Florida Abolishes Professor Tenure

Because they're indoctrinating the youth with their biased agendas and liberal, unfactual diastribes.

WTPV, West Palm Beach’s NBC5 (“Tenured professors in Florida must undergo 5-year review, under new law“):

Florida’s governor on Tuesday announced major reforms to the state’s academic tenure system, which until now has essentially offered lifetime job security to college and university professors.

Speaking in The Villages, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 7051 — officially called the Postsecondary Education bill — into law.

DeSantis said the legislation is designed to hold higher education accountable by requiring tenured educators to undergo a review every five years.

“We need to make sure the faculty are held accountable and that they don’t just have tenure forever without having any type of ways to hold them accountable or evaluate what they’re doing,” DeSantis said.

Tenure in which there is a review every five years isn’t tenure, it’s term labor. Still, a five-year contract that’s presumed renewable so long as one’s peers agree that you’re meeting basic performance standards isn’t unreasonable. Indeed, my institution operates that way on three-year contracts and I don’t find it onerous.

Under the new law, which will go into effect on July 1, tenured faculty will be reviewed by a college or university’s Board of Trustees on a five-year basis.

The Board of Trustees?! Professors are going to be evaluated on their competence by a bunch of businessmen, athletes, and others who lack the credentials to teach at the college level? That’s rather problematic.

Calling this the “most significant tenure reform” in the country, DeSantis on Tuesday said the goal of the legislation is to ensure productivity among professors and prevent them from indoctrinating students with their own biases.

“Tenure was there to protect people so that they could do ideas that maybe would cause them to lose their job or whatever — academic freedom,” DeSantis said. “Now you’re gonna be in a situation where, OK, if the productivity is not there, if you’re not adding anything, then you can go your separate ways.”

First, this guy graduated Yale and Harvard Law. Why does he sound like an illiterate?

Second, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect some level of “productivity” from tenured full professors. But on what basis would a board of trustees evaluate that? Different fields have very different expectations. Scholarly articles can take years to go from research to print and an academic press book can easily take more than five years.

No, I suspect it’s the “indoctrination” piece, not “productivity,” that’s behind the bill. Indeed, one would think DeSantis and company would be perfectly happy to see fewer scholarly articles published.

Until now, tenured faculty could only be fired for justifiable causes or severe misconduct.

Oh, the horrors.

“If we’re paying an institution to guide me and expand my mind, should we not be able to hold that institution accountable?” said Taylor Walker, a Florida State University student who spoke to Tuesday’s news conference. “When so many in this world, especially in academia, will put their own biased agendas over excellence, it’s refreshing to see a government that applies standards to mitigate injustice.”

That’s a keen insight right there. I mean, how are we going to expand young Walker’s mind if we’re filling it with ideas that differ from his own?

Outgoing Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran claimed professors often inject their personal opinions on two of his children in college.

“They’ll tell me something that the professor said. And I’ll say, that’s just the most liberal, unfactual diatribe. Why didn’t you say something? And they literally say, ‘I want to get a good grade,'” Corcocan said. “That’s a horrible institution. That’s not free speech.”

Actually, that’s the very definition of free speech.

The United Faculty of Florida responded to the law signing, saying DeSantis is “playing political games with the futures of over a million of Florida’s students.”

“Tenure protects the right of faculty to teach and research honestly and accurately without the threat of politicians who would fire them for doing their jobs, and it protects the rights of students to learn about whatever interests them without being told by big government how to live their lives,” UFF President Dr. Andrew Gothard said in a written statement.

It’s more than that. Florida is home to many fine universities and the heart of any university is its faculty. Granting that the academic job market has been dreadful for three decades now, why would anyone take a tenure-track job at Florida or Florida State and be subject to the whims of a political board of trustees if they can get one in a state that has real tenure? Why would a star faculty member at one of those schools stay when they have an offer from elsewhere? This will seriously hollow out those schools.

