The dust is clearing as the Legislature is (finally!) meeting in a special session to address some of the problems that they should have addressed in the regular session - when they were meddling in education.
Speaking of leadership changes, USF is seeking a new provost, and the previous Biweekly expressed a desire for a provost with vision, ability, and an unlimited supply of elbow grease for an aspiring institution. There is a webpage for the search and members of the community can contact the headhunter conducting the search. Remember: the time to influence decisions is before they are made.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on Zoom. On the agenda: academic freedom, plans for summer, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.
Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but to Zoom in you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one.
We are always pleased to recognize the accomplishments of UFF members, so we are happy to announce Ruthmae Sears, associate professor for Mathematics Education and associate director for the Coalition for Science Literacy received the 2022 USF Inclusive Excellence Award for Impact, and that Antoinette Jackson, professor and chair of Anthropology, and Emily Mann, assistant librarian at the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library on USF St. Petersburg, have received the 2022 USF Inclusive Excellence Award for Faculty. The Inclusive Excellence Awards were granted to "staff, faculty, students, and community leaders across One USF" who have "have dedicated themselves to advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in their daily lives and in ways that have transformed the lives of others, their units, or the broader USF community."
And Natasha Jonoska, distinguished university professor of Mathematics & Statistics, has been elected to the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts for her work in models of bio-molecular processes, especially those involving DNA.
If you know of an accomplishment of a UFF member, please let us know.
Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or litigation); special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. Here is the membership form. Come and join the movement.
If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement or the recent Memorandum of Understanding, you have thirty days from the time you knew or should have known of the violation to file a grievance. If you are, and at the time of the violation were, a dues-paying member of the United Faculty of Florida, you have the right to union representation. To contact the UFF USF Grievance Committee, go to the Grievances Page.
Many of our students are struggling during this crisis, and the USF Foundation is supporting the USF Food Pantries to help out. They are accepting non-perishable donations, but one can also make monetary donations for the pantries at St. Petersburg, Sarasota / Manatee, and Tampa.
Yes, we are on social media.
Higher education faculty don't have to deal with Victims of Communism Day or the new Parental Rights in Education (aka "Don't Say Gay") law. But all educators - and corporations (!) - must navigate House Bill 7. Originally Governor DeSantis' Legislative Proposal to Stop W.O.K.E. Activism and Critical Race Theory in Schools and Corporations, it was renamed "Individual Freedom". Advertised as the first legislation in the nation "to take on both corporate wokeness and Critical Race Theory in schools in one act," the bill is all over the map on wokeness and says only a little about critical race theory.
House Bill 7 states that It shall constitute discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sex under this section to subject any student or employee to training or instruction that espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels such student or employee to believe any of the following [eight] concepts..., some of which are noxious (e.g. "Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior to members of another race, color, sex, or national origin"), or problematic (e.g. "An individual's moral character or status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex, or national origin"), or controversial (e.g. "Such virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist..."). Nevertheless, these notions may be presented in an "objective manner."
(Interestingly, House Bill 7 contains a lengthy paragraph mandating study of African Americans and their heritage in a positive light (!) in K-12.)
One issue is how this legislation is going to be implemented, since administrators will tend to follow what they think the law says - and the law was advertised as a magic bullet against wokeness in general and critical race theory in particular. For example, consider an exercise aimed at getting students to discover (for themselves only) their own unconscious discriminatory behavior. Such an exercise might make some students feel bad, and that could ultimately lead to a complaint, which - whatever the language of House Bill 7 - might be acted on. As 538 observed, teachers are being targeted for teaching what others construe as critical race theory, or at least, as something offensive to some parents and politicians.
We have already seen this on a large scale. The Florida Department of Education rejected a number of textbooks because of "woke" contents, and gave four examples, the first two being on measuring or modeling racial prejudice of individuals (not a priority of critical race theory, which is primarily concerned with racial inequality emerging from cultural, social, corporate, and legal structures and procedures). Notice that both concern applications of mathematics to social studies, which suggests that the Department of Education may freak out over social studies texts.
For faculty uninterested in making legal history, how is one to stay out of the line of fire? The University of Florida bolstered its reputation for pandering to Tallahassee by appealing to faculty not to irritate the politicians and prepared a slide show on how not to get (the UF administration) in trouble.
The United Faculty of Florida believes in a more Churchillian approach, and sent the following statement to its chapters: UFF is currently working through our statewide union’s legal and political resources to create classroom guidance for all of our members regarding HB 7, similar to what was distributed last year in response to HB 233, Florida's "Viewpoint Discrimination" law. This guidance will be available on or before July 1, 2022, when HB 7 formally goes into effect. In the meantime, please continue to reach out to your local chapter leaders with questions or thoughts about the law.
We will send out UFF's guidance as soon as we receive it. Stay tuned. And don't forget the moral of today's lesson: elections have consequences. Something to remember this fall.
Thinking of legal combat, returning to House Bill 233, which mandates that dubious survey faculty, staff, and students received last month. That bill bars shielding students from "ideas and opinions that they may find uncomfortable, unwelcome, disagreeable, or offensive," apparently including "faculty research, lectures, writings, and commentary, whether published or unpublished." Of course, it is the politicians who find wokeness and critical race theory uncomfortable, unwelcome, disagreeable, or offensive, but there still seems to be an inconsistency between House Bills 7 and 233. What the courts will make of this mess has yet to be seen.
There is no news yet about implementing Senate Bill 7044, which addresses "post-tenure review" and accreditation. WPTV reported that Governor DeSantis said that "the goal of the legislation is to ensure productivity among professors and prevent them from indoctrinating students with their own biases." However, the law says (italics added):
The Board of Governors may adopt a regulation requiring each tenured state university faculty member to undergo a comprehensive post tenure review every 5 years. The board may include other considerations in the regulation, but the regulation must address:
Two points about this post tenure review.
The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, May 27, at 12:00, on Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.the Chapter Secretary. Come and join the movement.
Membership: Everyone in the UFF USF System Bargaining unit is eligible for UFF membership: to join, simply fill out and send in the membership form.
About this broadcast: This Newsletter was broadcast from uff.ourusf.org, hosted at ICDsoft.com, and is intended for all members of the UFF USF Bargaining unit (USF faculty and professionals at most departments). A (usually identical) version will be broadcast to USF-News and USF-Talk from firstname.lastname@example.org.