The Florida brain drain begins now

Not content with denying the existence of gay people, or policing the kindergartens, Florida governor Ron DeSantis is going after the universities. He wants to abolish tenure.

Every five years, he said, tenured faculty would be required to go before their university’s board of trustees, which could part ways with them. The text of the bill does not give that level of specificity but rather states a five-year review would take place to be determined by the state Board of Governors. Each state university already requires tenured professors to take part in an annual review.

“Tenure was there to protect people so that they could do ideas that may cause them to lose their job or whatever, academic freedom — I don’t know that’s really the role it plays, quite frankly, anymore,” DeSantis said. “I think what tenure does, if anything, it’s created more of an intellectual orthodoxy. For people that have dissenting views, it becomes harder for them to be tenured in the first place and then, once you’re tenured, your productivity really declines, particularly in certain disciplines.”

House Speaker Chris Sprowls called the legislation a way to prevent “indoctrination.”

Here we go. Here’s where they reveal their real agenda.

He also said it would increase transparency with a provision that would require course syllabuses to be posted online, preventing attempts by professors to “smuggle in ideology and politics.” Sprowls said it would prevent students from signing up for a class on “socialism and communism” when they thought they were signing up for “Western democracy” and classes about “what it means to be an actual American.”

How dare those professors “smuggle in ideology and politics”…into political science courses. How dare they teach about other political systems than Republican-approved ideologies! That’s what this is really about, not to protect dissenting views, but to enforce their ideology.

The tenure system as it currently stands absolutely does not allow one to be denied or stripped of tenure for political reasons — you cannot fire someone for voting Republican. DeSantis plans to change that so you can fire someone for being a Democratic activist, or for teaching about “socialism and communism”. Tenure is specifically about keeping political biases out of the hiring & firing process. Florida Republicans are aiming to inject those biases back in.

Florida faculty are trying to fight back.

Currently, the boards of trustees must approve all faculty who receive tenure, Gothard said, adding it is not a lifetime appointment. Faculty can still be fired with cause.

”Tenure allows for due process and a hearing and has typically protected people from being fired for political reasons,” he said. ”From where we stand, the only indoctrination happening right now is coming from Tallahassee.”

Tim Boaz, president of the University of South Florida’s faculty senate, said he believed the legislation resulted from misconceptions about higher education.

The Republicans are also trying to jigger the accreditation agencies, forcing the universities to change agencies every few years. That is insane. Accreditation is already a bureaucratic nightmare, with outside regulators demanding a complete accounting of every detail of the university’s machinery — which is a necessary nightmare, and making universities accountable is good practice. But right now we go through the cycle and we get suggestions from the agency about what needs to be improved, and get goals to implement before the next cycle, and we can use prior recommendations in our next review to show that we’ve been addressing the criticisms. Pull the rug out from under us and change agencies, and you’ll be greatly increasing that bureaucratic workload.

Also, you know where this is going: suddenly switching in the American Bible College Accreditation agency for a secular agency is going to wreak havoc.

Good luck, Floridians. I wouldn’t recommend taking a tenure track job in Florida to anyone anymore. The universities are going to be packed with Liberty University graduates from now on, and they suck.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    I have to laugh at DeSantis’ stupidity here, especially regarding Disney.

    Go ahead Ron, piss off The Mouse. Give the largest media conglomerate on Earth a good excuse to close down the only reason people come to your shitty, gator-and-malaria-filled swamp of a state (i.e. Disney World).

  2. raven says

    He wants to abolish tenure.

    Is this what the GOP/fundie xians mean by “cancel culture”?

    We will add it to their list of things they want to cancel.
    So far we have, Trans people, gays, scientists and science, public libraries, books, public schools, democracy, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, Ukraine and Ukrainians, Mickey Mouse and Disney, uppity women, nonwhites, nonxians, the wrong kind of xians, evolution, abortion and family planning, and now the Universities and tenure.
    I’m sure I’m leaving some of the GOP’s cancel list out.
    So many things to hate and fear, so little time to keep track of them.

    It is more or less everything in the modern world since the Dark Ages. (Oh right, I did forgot to cancel the Enlightenment. I also forget to cancel vaccines, masks, and public health measures to fight a novel, lethal virus.)

  3. raven says

    He wants to abolish tenure.

    This is just part of his real goal which is to abolish academic freedom.