Gothard argued that all higher education faculty members — tenured or not — already undergo an extensive performance review process and “are already held accountable by their peers and employers.”

Of course they are. Despite the mythology, there are very few professors, indeed, who are lecturing from yellowed notes that haven’t been updated since they were hired in the late 1970s. Academia attracts people who are intensely interested in their subject matter and want to stay current. Hell, most retired professors continue to do research and write.

“The only missing piece in that equation is that tenured faculty cannot be fired for political reasons, meaning the passing whims of the latest politician in power cannot be used to harm the future of Florida’s students and institutions,” Gothard said. “Gov. DeSantis made it clear today that controlling the thoughts and actions of the higher education community is more important to him than the quality of education Florida’s students receive.”

Again, DeSantis went to Yale and Harvard Law. While he may not understand academia, he’s clearly aware of the value of higher education. My guess is that he encountered a professor or three in New Haven and Cambridge who were more liberal than he and somehow survived with his values intact. So, this is almost surely more about signaling to the rubes than anything else. But it’s truly harmful to his state’s university system.

FILED UNDER: Academia, Education, Higher Ed
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    First, this guy graduated Yale and Harvard Law. Why does he sound like an illiterate?

    Consider his intended audience.

    21
  2. CSK says:

    When I was young, a very distinguished professor of my acquaintance once confided to me that tenure decisions were made on the basis not of scholarship and teaching, but of do-we-want-to-have-lunch-with-this-person-for-the-next-30-years.

    7
  3. MarkedMan says:

    Another fine example of Republican governance. Why anyone wants to live in a Republican controlled state is beyond me.

    7
  4. Jon says:

    Pretty much everything DeSantis does is deeply based in identity politics and/or virtue (vice?) signaling, and it is all done while he loudly denounces identity politics and virtue signaling.

    What a world.

    11
  5. James Joyner says:

    @CSK:

    When I was young, a very distinguished professor of my acquaintance once confided to me that tenure decisions were made on the basis not of scholarship and teaching, but of do-we-want-to-have-lunch-with-this-person-for-the-next-30-years.

    A lot of hiring decisions are made on that basis as well. Which is perfectly reasonable but obviously brings some significant bias into the equation.

    5
  6. Jen says:

    Florida is cementing its place as home of “Florida Man/Florida Woman.”

    Let’s see if I’m successful at the embed:

    1
  7. Jen says:

    Hmmm

    Maybe this? https://youtu.be/xiTM2HQ0g98

    2
  8. Modulo Myself says:

    The rubes here aren’t backwater hicks living in the panhandle. No, they own condos and are refusing to pay the costs to fix the building, because what could possibly go wrong? DeSantis is way too greasy and humorless to beat Trump, but he knows his audience and how positive they feel about their own self-interest. And five years is a lifetime–there’s no way any of this will happen as planned. In five years, we’re going to be hearing endless whines about how wrong it is to cancel somebody just because they were on twitter 24/7 accusing teachers of being groomers in 2022. This is just another move on the rage dial.

    5
  9. CSK says:

    This applies only to public Florida universities, correct? DeSantis has no jurisdiction over private schools.

    3
  10. Barry says:

    @CSK: Yet.

  11. grumpy realist says:

    I suspect that quite a few Florida universities are going to lose their educational stars. Why would anyone want to put up with this?

    5
  12. MarkedMan says:

    @Modulo Myself: At the last legislative session, the Florida legislature passed “Don’t Say Gay” and similar bills but ran out of time to pass legislation tightening inspection of condos and other beach side buildings.

    Jim Crow governance: Government is for enforcing the social hierarchies, not for regulating the public good, and does so by creating and fostering resentments against minorities of all sorts.

    10
  13. One of the many things that anti-tenure types like DeSantis don’t understand is that tenure is a cost-saving device. If you hire a prof at X and give them a modest bump when they advance in rank, over time they are cheap than new hires. If you create a system that leads to more circulation of your faculty, you are increasing costs.

