In a list of higher education proposals Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that “unproductive” tenured professors are the “most significant deadweight costs” at Florida universities. That’s why the governor wants those professors to face evaluations, at risk of their jobs, at any point of their tenure.
That’s not a traditional approach in the world of higher education, raising questions about undermining the role of tenure in Florida and limiting academic freedoms in classrooms and on campuses.
DeSantis made the remarks at a press conference at State College of Florida in Bradenton, including removing ‘ideology’ from college campuses, prohibiting state funds from going towards critical race theory programs and diversity initiatives, and having university presidents be more involved in faculty hiring.
The announcement on tenure evaluations builds off of legislation from the 2021 session that requires tenured professors to undergo an evaluation every five years.
“Yes, we have the five-year review of all the tenured faculty, which is, which is good…and the board of trustees have to determine whether they stay or go. But you may need to do review more aggressively than just five,” DeSantis said at the Tuesday press conference.
“So we’re going to give the boards of trustees and the presidents of the universities the power to call a post-tenure review at any time. And so maybe you’re in year three, but there’s a need to do it, so we want to do that,” he added.
DeSantis continued: “And I’ve talked with folks around the country who’ve been involved in higher ed reform, and the most significant deadweight cost at universities is typically unproductive tenured faculty. And so why would we want to saddle you as taxpayers with that cost if we don’t have to do that?”
Quickly, Democrats responded to the proposals.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando described the press conference as “unhinged,” and once again attacking higher education in Florida.
The press conference Tuesday came after a statement from community college presidents in Florida saying that they support DeSantis’ views against critical race theory and other related academic topics that have been controversial under DeSantis’ administration.
At this time, the four-year university system’s presidents have not issued a similar statement.
In addition to the potential changes surrounding tenure, DeSantis said he wanted university presidents to have an active role in hiring new faculty members.
“We also want to empower university presidents to make hiring decisions for their university by reestablishing their authority over the hiring process,” DeSantis said. “A lot of this is done by faculty committees and, you know, they have a certain worldview that they want to promote. Those are the candidates that they’re going to bring in, and if you don’t toe that line, you’re not going to get hired, to be able to go through that process.”
He continued: “That’s going to make a huge, huge difference in terms of making sure not only we have high quality faculty, but we’re not employing some type of ideological litmus test to be able to be hired in the first place.”
He did not explain how university presidents would be more involved in the hiring process of faculty members at the press conference, but a follow-up press release said that the proposed legislation would require “institutions’ presidents and boards of trustees to take ownership of hiring and retention decisions, without interference from unions and faculty committees.”
He also discussed efforts to prohibit funding from going to a variety of programs that his administration finds problematic, including critical race theory as well as diversity, equity and inclusion programs. But he did not get into the specifics on how that legislation would work.
“We’re also going to eliminate all DEI and CRT bureaucracies in the state of Florida. No funding, and that will wither on the vine. And I think that that’s very important, because it really serves as an ideological filter, a political filter. You’ve seen different things.
A follow-up press release added that the legislation would prohibit “higher education institutions from using any funding, regardless of source, to support DEI, CRT, and other discriminatory initiatives.”
Critical race theory was originally coined decades ago as an academic term to “interrogate the role of race and racism in society that emerged in the legal academy and spread to other fields of scholarship,” according to the American Bar Association. But over the past few years, the term has been used by right-wing politicians to criticize a variety of progressive-leaning politics and initiatives.
On the other hand, diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives describe a wide variety of programs implemented at higher education institutions. DEI programs are also being targeted by right-wing politicians like DeSantis.
A follow-up press release from the governor’s office Tuesday outlined the additional measures DeSantis would like to see in the upcoming 2023 legislative session regarding higher education.
That includes, among other measures, requiring state agencies that oversee Florida’s higher education system to “review and realign general education core courses to make sure they provide historically accurate, foundational and career relevant education, not suppress or distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics.”
The proposals also allude to changes in three civic-based institutions in some of Florida’s universities – Florida State University’s Institute of Politics, Florida International University’s Adam Smith Center for the Study of Economic Freedom and University of Florida’s future Hamilton Center – though the specifics are not yet clear.
