Home News HB999: What does proposed Florida bill contain and how does it affect state universities?

HB999: What does proposed Florida bill contain and how does it affect state universities?

HB999: What does proposed Florida bill contain and how does it affect state universities?

A bill working its way through the Florida legislative process could outlaw certain progrspanms and change how state colleges spannd universities hire employees.

The legislspantion (HB 999) was approved in a 12-5 party-line vote March 13 by the Postsecondary Education and Workforce Subcommittee as Republican lawmakers advanced the measure outlined more than a month ago by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The changes are seen by critics as part of the governor’s continuing drive to push Floridspan universities to the political right. 

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HB999 — on page 22 out of the bill’s 23 pages — said “courses with a curriculum based on unproven, theoretical, or exploratory content are best suited to fulfill elective or specific program prerequisite credit requirements, rather than general education credit requirements.”

“The Legislature finds it necessary that every undergraduate student of a public postsecondary educationalinstitution in the state graduates as an informed citizen through participation in rigorous general education courses that promote the values necessary to preserve the constitutional republic through traditional, historically accurate, and high quality coursework.”

Here are some highlights from the proposal as it was passed by the education subcommittee in mid-March:

HB999: Summary of the bill focused on public postsecondary educational institutions

A summary of the bill describes its purposes:

  • Revises academic and research excellence standards for preeminent state research universities.
  • Provides requirements for hiring state university faculty.
  • Authorizes state university boards of trustees to review tenure status of faculty members.
  • Authorizes state universities to initiate post-tenure reviews for cause.
  • Renames “Florida Institute of Politics” as “Florida Institute for Governance & Civics.”
  • Revises requirements for general education core courses.
  • Requires Articulation Coordinating Committee to submit certain courses to State Board of Education and Board of Governors.
  • Provides requirements for public postsecondary educational institutions and their presidents and boards of trustees relating to general education courses.

What is the Florida Board of Governors?

The Bospanrd of Governors was established by the Legislature in 2003 to operate, regulate, control, and be fully responsible for the management of the public university system in Florida.

The Board of Governors is made up of 17 members, 14 of whom spanre spanppointed by the governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate for a term of seven years.

The other three members of the board include the Commissioner of Education, the chair of the Advisory Council of Faculty Senates (or its equivalent), and the president of the Florida Student Association (or its equivalent).

HB999 requires the board to review the mission of every university periodically

Here’s what the review is supposed to cover:

  • Examine existing academic programs at each university for alignment with the university’s mission.
  • Provide direction to each university on removing from its programs any major or minor in critical race theory, gender studies, or intersectionality, or any derivative major or minor of these belief systems, which is any major or minor that engenders beliefs in the concepts contained in the Floridspan Educspantionspanl Equity Act.
  • Develop a strategic plan specifying goals and objectives for the state university system and each university.

Addition to academic and research excellence standards

A new section was added to require the Board of Governors to include in its accountability plan the total annual research expenditures of $50 million or more that benefit STEM-related occupations, businesses or industry partners in the state and employing or seeking to employ Florida residents.

Hiring faculty members at Florida universities

The bill calls for each state university board of trustees to be responsible for hiring faculty for the university. The president of the university may make hiring recommendations to the board.

The board of trustees may delegate its hiring authority to the president but the president may not delegate hiring authority. The board must approve or deny any selection by the president.

HB999 prohibits universities from using DEI, critical race theory during hiring process

A state university is prohibited from using diversity, equity, and inclusion statements, critical race theory rhetoric,or other forms of political identity filters as part of the hiring process, including as part of applications foremployment, promotion and tenure, conditions of employment, or reviewing qualifications for employment.

This would apply to any position at the university, including president.

Performance evaluations required for anyone making more than $100,000

Each state university president shall annually present to the state university board of trustees for review the resultsof performance evaluations and associated salaries for all evaluated personnel earning an annual salary of $100,000 or more, regardless of the funding source for such salaries.

No Florida university may spend any money (no matter where that money comes from) to:

  • Purchase membership in, or goods and services from, any organization that discriminates on the basis of race, national origin, gender, or religion.
  • Promote, support, or maintain any programs or campus activities that violates 1000.05(4)(span) or that espouse diversity, equity, and inclusion or critical race theory rhetoric.