    Indeed, the ability to be tenured is considered part of the compensation, as security has benefits. As a result, applicants are either going to want more pay in the context of less potential security or they will just seek jobs in other states.

    There are legitimate debates to be had about tenure, but the notion that tenure leads to indoctrination is just utterly absurd.

    19
  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    DeSantis, putting the Duh! at the end of Flori.

    1
  15. Mimai says:

    It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. For the past several years, the University of Florida has made a major effort* to poach, ahem hire, eminent scholars from other institutions. And they’ve been wildly successful. $$$ and resources will do that.

    Most (all?) of these new hires came with tenure and probably Full Professor titles. Methinks they are none too pleased to know that the Board of Trustees will be evaluating them. Not only is it ridiculous because the evaluators will know (next to) nothing about the role of a tenured scholar. But it takes an enormous amount of time to prepare materials to (a) educate the ignorant evaluator so that they can (b) evaluate the scholar’s performance. Opportunity cost!

    Speaking against interest, there are a lot of problems with the tenure system that need to be addressed. This bill does nothing to address them. Rather, it feeds into the stereotypes, disinformation, and misinformation.

    And it will ultimately be self-defeating. Which I suppose we could delight in……until we consider the consequences for real people living real lives.

    *A primary motivator was to get a top 5 ranking from USNWR (sigh). Which they did. That said, they also landed some excellent scholars.

    ps, I’m on the promotion and tenure committee at my institution. The members take their responsibility very seriously. Of course, because all of the members are human, there is potential (likelihood?) of bias seeping in. But damn if we don’t try our best to minimize its impact – at the individual level and also with process guardrails.

    6
  16. Slugger says:

    Perhaps my recollections are inaccurate, but I don’t recall any significant indoctrination during my college years at a large land grant university. Of course, the propaganda might have been so subtle that I didn’t notice the manipulation. At age 76, I have the same opinions as I had at age 12. I did flirt with some deviations which included being religious for a while and on the other hand reading Ayn Rand avidly-please don’t laugh; I overcame all that. My children and my friends’ children likewise are very much the same as adults as they were as kids. There were some diversions into cults, but these were rare. By the time one is 18 and in college, the mold is cast. I believe the Jesuits said that if you give them the boy from 5 to 10 they’ll guarantee the man.
    This law strikes me as an effort to reward the obedient future professors by discouraging those likely to deviate.

    2
  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: But Desantis is smart enough not to mess with he football team, and that’s really all most Floridians care about. And, I suspect, most of the students. I assume the vast majority chose a Florida university for one of three reasons, or a combination: in-state, beaches/parties, sports teams.

    2
  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Slugger: This law strikes me as an effort to reward the obedient future professors by discouraging those likely to deviate.

    As intended.

    2
  19. James Joyner says:

    @Mimai: If UofF received a top 5 USNWR ranking, it was short-lived. They’re currently 27th among national universities. That’s really good, with only UVA, UC-Berkley, Michigan, and UCLA ahead of them among public institutions. But it ain’t top 5: Princeton, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, and Yale will be pretty hard to unseat.

    3
  20. @Mimai:

    ps, I’m on the promotion and tenure committee at my institution. The members take their responsibility very seriously. Of course, because all of the members are human, there is potential (likelihood?) of bias seeping in. But damn if we don’t try our best to minimize its impact – at the individual level and also with process guardrails.

    This has long been my experience–both as a faculty member of the committee in question, and now as Dean chairing the college-level part of the process.

    1
  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Mimai:

    But it takes an enormous amount of time to prepare materials

    Oh, I don’t think most have to worry. This will be about some Billionaires hobbyist sending lists of undesirables to the trustees. All others will be rubber stamped. The purpose is to go after vocal liberals, not to trouble those who can keep their mouths shut or, better yet, parrot the party line

    5
  22. Mimai says:

    @Mimai: After writing my comment, it dawned on me that I should probably read the actual bill. For those who are similarly inclined, here it is.

