Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed SB 7044, a measure designed to put a dent in endless tenure for college and university professors and prevent what supporters call undue interference in state universities by outside accreditation agencies.
It’s the latest step in DeSantis’ push to expunge what he regards as political indoctrination from primary and secondary education campuses throughout the state. The move comes four days after the Florida Department of Education rejected 54 textbooks from K-12 school curriculums, arguing they included Common Core or critical race theory concepts.
“It’s all about trying to make these institutions more in line with what the state’s priorities are, and quite frankly of the priorities of parents throughout the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at a bill signing event in The Villages.
The bill passed 77-40 in the House and 22-15 in the Senate, mostly along party lines, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg was the only Republican to vote against it.
One of the provisions generating the most opposition imposes a review every five years for professors after they achieve tenure. The review process will be set up by the State University System’s Board of Governors. But the process must include an overview of a professor’s “accomplishments and productivity; assigned duties in research, teaching and service; performance metrics, evaluations and ratings; and recognition and compensation considerations, as well as improvement plans and consequences for underperformance.”
House Speaker Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican, said the provision is needed to prevent professors from imposing their own ideologies on students.
“There are lots of professors who come to teach but there are some who come to indoctrinate, and they shouldn’t have a lifetime job,” Sprowls said at the event.
Another provision in the bill requires state universities to be accredited by a different agency each accreditation cycle. The Board of Governors must select a slate of accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education by Sept. 1.
DeSantis said he wanted to break up the monopoly of accreditation that some agencies have over higher education institutions in the state. GOP lawmakers also moved to pass such a measure after the head of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) wrote to the Board of Governors warning that Florida State University’s accreditation could be in jeopardy because of Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s candidacy for the FSU president job.
As Education Commissioner, Corcoran has a seat on the Board of Governors, which must approve the FSU hire. SACSCOC said that was a conflict of interest, and suggested Corcoran should resign if he wanted to seek the FSU presidency.
FSU’s board of trustees ultimately chose Richard McCullough, the former vice provost for research at Harvard University.
The new law takes effect July 1.
April 19, 2022 at 11:45 am
Another example of today’s Republican big government interfering in ever aspect of life. Cumulatively ….. it’s disingenuous!
The Bully State
April 19, 2022 at 11:53 am
More mean-spirited, punitive measures and retaliation by Florida’s bully governor and sycophantic legislature.
Is this who we are now?
April 19, 2022 at 12:37 pm
So there you have it. The explicit justification for post tenure review is to restrict professors from teaching ideas that the Florida government does not like. That is the very antithesis of academic and intellectual freedom. It’s censorship. It’s not anti-indoctrination either. It’s “indoctrinate my way, or hit the highway”.
These fake-victim, posturing, reactionary, fear-mongering, power-mad bullies need to go.
April 20, 2022 at 11:22 am
Accountability is always good! One major problem with this law is that as soon as you get rid of one bad apple, a younger (more rotten) apple will likely take their place. The issue also needs to be fixed on the hiring end, not just the retaining/firing end.
Worked in Germany
April 23, 2022 at 9:48 am
How soon will Florida Republicans create camps where the professors who are determined to be teaching ideas that they wish eliminated are “concentrated” for political re-education ?
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