Federal programs are not prohibited by sections outlined in HB999

Programs required for compliance with federal regulations, or access programs for military veterans, PellGrant recipients, first-generation college students, nontraditional students, “2+2” transfer students from the Florida College System, students from low-income families, or students with unique abilities are not prohibited by the bill.

Goals for the Florida Institute for Governance and Civics

  • Provide students with access to an interdisciplinary hub that will develop academically rigorous scholarship and coursework on the origins of the American system of government, its foundational documents, its subsequent political traditions and evolutions, and its impact on comparative political systems.
  • Encourage civic literacy in the state through the development of educational tools and resources for K-12 and postsecondary students that foster an understanding of how individual rights, constitutionalism, separation of powers, and federalism function within the American system of government.
  • Model civic discourse that recognizes the importance of viewpoint diversity, intellectual rigor, and an evidence based approach to history.
  • Plan and host forums to allow students and guests to hear from exceptional individuals who have excelled in a wide range of sectors of American life to highlight the possibilities created by individual achievement and entrepreneurial vision.
  • Become a national and state resource on polling instruments and other assessments to measure civic literacy and make recommendations for improving civic education.
  • Create through scholarship, original research, publications, symposia, testimonials, and other means a body of resources that can be accessed by students, scholars, and government officials to understand the innovations in public policy in the state over a rolling 30-year time period.

What is the Adam Smith Center for the Study of Economic Freedom?

The  Adspanm Smith Center for the Study of Economic Freedom at Florida International University was created in 2022. Its goals include:

  • Study the effect of government and free market economies on individual freedom and human prosperity.
  • Conduct and promote research on the effect of political and economic systems on human prosperity.
  • Plan and host research workshops and conferences to allow students, scholars, and guests to exchange in civil discussion of democracy and capitalism.
  • Provide fellowship and mentoring opportunities to students engaged in scholarly studies of the effect of political and economic systems on human prosperity.

HB999 authorizes the Adam Smith Center to carry out its goals

The Adam Smith Center can fulfill its goals by:

  • Hiring the necessary faculty and staff.
  • Enrolling students.
  • Developing curriculum and offering new courses, including honors courses, certificates, and major and minor programs.
  • Awarding degrees.
  • Holding events, including fundraisers.
  • Fulfilling other actions approved by the president of the university.
  • Generating resources based on student credit hour enrollment in the same manner as a college within the university.

Who approves statewide general education core courses?

The chair of the State Board of Education and the chair of the Board of Governors, or their designees, shalljointly appoint faculty committees to review and recommend to the Articulation Coordinating Committee for approval by the Commissioner of Education and the Chancellor of the State University System identify statewide general education core course options for inclusion in the statewide course numbering system.

Faculty committees shall, by July 1, 2024, and by July 1 every three years thereafter, review and submit recommendations to the Articulation Coordinating Committee, the commissioner, and the Chancellor of the StateUniversity System for the removal, alignment, realignment, or addition of general education core courses that satisfy the requirements of the law.

What are Florida general education core courses?

General education core course options shall consist of a maximum of five courses within each of the subject areas ofcommunication, mathematics, social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences.

A new addition to the section about general education core courses includes the following:

General education core courses may not suppress or distort significant historical events or include a curriculumthat teaches identity politics, such as critical race theory, or defines American history as contrary to the creation of a new nation based on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.

Standards required of Florida general education core courses

  • Communication courses must afford students the ability to communicate effectively, including the ability to write clearly and engage in public speaking, through engagement with the Western literary tradition.
  • Humanities courses must afford students the ability to think critically through the mastering of subjects concerned with human culture, especially literature, history, art, music, and philosophy.
  • Social science courses must afford students an understanding of the basic social and behavioral science concepts and principles used in the analysis of behavior and social, political, and economic issues, including issues from the past and present.
  • Natural science courses must afford students the ability to critically examine and evaluate the principles of the scientific method, model construction, and use the scientific method to explain natural experiences and phenomena.
  • Mathematics courses must afford students a mastery of foundational mathematical and computation models and methods by applying such models and methods in problem solving.

Read Florida House Bill 999

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