    The language of these things always trips me up, so I’m hoping to crowdsource the interpretation to the OTB community. Here is what I take to be the relevant parts:

    1001.706 Powers and duties of the Board of Governors.—
    (6) POWERS AND DUTIES RELATING TO PERSONNEL.—
    (b) The Board of Governors may adopt a regulation requiring each tenured state university faculty member to undergo a comprehensive post-tenure review every 5 years. The board may include other considerations in the regulation, but the regulation must address:
    1. Accomplishments and productivity;
    2. Assigned duties in research, teaching, and service;
    3. Performance metrics, evaluations, and ratings; and
    4. Recognition and compensation considerations, as well as improvement plans and consequences for underperformance.

    It’s the “may adopt” part under 6b that gives me pause. Does this bill — in and of itself — require the review? Or does it merely allow such a review to be required if the BoG so decides?

    1
  23. Mimai says:

    @James Joyner: I should have been more precise. Top 5 public research university.

    1
  24. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Mimai:

    The phrasing “may adopt” means it’s optional. If it were required, the proper legal term would be “shall adopt”.

    So… this is likely to be a big pile of nothingburger. How many universities would choose to risk losing their profs?

    1
  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mimai: I find “the board may include other considerations in the regulation,” rather troubling.

    1
  26. Jay L Gischer says:

    So…”lying to the rubes about what we’re actually doing” is part of the DeSantis modus operandi, then?

    I mean, Casey v. Planned Parenthood is settled law, right? Susan Collins had assurances in private meetings, didn’t she?

    This is a terrible, terrible way to govern. It’s a sign that something’s wrong, frankly.

    2
  27. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Mu Yixiao: The Board of Governors are the political appointees, not the folks running the university.

    1
  28. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I’m sure the University of Florida (my undergrad alma mater) is overjoyed at the prospect of having to select a new president (previously announced departure) while having some of their most highly-regarded faculty abandon ship.

  29. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @James Joyner: Just so. When I started grad school at Yale, I had to convince people that I learned more at UF than partying.

    1
  30. gVOR08 says:

    I saw this story, I forget where, and have been surprised that I haven’t seen any pundit jump on it, until Dr. T. It seems to me, as a Blue Floridian, outrageous. There are screaming parallels to Russia and Germany.

    There was a second part to the story, not very clearly written, that schools would be required to change accreditation periodically. Applying to a different agency. How many bodies are there that can credential a major university? As I said, unclear story, but there seems to be a hint of the state becoming an accreditation agency.

    A year or so ago a couple of, IIRC UF, professors were to testify as election experts against the state. DeUseless and some wealthy donors went ballistic and told the school to prohibit it. ‘They’re part of my administration and must not oppose me.’ The school administration tried, but failed. The story I read mentioned this as the trigger for DeUseless to try to bring the schools to heel.

    However, it’s wrong to say it’s about controlling education. DeUseless had only two goals, to win re-election as Guv and then abandon the state and win the ‘24 R prez nomination. He’s in a contest with Abbott to find new and creative ways to throw raw meat to the base. Promising to stick it to those pointy headed lib professors in the sweet bye and bye will probably work better than actually stopping trucks at the border.

    1
  31. inhumans99 says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    One can only hope that this is a big nothing-burger, and once again I would have no problem if folks pointed at us “liberals” and said that once again we were over-reacting to something (I have a thick skin and can take it), better that than the alternative, that this bill is a bad as it sounds when you take a first pass at it.

    I have to wonder if you looked at the list of rules that folks in Cuba had to abide by during the height of the Fidel Castro regime, if someone like myself were to remove any context surrounding the rules (how they are enforced, etc.) that is if I would simply read a list of statements that they could potentially just read like a list of common sense rules, if that is what Floridians are experiencing with DeSantis?