The Tuesday press release says that FSU’s Institute of Politics would be provided “additional responsibilities and clarifications” as well as a name change to “Florida Institute for Governance and Civics.”
All of the above legislative proposals would need approval by the Florida legislature in the 2023 session which starts March 7.
In a statement released Tuesday, Andrew Gothard, president of the United Faculty of Florida, said that Floridians should be “outraged” by DeSantis’ efforts to “curtail speech, belief and association in our state’s higher education system.”
In a scathing written response to DeSantis’ higher education agenda, Gothard said:
“Unfortunately, we see that once again Gov. DeSantis and his cronies in Tallahassee are focused on spreading lies and misinformation about Florida’s colleges and universities, when they instead could be focused on helping,” Gothard said in a scathing written statement.
“The United Faculty of Florida stand in lock-step opposition to any and all so-called ‘reforms’ that will actually destroy our state’s world-class degree programs and their ability to serve our students. We will not allow Florida’s future to be sacrificed for cheap political points.”
Gothard’s written statement also addressed the governor’s attack on DEI programs:
“And here’s a healthy dose of truth — defunding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs will make it more difficult for first-generation college students, veterans, students with disabilities, and more to enroll in classes and complete degrees in Florida… The words themselves, ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,’ show that these programs are not just about race; they are about ensuring that everyone has fair and equal access to Florida’s higher education classrooms.”
The ACLU of Florida tweeted Tuesday following DeSantis’ press conference:
“The governor’s latest attempt to restrict free speech and erase the history and legacy of discrimination in America by impeding the right to share ideas and receive information in classrooms is dangerous for our democracy and future generations.”
–Danielle J. Brown, Florida Phoenix
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Fine by me. If I wanted to live in the crazy world of “woke” ideology, I’d move to California. DeSantis 2024!
Just what we need, more divisiveness.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Such a sour attitude.
He definitely has an attitude problem, tries to act like some tough guy.
Deborah Coffey says
Sounds like you want a Fascist ideology. If that’s what you want to live in, Russia or China would be good.
He thinks by acting like Trump that will get him in the White House, little does he know he won’t win an election this way.
You should realize that by removing and diversity initiatives Fat Ron will just put his rich white buddies in charge who will just hire their rich white buddies to push Fat Ron’s agenda. AKA indoctrination. You don’t care because that’s what you want but at least make a good argument.
Edith Campins says
“”DeSantis’ lawyers were forced by the court to define ‘woke.’ The lead lawyer described it as ‘The belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.'”
Yes, I am “woke”. Beats being inorant, racist, a science denier and a serial liar.
How often should Desantis beevaluated?
Looks like DeSantis is promoting the Church of Ron, and his appointment of *deacons* will determine the who will qualify as professors, to be used to teach the DeSantis supporters’ narrow view of the world. Can you imagine the low IQ folks, like the Mommies of Illiteracy, being in charge of higher education? Young people will go to colleges and universities out of state.
A good friend of mine is a retired English Professor. A large portion of DeSantis backers can barely put together a sentence. This has been noticed in some of the comments on this site. That this will make DeSantis supporters happy is unimaginable to me.
The very existence of higher education is to progress; it is not the role of education to keep youth ignorant of the world around us.
Ray W. says
In I. F. Stone’s The Trial of Socrates, the author tells of the decision by Socrates to forego a defense argument during his trial. So, the author composes a hypothetical defense argument for Socrates.
“Men of Athens, fellow citizens, this is not a trial of Socrates, but of ideas, and of Athens.
“You are not prosecuting me for any unlawful or impious act against our city or its altars. No evidence of any such sort has been brought against me.
“You are not prosecuting me for anything I did, but for what I said and taught. You are threatening me with death because you don’t like my views and my teaching. This is a prosecution of ideas and that is something new in our city’s history. In this sense, Athens is in the dock, not Socrates. Each of you, as my judges, is a defendant. …
“You are proud that Athens has been called the school of Hellas. Its gates have been open to philosophers from all over Greece and even the outer barbarian world. Will you now execute one of your own because suddenly you cannot stand to hear an unpopular opinion? It is not I but you that will be disgraced forever by my condemnation.