    This is pure classic fascism and totalitarianism.
    In fascist countries, all institutions are controlled by the state as part of how the state controls the population. This especially includes the public schools, churches, universities, and above all the media, newspapers, websites, TV, magazines, etc.. It also of course includes the corporations.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    The real agenda is getting the entire education system privatized a few years down the line.
    De Santis and one of his henchmen have received huge campaign donations from Betsy DeVos and her clan of corporate grifters, who want to harvest the money going into public education for their private “education” (think Trump University, but at a state-wide scale going from kindergarten upwards).
    To achieve this, public education must be discredited, slandered and -if possible- sabotaged.
    Follow the money and it becomes a logical strategy instead of random madness.

  5. raven says

    Ron DeSantis wants Florida to establish its own state guard … › the-reidout › reidout-blog › r…

    Dec 3, 2021 — Florida’s right-wing governor wants the state to re-establish the Florida State Guard, which would serve at his whim and evade federal control.

    DeSantis wants to form his own military. A state army not under Pentagon control.
    In other words his own goon squad.

    And what will the Florida KGB do?
    I suppose arrest people at 2:00 AM and take them to the Florida Gulags to work as slave laborers.
    The first targets have already been selected. Mickey Mouse, Tinkerbell, and other Disney characters. Trans people especially children. Liberal professors. Public health officials.

    They’ve already arrested one person. A public health official whose crime was actually counting the number of Covid-19 virus patients murdered by DeathSantis.
    “Police raid home of former Health Department employee
    Dec 7, 2020 — State police agents on Monday raided the home of a former Florida Department of Health employee who helped build the state’s first COVID-19 …”

  6. says

    Half of the state is going to end up underwater, covered with sloshing toxic bio-foam and the ruins of human buildings. DeSantis is just advancing the clock on Florida’s transformation into an uninhabitable shithole. Encourage them to seceede and then watch the economy crater, you know, to save money.

    I think I saw somewhere that the big insurers are pulling out of Florida. Maybe DeSantis is doing this as a distraction, because if that happens, the state’s property values go down the toilet. That’s also inevitable, but why advance the clock?

  7. PaulBC says

    Tenure was there to protect people so that they could do ideas that may cause them to lose their job or whatever, academic freedom

    DeSantis is living proof that you can “do ideas” without fear of losing your job, as long as you’re a Republican in a red state.

  8. hemidactylus says

    I find it ironic Desantis is battling wokeness (antiracism) and at the same time acting in a racist manner to yank black districts away. Maybe the person he worries will be made to feel uncomfortable when highlighting historic racism is himself.

    Maybe Demings is in his crosshairs for her temerity in taking on Rubio for Senate. He is a very punitive fellow. Ask the mouse. Full blown authoritarian.

  9. hemidactylus says

    As for his fight with Disney…before this confrontation ensued I would have thought eliminating Disney’s special status under Reedy Creek a very good thing. Are other theme parks treated specially like that? But I don’t like the way the path to special status elimination came about in this situation. Too bad there’s no clear mutually assured destruction between Desantis and Disney.

  10. Doc Bill says

    Here in Texas, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (former radio talk show host, failed businessman and religious nut who said the elderly should sacrifice their lives for the sake of the economy during Covid) has written the same thing about tenure. Right down to the five year review. He also added that teaching “critical race theory” would be grounds for dismissal.

    It’s the same blueprint. I doubt that neither Patrick nor DeathSantis are smart enough to come up with this on their own. I smell a Patriotic Front Eagle Mothers Foundation for Liberty behind this stuff. It has to be boilerplate coming out of some fetid “conservative” troll farm.

  11. skeptuckian says

    What they are doing is not based upon misconception of anything. Their conception of public education is that they don’t want it. The laws affecting K-16 are following the pattern of damaging and disintegrating public education.

  12. JM says

    Switching accreditation agencies sounds more like a Grover Norquist strategy more then a religious one. Norquist has highly developed the strategy of killing the schools and government by forcing terrible money wasting policy on them. Things that sound good or at least vaguely plausible on paper but are counter productive in practice. This idea can be pushed as making schools higher quality because they have to prove their status to different agencies. In practice all the extra paperwork and time spent will reduce the quality of schools.

  13. PaulBC says

    If I were governor of Florida looking at its universities, my priority would be to make them better, not worse. It’s the 3rd most populous state, and its per capita GDP is much lower than the other 4 “mega states” including Texas. It’s home to the latest “next Silicon Valley” fantasies and who knows, you might get something like that going if you can attract enough entrepreneurs and tech people to work there. But it takes more than low rent and beaches to accomplish it. Great universities provide a lot of “bang for buck.”

    I admit I have no direct experience with Florida universities. My impression is that they’re fairly mediocre, and lack a public flagship on the order of say UT Austin or (again Texas) a private university with the prestige of Rice. Hmm… OK, US News ranks University of Florida, Gainesville higher than UT Austin so maybe I’m wrong or maybe I’m narrowly focused on computer science.