    So far, he has passed the don’t say Gay bill, just passed this no tenure w/o a five year review bill, and is in the process of trying to strip out some rights/power that Disney has long had available to them in the state of Florida, these bills start to add up and I wonder when they are going to start making Floridian’s of all political stripes uncomfortable, especially the Cuban population of which quite a few Cubans still are around to talk about their memories of living in a country where you had to follow a set of rules or else.

    This is the wrong thread to say this, but I am going to anyway, I wonder when someone is going to clue DeSantis in that there is a saying that everyone and their mothers is aware of, don’t eff with the mouse.

    Something has to bite a Republican in the rear eventually, as I just do not buy it that Republicans (mostly GOP politicians, I would imaging poor Republicans are not much better off than dirt poor and powerless Liberals) from this point forward are always above the law and immune to consequences of their actions.

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Indeed! Count me among those who will agree that the “academic/research” missions of colleges and universities would probably not be impacted much or for long if tenure were not a thing. I labored among the gypsy faculty for my whole career and saw many talented and able teachers languishing, working from 3-month contract to 3-month contract (Washington schools are on trimester systems) in their attempts to cobble together a wage. Many, if not most, of them would fill any vacancy in most schools pretty seamlessly–and frequently did. Even I replaced a tenured professor out on sick leave for most of a year once, and I’m just a cracker.

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @grumpy realist: Or, it is certainly possible that “stars,” like factory workers and minimum wage employees are part of the same reserve labor army and are pretty easily replaced. (And yes, I DO realize that probably wounded your self-esteem. I probably wouldn’t have said it otherwise./)

  34. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I don’t know if it’s changed much in recent years, but when I was seeking my first academic job, there were literally hundreds of applicants for each post. I don’t think most of them got so much as a glance. (At one point, I saw a batch of applications tossed unopened into the trash by a secretary, presumably on instructions from her boss.) The colleges hit on the money-saving idea of hiring adjuncts to teach 2 (or even three) courses per semester, with no absolutely no benefits whatsoever. Badly as they were paid, the adjuncts were the “lucky” ones; I know a number of Ph.Ds in the humanities who ended up becoming wine merchants, or cops, or running b and bs in Vermont.

    1
  35. Mu Yixiao says:

    @inhumans99:

    So far, he has passed the don’t say Gay bill, just passed this no tenure w/o a five year review bill, and is in the process of trying to strip out some rights/power that Disney has long had available to them in the state of Florida, these bills start to add up and I wonder when they are going to start making Floridian’s of all political stripes uncomfortable,

    Don’t Say Gay is a terrible law, and I hope it gets struck down on 1st Amendment grounds.

    Dissolving the Reedy Creek District would have some serious consequences for Orange and Osceola Counties. Disney currently builds and maintains the infrastructure for Reedy Creek–including emergency services and policing. They currently outsource some of the policing to Orange County Sheriff’s Dept–at a cost of almost $16M/year. That would flip over to OC, becoming a $32M budgetary hit (loss of income, plus added expenditure). I can imagine OC businesses and politicians having a few things to say about that.

    At some point, this will bit him in the ass. And trying to take on the Mouse is probably where it happens. While they can’t exactly move the park somewhere else, they can move a lot of other stuff out (movie production, for example). And they can put some massive force behind getting someone else in the governor’s mansion. Not just money, but the media juggernaut that is Disney & Marvel.

    1
  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You scenario is certainly a possibility, but my experience in Korea would indicate that the outcome is probably not cast in stone. When I would go to conferences where I met other teachers, many of the Korean teachers I met gave me business cards with the line “Professor of (X) at Busan University… Formerly of Busan Technical College, Formerly of Gyeongsang Nam University, Formerly of Masan University, Formerly of Kyungdo University…” One card I remember had 7 former professor listings and the professor in question was a few years younger than me (middle 50s at the time). My recollection from the time was that only a few professors were awarded tenure. Those professors did fairly well (in a nation with a significantly higher Gini coefficient, so wages were fairly compressed), but I tenure was used mostly to lock in truly valuable professors, not to control wages. Non-tenure status for most instructors worked fine for that goal.