“You accuse me of having been the teacher of Critias and Charmides, the leaders of the extreme oligarchs under the Thirty. But now you are acting as they did. They summoned me, as you know, and ordered me to cease teaching the techne logon — the art of reasoned speech and logical analysis — to those under thirty years of age. You are doing the same thing. You are preparing to sentence me for having taught this techne to the youth of Athens during my lifetime.
“You say my ideas have been corrupting the youth, and leading them to question the democracy. Critias feared I might lead them to question the dictatorship. How, then, do you differ from the dictator you so recently overthrew? You say that I was Critias’ teacher. You are acting as if you had become his pupils. They feared my ideas. So do you. But at least they did not claim to be lovers of free speech.
“The Thirty were arbitrary, and did as they pleased. You claim to be men who live by the law. Are you not acting the same way? Tell me, now, by what law of Athens do you seek to restrict philosophic teaching? Where can I find it among the city’s statutes? When was it debated and voted? Who proposed such a monstrosity, as you yourselves — in calmer days and in your right minds — would have termed it?
“The test of truly free speech is not whether what is said or taught conforms to any rule or ruler, few or many. Even under the worst dictator, it is not forbidden to agree with him. It is the freedom to disagree that is freedom of speech. This has been the Athenian rule until now, the pride of our city, the glory on which the orators dwell. Will you turn your backs on it now? …
“Ideas are not as fragile as men. They cannot be made to drink hemlock. My ideas — and my example — will survive me. But the good name of Athens will bear a stain forever, if you violate its traditions by convicting me. The shame will be yours, not mine.”
What Else Is New says
and he said, “Athenians, do not kill me now.”
Thank you, Ray W. Many of us remember reading those words in high school and university. DeSatan has forgotten the need for freedom to speak, freedom to read, freedom to help students to question the answers.
How did he graduate from prestigious school? Did he?
Ray W.: I’ve said it before – there are leaders and there are followers. The leaders may be good or evil, but their role is to tell the followers what to think, and the followers eat it up and defend it to the death. If there is a book, or a stone that has rules that’s even better. For some, thinking is hard. Also, as it appears lately in Florida, that misery loves company.
There was a segment on a Candid Camera type show, where the show staff put out a sign that said “The line starts here,” with a red velvet rope acting as a gate. There was no other explanation, just the sign. People actually started lining up! They had no idea why, or what the line was to lead to, but they were doing as they were told.
This goes back to whether some people are teachable or not. Definitely not if their brains are hardwired from childhood to adulthood, over decades.
Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to be broad minded. She also taught me to “Not be so broad minded that your head is flat.” Good one, eh?
Ray W. says
I like it. Your mom sounds wonderful to me. Thank you, Laurel.
This smacks of McCarthyism from the 1950’s.
How ironic that this governor attended Harvard.
It’s because of politicians such as him that makes tenure more important.
@They’re cheering for desantis in hell
In history, religion and political science, a purge is a position removal or execution of people who are considered undesirable by those in power from a government, another organization, their team leaders, or society as a whole.
SO MUCH FREEDOM! What to teach, when to teach it, what opinion to have, the freedom never stops.
Angela Biggs says
Fascist Ron will turn Florida universities into garbage. Corcoran and Desantis will hire only their believers and our colleges/universities will become a joke nationwide. Desantis is a vile fascist is the one trying to indoctrinate. He wants everyone to believe a one-sided close minded view of history and not allow people to study what they want to learn. It is such bull!!!!
