AUSTIN, Texas - An upset Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wanted to send a clear message Friday morning. He made it from a state capitol meeting room in front of a group of reporters, but he was actually talking to those who teach at public universities in Texas.
"So the idea to say 'butt out of our business, it's none of your business,' is wrong. Hiding behind this academic freedom argument just doesn't work," said Patrick.
Patrick was responding to Monday’s UT Faculty Council Resolution. In a 41 to 5 vote, the faculty passed a response to the push back against what’s known as Critical Race Theory. The resolution stated in part:
"Professors are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject. Educators, not politicians, should make decisions about teaching and learning"
The document went on to state:
"Faculty Council resolutely rejects any attempts by bodies external to the faculty to restrict or dictate the content of university curriculum on any matter, including matters related to racial and social justice, and will stand firm against any and all encroachment on faculty authority including by the legislature or the Board of Regents."
The Lt. Governor indicated those who wrote the resolution need a lesson in civics.
"They don'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. The parents are the ones who pay tuition. And of course, we're going to have a say in what the curriculum is," said Patrick.
The Lt Governor promised Senate Higher Education Committee hearings during the next legislative session. Essentially the hearings will teach faculty members of public universities a lesson in Texas politics.
Patrick wants a bill to eliminate the 6-year tenure protection rule for all new faculty hired at public universities. To address those who currently have tenure, he also wants a bill that makes teaching CRT grounds for firing any faculty member.
FOX 7 asked Patrick if the legislation will provide a specific definition of a CRT firing offense. He indicated that would come later, when the legislation is drafted.
He did point out that it may be similar to a bill passed last year that banned CRT in K-12 schools.
"We didn't say, 'you don't talk about race.' We didn't say that you can't teach about slavery. We didn't say that you ignore our history. What we said is you're not going to teach a theory. That says we're going to judge you when you walk in the classroom by the color of your skin. That if you're white, you were born a racist that that's normal, not an aberration, and you're an oppressor. And if you are a person of color, you're a victim," said Patrick.
The Texas House Democratic Caucus issued a statement, from First Vice Chair Toni Rose. She stated:
"Our Republican leadership must stop making major policy decisions based on what’s politically convenient for them, and instead put Texas educators, students and families first."
The Dallas Democrat went on to describe the Lt Governor’s remarks as the "latest series of attacks by Texas Republicans on our educators and students."
FOX 7 requested a comment from the UT Faculty Council and was referred to the university's media relation team. A spokesperson told FOX 7 the Council is an independent group and UT did not have anything to add.