    Still, it was also a remarkably different system overall, too.

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: Every so often, other schools take a run at the top 5 in that metric. A couple of decades ago (my how the time flies) UCLA had decided to crack the top five. Their investigation showed that the metric they were lacking on was selectivity–IOW, the percentage of students accepted was too high. To correct this, the school decided to aggressively solicit applications to the point that they received tens of thousands of applications for mere thousands of admissions slots and lowered their acceptance rate below 10% to crack the barrier. Of course, you can’t REALLY keep doing that year after year unless you are a school with a fairly small number of slots (so that mere thousands–or even hundreds–of applications will suffice) to begin with.

    That Floriduh lapsed is not surprising. Everyone who games the system does (except for the schools the game was designed on behalf of to begin with).

  38. gVOR08 says:

    @inhumans99: Best I can figure out, the Miami Cubans love DeSantis. He’s standing up to those Dems, who are socialists just like Castro. DeSantis would probably maintain the policy of punishing Cuba. Bound to work, seven decades is the charm.

  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: While I empathize with your outrage, how many Floridians (or Americans at large for that matter) blue or otherwise, pay anything other than passing attention to what is going on in college/university politics? Unless it’s something like free schooling for KKKLAAAANNNGGGs poor folk, most people accept the “ivory tower fortress” model of what higher ed looks like, I expect.

  40. Mimai says:

    Last point and then I have to go back to my actual job.

    I don’t see anything in the bill that says the Board of Trustees will be conducting these reviews. Perhaps it’s in a companion document?

    This is not a small matter. Aside from the competence point that James raised, the logistics would seem impractical.

    At the University of FL alone, there are over 1,000 faculty with tenure and another 400 or so on the tenure track, most of whom will likely get tenure in the next 6ish years.

    Performance reviews — not including promotion and tenure — are typically done within the department (by the chair or a small committee) or school (by the dean or a small committee). It takes a lot of person hours.

    How exactly is an outside Board of Trustees supposed to accomplish this for thousands of tenured faculty every 5 years? Will they be compensated?

    Regardless, my take is that this is all theater. And we are all playing our respective parts. And tomorrow we’ll move on to a new production and assume our roles once again.

    This would all be rather amusing if not for the fact that sometimes real harm gets done to real people. Collateral damage, I suppose, for our need to be entertained and to feel like we are living in the most epic of times.

    3
  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: To the best of my ability to tell, not much has changed on that point. As I’ve noted before, the union at one school at which I taught got administration buy-in for revising the salary ladder because the perpetually-open chemistry professor slot applications dropped from 325 from the posting the previous year to an appalling 295 for the current year.

    (As to why the slot was perpetually open, the best that I was ever able to figure out was that the administration understaffed the department year on year because allocations for faculty salaries were determined by the number of faculty positions available rather than the number filled. An empty faculty position created about $70,000 dollars in now-discretionary funds. There was probably more than one such scam going on at the school but the “unfilled chemistry faculty” was so perennial an item on the budget that it caught my eye. Especially since we were posting an opening every year, but not hiring a teacher unless there were two postings.)

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK:

    I know a number of Ph.Ds in the humanities who ended up becoming wine merchants, or cops, or running b and bs in Vermont.

    Well, at least they ended up with gigs that pay more than being an adjunct. That’s something to be grateful for. 😉

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:
  44. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Yeah, I know. One woman became a victim/witness advocate. I decided early on that my real vocation was to be a professional writer, so I wasn’t terribly bothered. I think my lack of commitment could be measured by the fact that I wasn’t willing to apply for a tenure-track job teaching 4 classes of remedial freshman English per semester in some ghastly backwater. But there were people who competed ferociously even for those lousy gigs. I could have gotten something like that; I just didn’t want it.

