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Florida Bill Weakens Tenure for State Faculty

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A new bill signed by Florida governor Ron DeSantis will make it difficult for tenured faculty at the state’s 12 public universities to enjoy lifetime job security.

Tenured faculty have had indefinite academic appointments for many years and could only be fired for justifiable causes or gross misconduct.

State Bill 7044 — officially called the Postsecondary Education Bill — will require tenured instructors to undergo a review every five years before their university’s board of trustees. They will be assessed on their accomplishments, research, teaching, and compensation, among other considerations.

“We need to make sure the faculty are held accountable,” DeSantis stated during Tuesday’s news conference. “It’s all about trying to make these institutions more in line with what the state’s priorities are.”

Calling it the “most significant tenure reform” in the country, DeSantis said the bill would hold professors accountable for their actions and ensure productivity in higher education.  

The Republican governor highlighted that the new law will work to expunge “political indoctrination” by biased educators who dupe students into taking classes on “socialism and communism.”  

Reaction

House speaker Chris Sprowls remarked that the new measure will introduce transparency in the higher education system, preventing attempts by professors to “smuggle in ideology and politics.” 

The new legislation has received widespread criticism from state educators. Margaret Strom of the University of South Florida faculty wrote, “It pains me to say this but: I would urge others not to apply for jobs at Florida universities.” 

Boston College professor Christopher Polt said the new measure captures “Republicans’ contempt for educators.” He tweeted, “Florida’s termination of tenure today is insane & guaranteed to drive out anyone who can leave.”

The Postsecondary Education Bill comes a year after the state rolled out a “viewpoint diversity” survey in public universities to assess students’ political beliefs and determine whether professors were injecting their beliefs into classroom discussions.

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