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.