    1
  45. grumpy realist says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Hmmm, I was thinking of people with (or the equivalent of) Nobel prizes. People who can walk out and get another position immediately because everyone wants them.

    Any young physics hotshot isn’t going to want to tie himself down in a location where not only is he going to have to deal with the whole mess of tenure, but in addition on top of that a completely separate set of hurdles once every ten years explaining his work to a bunch of people who probably don’t have the foggiest idea of how to integrate e to the x or what a phonon is.

  46. Michael Reynolds says:

    Most of what I know about universities comes from watching British TV shows involving Detective Chief Inspectors, so as a rule I consider all faculty to be likely murderers or murderees, caught up in a crooked land deal, or engaged in an illicit affair, or covering up a youthful crime.

    I’m not suggesting that either James Joyner or Stephen Taylor are murderers or murder victims (so far), I’m just saying if it’s not the groundskeeper or the randy wife of a rich alumnus, you gotta at least consider them as potential suspects. Crime to be determined later.

    3
  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    No, of course there’s no edit button. Steven not Stephen.

  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: How many bodies are there that can credential a major university?

    I’m sure Rand Paul will be happy to help out with that little issue.

    2
  49. Chip Daniels says:

    When I was a conservative in the 1980s the best source of information I got about the various techniques of repression and control was from conservatives talking about the Soviet Union.
    Like how every university and school was policed by political minders, or how every soccer club or ballet troupe was carefully vetted so only the right thinking people were promoted.

    At the time I assumed the articles were criticism. Now I know they were envy.

    7
  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mimai: You’re right, it is all theatre. It has nothing to do with academic excellence and everything to do with throwing out all the misbehaving people. You know, the ideologically independent sort.

  51. @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Still, it was also a remarkably different system overall, too.

    I think this is key.

  52. @Mimai:

    I don’t see anything in the bill that says the Board of Trustees will be conducting these reviews.

    It is worth noting that it is commonly the case that the ultimate power to tenure or not, along with pretty much every other decision, is ultimately one that belongs to the BoT. BoT’s typically simply ratify whatever the process at a given university recommends. Some Boards will formally have to ratify tenure and promotion decisions for them to become official.

    Likewise, BoT’s are usually the real bosses, in a formal sense, but devolve power to a Chancellor or in some other fashion for all practical purposes.

    1
  53. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m not suggesting that either James Joyner or Stephen Taylor are murderers

    On the other hand, they are the characters we most trust and seem like someone our Chief Inspector Detective can rely on above all others. So, yes, they are obviously murderers. (Sorry James and Steven, but I have to go where the facts take me.)

    2
  54. Mimai says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I don’t think it’s even about “throwing out all the misbehaving people.” At least that would have some real action to it.

    I think it’s about signaling that “I stand up to [insert any number of outgroups]” to certain voters.

    And of course, this inspires those on the other team to signal their outrage, reinforce their bona fides, etc.

    Which of course allows others (but not me…never me) to smugly comment on the absurdity of it all, taking care not to pat one’s back too vigorously lest one pull an intercostal.

    Rinse/repeat.

    1
  55. gVOR08 says:

    @Chip Daniels:

    At the time I assumed the articles (by conservatives about Russian indoctrination techniques) were criticism. Now I know they were envy.

    Putin’s Russia is the role model for Trump and the Billionaire Boys Club wannabe autocrats. I see in Masha Gessen’s The Future is History Putin and his government did a big LGBT and pedophile freak out over ten years ago. Republicans are copying tactics from an autocratic failed petro-state

    2
  56. Just nutha says:

    @CSK: I taught remedial English, tho not in a ghastly backwater. I enjoyed it. In fact, I never taught a class above 100 level until I got to Korea.