Decades ago, Idaho became the go-to state for many hateful, extremist white supremacists. The numbers continued to grow and they created so much havoc in the northern parts of that state that finally enough sane people who called Idaho home grew tired of their BS. It took many years to eradicate most of the vermin, and today you would hardly know that so much hate existed there untouched for so long. I fear that Florida is becoming the go-to state for all things MAGA, where right-wing extremism thrives unabated and unchecked. Where the foaming at the mouth supporters of both the orange guy AND Deathsantis converge en-masse in an orchestrated effort to force a particular political ideology on every single segment of the population. Where the sheeple say “Hell yeah, ban those books!” Where public colleges and their tenured educators are slapped down and face legal consequences for daring to present courses that do not further one particular government approved ideology. Where students are told “No, we know better than you and we will not allow you to learn anything about that subject” and “That part of our nation’s history is banned and will never be taught here in this state.” Where in some quarters of this state the likes of Anita Bryant are still held up as some sort of hero for her very public outrage over anyone who identified as being gay, and resulted in a nationwide boycott of Florida orange juice. Where the likes of Rick Scott, who oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in American history could be elected governor not once but twice, and then elected to the U.S. Senate by hordes of FL voters who conveniently closed their eyes and ears to that overwhelming fraud. Where Deathsantis could be re-elected as governor after hoodwinking the sheeple into believing he was some kind of savior after his draconian COVID policies in this state led to millions of coronavirus infections, needless hospitalizations and untold deaths. Florida is backwards in so many ways, and yet, voters continue to support and elect some of the most damning individuals that do nothing but cause further hurt to its citizens and harm to the state’s dwindling natural resources. Maybe, eventually, we will get to the point where Florida citizens have had it up to their ears with right-wind extremism and things begin to change for the better just as they have done in Idaho, but I fear we are in for a whole lot more of the same before this state ever sees progress to eliminate the stench that comes from so much hatred and ideological madness.
Florida Voter says
” a statement from community college presidents in Florida saying that they support DeSantis’ views against critical race theory and other related academic topics that have been controversial under DeSantis’ administration.”
No $h1T. We all saw what happens to colleges that go against Florida’s Supreme Leader. Coincidently (or not), this is exactly why the protections of tenure are needed.
DeathSantis seems to set all his priorities on what the do or do not teach in schools, he missed his calling he needs to get out of politics and resign as Governor and go be a Board of Ed somewhere.
William Moya says
Pierre, do you still think we should all become Republicans?
Pierre Tristam says
We don’t need to become Republicans. That’s not what I was advocating. Local Democrats with any hope of winning elected office should become Republicans. And yes, that still holds, the more so now for two reasons: not only would they increase their chance of getting elected in this one-party county, but they would also, as a bonus, maybe play a role in saving what’s left of the abomination playing the Republican Party on TV.
Your logic is correct.
It can overcome everything but stupidity. The zombies always, and quickly, smell the living — and devour them.
Ask a certain erstwhile mayor. Jesus can’t comment — he’s long dead.
William Moya says
There is a logic in what you’re saying, and it also brings up our electoral system, which is a farce, once the electioneering is done, regardless of which political party gets in office, little changes, we’re de facto one party system, we just get a different musical score. Alas, the abomination, is a large portion of our friends and neighbors, following a narrative created and fomented to hide our history, a social placebo which is becoming harder and harder to justified, and may end up killing the patient.
Tenure should be abolished, no one deserves, or should be guaranteed, a job for life, including Supreme Court justices. Just as there should be term limits on any elected official. Biden is a classic example of this.
Jake: Presidents do have term limits, but do keep in mind, we did elect Biden for that legal term. Thank goodness, and the American public. Trump wants to be Emperor for Life.
@Laurel, everyone knows there is a term limit for the presidency, I’m referring to his 36 years as a Senator.
Jake: Clearly. The good thing about Biden, and his length of service is he is a helluva lot savvier about how to work across the isle than the newbies, who do not understand that they should not hold the government hostage with the debt ceiling just to get their way. Their clueless behavior, and lack of knowledge of how government works does not reflect well on them.
@laurel, Biden no more works “across the aisle” than he knows what day of the week it is. His “length of service” is nothing more than a bunch of flip-flops full of racism and bullshit. Every
American knows how the “debt ceiling” works, it’s to pay for the sins of the past, not the future. YOUR “clueless behavior, and lack of knowledge of how the government works” is us why you think you “know it all”, you don’t.
Donald J Trump says
I wonder if there is any facilities that do examinations of heads. Maybe his could be shipped off for examination.
Mary Jane says
DeathSantis is making news around the country and he sure is doing a great job of making Florida a place where no one will want to come to. His personal beliefs are flowing into his political career and it is a huge turn off to most voters.