the rigorous standards of teaching, research and service, and they always have a post-tenure exam afterwards. They are held accountable before and after they get tenure.” , she said.

On the public education front, Patrick ordered the Texas Senate Committee on Education to review documents in school libraries and servers. In particular, Patrick wants an evaluation of the policies for the adoption, placement and review of materials in libraries to ensure that they are age-appropriate and that parents and the public play a “prominent” role. in the selection process.

The accusation comes as public challenges to school libraries over content have increased, with the majority of the debate involving books about gender, racism and sexuality, the Texas Standard reported. The challenges follow an effort by state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, to have school districts across the state notify him of their school book inventories. Krause included on the list about 850 works that he said could “cause students to feel unease, guilt, anguish, or some other form of psychological distress because of their race or gender,” said reported NPR.

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Do you have any advice? Email Julián Aguilar at [email protected].You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar.

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