  57. Just nutha says:

    @grumpy realist: Okay. I didn’t realize you were hypothesizing about outliers. I thought the comment was about standard faculty.

  58. CSK says:

    @Just nutha:
    You probably had students who actually wanted to be in the classroom. I did a very brief stint in a legendarily lousy private college that accepted students who’d have had no chance of going elsewhere. I recall being addressed as “cunt” and “douchebag.”

  59. Just nutha says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Certainly. But history doesn’t have to be destiny, either.

  60. Just nutha says:

    @CSK: Well certainly, that type of student is easier to find at a community college. In fact, one of my colleges had lots of them.

  61. Michael Cain says:

    When I was twelve I thought Heinlein’s “Department of Applied Miracles” title on engineering and science, limited only to people whom the administration thought were safe, was amusing. These days, not so much.

  62. CSK says:

    @Just nutha:
    That’s interesting, because the place to which I’m referring was a haven for rich teenaged morons. And I do mean rich teenaged morons, the kind whose parents were desperate to dump them in some sort of college and this place was the only one that would take them. Community colleges, while I don’t doubt they have some idiots, seem to attract more mature students.

  63. rachel says:

    @CSK: Holy Hell, where was that?

  64. CSK says:

    @rachel:
    It was in Massachusetts, a supremely crappy liberals arts college that accepted 93% of its applicants. The average combined SAT score was 940. Tuition was astronomical.

  65. Brian Anderson says:

    @Jon: Very well stated. The paradox is mammoth. But most Republican Floridian voters would not even understand your comment, let alone be incensed by its validity. So, unfortunately your correct sentiment is lost completely on DeSantis acolytes. This place has become an economic, political, and intellectual hellhole.

  66. rachel says:

    @CSK: Holy Hell, where was that? @CSK: I bet not enough of that tuition went to making you put up with that for long.

  67. CSK says:

    @rachel:
    No, it didn’t. I walked away, having refused the offer of a full-time position.

  68. JKB says:

    If you wanted to destroy the reputation of the professoriate as a whole, what would you do differently than give them unfettered access to Twitter. Naturally, the more whackadoodle of them will rise to the top of that cesspool. And they define the popular opinion of professors.

    This move in Florida is likely an attempt to overcome the facts that universities change so slowly. It can take 40+ years for a professor to finally leave and how many have they infected along the way?

    See this observation by Joseph Epstein in a 2013 Uncommon Knowledge

    And that is just the ideological damage. Universities now face the harsh reality that their product, carbon copies of the professors, is no longer what is needed by society or the students. AI has reached higher ed. And either universities adapt or they risk being sidelined and returned to finishing schools for elite brats. More and more kids are going to overcome the “school helplessness” inculcated into them from kindergarten and come to learn from the vast knowledge that has been freed by the internet.

    But, I want to go to the other end of the spectrum, which is intellectual services. It used to be, if you wave your Bachelor’s degree, you’re going to get a great job. When I graduated from college, it was a sure thing that you’d get a great job. And, in college, you’d basically learned artificial intelligence, meaning, you carried out the instructions that the faculty member gave you. You memorized the lectures, and you were tested on your memory in the exams. That’s what a computer does. It basically memorizes what you tell it to do.

    But now, with a computer doing all those mundane, repetitive intellectual tasks, if you’re expecting to do well in the job market, you have to bring, you have to have real education. Real education means to solve problems that the faculty who teach don’t really know how to solve.

    And that takes talent as well as education.

    So, my view is we’ve got to change education from a kind of a big Xerox machine where the lectures are memorized and then tested, into one which is more experienced-based to prepare a workforce for the reality of the 20th century. You’ve got to recognize that just because you had an experience with, say, issues in accounting, doesn’t mean that you have the ability to innovate and take care of customers who have problems that cannot be coded.

    –Econtalk podcast with economist Ed Leamer, April 13, 2020