Lt. Governor Dan Patrick plans to eliminate tenure at UT-Austin, public Texas universities

Lt.+Gov.+Dan+Patrick+gives+a+speech+at+the+Texan+Capital+on+Feb+18%2C+2022.+He+addressed+critical+race+theory+and+pledged+to+eliminate+tenure+for+new+hires+at+Texas+public+universities.

Hope Unger/The Daily Texan

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick gives a speech at the Texan Capital on Feb 18, 2022. He addressed critical race theory and pledged to eliminate tenure for new hires at Texas public universities.

Hope Unger, Senior News Reporter

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced in a press conference Friday that he would eliminate tenure for new hires at Texas public universities in response to the UT Faculty Council’s 41-5 vote to support educators’ freedom to teach critical race theory in their classrooms. Patrick also said he wants to change the law so teaching critical race theory could revoke tenure. 

Critical race theory is an approach to learning that analyzes why racial inequalities continue to exist even when laws change and theorizes that racism is inherent in the nation’s systems.

The UT Faculty Council voted this week to defend instructors’ freedom to teach critical race theory after Texas lawmakers’ sustained efforts to ban this topic from school, as it could promote divisive discussions that suggest blame and cause “psychological distress.”

“(Legislators) fail to recognize that these criteria are indeterminate and subjective and chill the capacity of educators to exercise their academic freedom and use their expertise to make determinations regarding content and discussions that will serve educational purposes,” the resolution said. 

Patrick and other conservative politicians like Sen. Ted Cruz have called the theory racist in itself, saying that it promotes the idea that all white people are racist.

“We are not going to allow a handful of professors who do not represent an entire group, to teach and indoctrinate students with critical race theory that we are inherently racist,” Patrick said in the press conference. 

Under Education Code 51.942, Section D, the Texas legislature will add language clarifying that the law says tenure could be revoked for good cause, Patrick said. 

Patrick said if there are issues that the parents, taxpayers, legislature or Board of Regents are unhappy with, the government will have a say in the school system. 

“(The faculty council doesn’t) understand that we in the legislature represent the people of Texas, we are those who distribute taxpayer dollars, we are the ones who pay their salaries,” Patrick said. “The parents are the ones who pay tuition and of course, we’re going to have a say in what the curriculum is.”

Patrick said UT finance professor Richard Lowery has spoken up about critical race theory being taught at the University. 

“He has said not only is it being taught, if you don’t believe in it, you may not graduate,” Patrick said. “When I tell you as a student, you must believe this theory or you don’t graduate or you don’t get promoted because you’re not following the doctrine, that’s a whole different issue.”

The faculty council resolution referenced the University’s core values of “learning,” “discovery,” and “freedom” in their rationale for the resolution supporting educators’ freedom to teach their students about race and gender theory. 

“In a nation that has for centuries struggled with issues of racial inequity and injustice, many students do not have adequate knowledge of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ history and the policies that contributed to inequities, the University of Texas at Austin has a responsibility and opportunity to help build equity and social justice,” the resolution stated.

Patrick released a statement after the press conference saying he was outraged by the faculty council’s vote.

“Universities across Texas are being taken over by tenured, leftist professors, and it is high time that more oversight is provided,” Patrick said.