After 11 years working as a college professor, Yasmiyn Irizarry reached a goal she dreamed about from the very beginning of her career: tenure.

Irizarry would be granted not only job security but also the academic freedom to teach and conduct research without fear of censorship as an associate professor of African and African diaspora studies at the University of Texas.

But on the same day that she celebrated the milestone last year, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced his priorities for this legislative session — which included eliminating tenure in Texas moving forward.

Patrick has said doing so would support his goal to keep critical race theory out of Texas universities. Critical race theory is an academic framework that probes the way policies and laws uphold systemic racism. Just this week, the Senate, which Patrick oversees, gave its approval to a bill aimed at banning the theory from state universities and colleges.

“We are the ones who pay [faculty’s] salaries. Parents are the ones who pay tuition. Of course, we’re going to have a say in what the curriculum is,” Patrick said last year when announcing his intentions to end tenure.

. . .

Tenure is awarded based on merit, and it generally means a professor’s contract can only be terminated under extreme circumstances, such as financial struggles or program discontinuation.

Kevin Cokley, a former UT-Austin professor, earned tenure almost 20 years ago based on his teaching and research in the field of African American psychology.

“You need to have the freedom to be able to pursue work without looking over your shoulders, wondering if you have offended someone or some sort of political entity,” Cokley said.

Read the complete article in The Dallas Morning News