Gov. DeSantis proposes changes to teacher tenure review process

Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling on Florida colleges and universities to ramp up their tenure review process of faculty and staff.
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 8:16 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling on Florida colleges and universities to ramp up their tenure review process of faculty and staff.

University Faculty of Florida Florida State University Chapter president Matthew Lata, however, said the process is already rigorous and said the governor is looking to bypass the peer evaluation step and give more power to the board of trustees in the process.

The review process for tenure at FSU is every three years and every five years.

“The panel makes recommendations to the administration, then the provost to the president, and the president will ultimately decide if their tenure is confirmed by the board of trustees,” Lata said.

Under the governor’s new proposal, Lata said faculty would be evaluated on whether or not “they are obeying state laws” such as the “Stop Woke Act” and the “Parental Rights in Education Act” among others.

“We won’t know what we’re supposed to teach and what we’re not because it’s not specified,” Lata said.

Lata said if the tenure evaluation process becomes entangled with politics it will make attracting the “best and brightest” faculty, and graduate students to universities much more difficult and could put teachers in jeopardy of getting tenure based on new evaluation requirements.

“They want to study with professors who are going to be stable, who are well known and who are dedicated to their departments and by implication, to their students,” Lata said. “We will jeopardize our national rankings so we certainly encourage the governor and the commissioner of education to take a hard look at the ramifications of what they’re doing.”

Lata said that tenure is vital to all universities because it provides a faculty that “are immensely loyal to their institutions.”

“What the governor is calling for already exists,” Lata said. “He’s ultimately bypassing the peers in those fields and universities of those faculty members who are being examined.”

Lata said these changes could lead to faculty up for tenure consideration being critiqued on “political criteria.”

“Does our teaching align with the governor’s politics, and that’s not exactly what we’re here for,” Lata said.

Lata said the tenure evaluation process takes into consideration a professor’s “productivity, teaching and service.”

The UFF holds three-year and five-year reviews for tenure consideration.

“Tenure just means that they cannot get rid of you except for cause and cause can be misbehavior or failure to perform,” Lata said.