    Tenure is part of the traditional academic system (at least in the US but I assume it’s more widespread). If you are building a world class university and want to attract the best faculty, it is simply asinine to go out of your way to make your university worse in the eyes of prospective faculty. That point is implicit in PZ’s reference to “brain drain”. Assuming DeSantis isn’t as dumb as he appears, I conclude that he really isn’t interested in having better universities in Florida or even having adequate ones. Keep it dumb and cheap seems to be the motto of red states.

  14. says

    Yet another tired, fact-free argument from conservatives: “Tenure means you’re not accountable because you can’t be fired”. Only people who have little experience with academia would say this. I know of at least two tenured faculty members at my college who were dismissed for what I’ll call “unprofessional behavior”. I won’t go into the details, but the actions were entirely appropriate in my view. And we have a union, so there’s another conservative talking point bubble you can burst.

  15. PaulBC says

    TenureGerrymander means you’re not accountable because you can’t be fired” (fixed it)

    I realize gerrymanders don’t help governors but there is definitely a lack of accountability in US politics (not just with the GOP). Many “safe districts” as well as states.

  16. wzrd1 says

    The worst thing that could happen to DeSantis now is, Disney to shutter immediately their park. That’s 23000 people instantly out of work, directly because of him.
    Then, leave the park vacant entirely, pay the taxes barely on time and let it rot before the now suffering county’s eyes – again, because of him and his political games.
    Another big hit would be for US CENTCOM to close the MacDill headquarters and Air Mobility Command relocate to a safer location (both politically and environmentally). There went 100000 or so jobs, plus the surrounding community support for the installation.

    In other joyous GOP contributions, Puerto Rico and other territories residents are no longer eligible for social security disability – they don’t need to have the same rights to federal programs. A stroke victim that got disability in NY moved to PR and was told to repay $28k and he’d no longer receive benefits.
    I suspect other disability attacks soon as well, gotta apply eugenics again.

    Cops are playing loud copyrighted music to prevent witnesses from posting their misdeeds online, they then file a DMCA takedown for any videos that do find their way online.
    Frankly, cite the lot of them with disorderly conduct, as the music has to be loud to be effective and they cite people for quieter music.

    Looks like they’re lighting the civil war fuse, not a good idea when the fuse is inside of a room that they poured gasoline all over.

  17. Rich Woods says

    Sprowls said it would prevent students from signing up for a class on “socialism and communism” when they thought they were signing up for “Western democracy”

    How the motherfucking shitbiscuit hell can you possibly understand the history and concepts of Western democracy without also understanding socialism and communism? Did Sprowls get expelled from school at the age of nine and never read a book in his miserable excuse for a life? FFS.

  18. hemidactylus says

    @14- PaulBC
    For computer science I was under the impression FSU and UCF were respectable. The latter used to be called Florida Technological University and had some engineering props. They have had a human factors program with some connection to aerospace if memory serves. The alligator swamp in Gainesville is known for medical stuff or health sciences though the Ladapo embarrassment should tarnish them a bit. The private University of Miami has been notorious (yes remember Luther Campbell on the sidelines) for football. I got a bootleg cassette of an early 2 Live Crew album way before release because one of their players was an alumnus from my high school (sneaker napster). But UM has more than football right? Biomedical? FIT and Rollins College are well regarded privates. For HBCUs there’s FAMU and Bethune Cookman.

  19. PaulBC says

    hemidactylus@19 Yeah, I’m probably underestimating Florida’s universities. They’ve never been on my radar. But I’m sure DeSantis can make them worse if he tries hard.

  20. muttpupdad says

    I am finding interesting that DeathSantis is doing this and other plans on the basis of 5 year plans,wondering where he picked that up, perhaps from his paymasters.

  21. Pierce R. Butler says

    I now live a few miles from the main campus of the University of Florida, and have at times lives a few blocks from it, so I have gotten to know quite a few faculty members over the years.

    And so I have to inform you that our esteemed host, alas, has it wrong. :-(

    The Florida faculty brain drain began with Jeb! Bush’s accession to the governorship in 1999, and has only accelerated with the continuous series of Republicans in that position ever since.

  22. hemidactylus says

    Probably neither here nor there regarding the topic, but University of Miami brings to mind a very specific thing that’s biomedical or neuroscience related:

    I mostly remember it because of Nick Buoniconti being a part of HBO’s Inside the NFL and the tragic injury his son sustained playing football in his dad’s footsteps. I had a neuro professor at another school who, if I recall correctly, had previous affiliation with the Miami Project.