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Texas Decimates DEI Bureaucracy, Advances Goldwater-Backed Reforms

May 30, 2023

Texas just delivered a massive victory over the left’s radical race-based “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) apparatus in higher education by passing powerful new legislation: SB 17 completely defunds the bloated bureaucracy of DEI administrators currently swarming the state’s public colleges and universities.

Sponsored by Sen. Brandon Creighton—with over a dozen cosponsors in the state Senate and House—the legislation builds off a model policy released this spring by the Goldwater and Manhattan Institutes and rolls back the millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours currently being diverted from academic enrichment toward politicized, race- and gender-based “DEI” programming each year. This massive victory not only raises the bar but sets the stage for additional victories—both in Texas and around the nation.

The new law—now awaiting Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature—comes just weeks after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis likewise signed legislation banishing “diversity statements” and other discriminatory techniques used by the left to enforce ideological conformity on campus under the guise of DEI.

The new Texas bill makes crystal clear that no public institution of higher education may “establish or maintain” any office that seeks to “promot[e] the differential treatment of…individuals on the basis of race, color, or ethnicity”; “influenc[e] hiring or employment practices with respect to race, color, or ethnicity, other than through the use of color-blind and sex-neutral hiring”; or “conduc[t] trainings, programs, or activities, designed or implemented in reference to race, color, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation” beyond programs legally required by state or federal law. In other words, the entire campus apparatus dedicated to fomenting race- or gender-based radicalism will now be closed down completely.

This strikes a double blow on behalf of taxpayers—not only rolling back the Administrative State in general, but also removing the epicenter of so much leftwing lunacy undermining intellectual diversity on college campuses. And it does so based on model legislation released jointly earlier this year by the Goldwater and Manhattan Institutes, “Abolish DEI Bureaucracies and Restore Colorblind Equality in Public Universities,” which proposed fully eliminating all DEI offices in public higher education.

Beyond merely calling on the universities to shut down their DEI regimes, Texas lawmakers also inserted additional teeth into the final bill ensuring that public colleges may not spend a dime of their annual state funding until each school submits to lawmakers and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board “a report certifying…compliance” with the bill’s new requirements.

Just as school choice at the K-12 level has swept the nation in the wake of Arizona passing universal education savings account legislation last year, Texas’ bold action against DEI in higher education sets a new standard that lawmakers across the country can and should emulate. But even this victory—abolishing the DEI-based administrative bloat—marks only the first of two steps necessary to fully liberate the academic integrity of public higher education from the tentacles of DEI.

State lawmakers must also ensure students and faculty are freed from its grip in the classroom. It’s for this reason that the Goldwater Institute recently partnered with Speech First to release the “Freedom From Indoctrination Act.” This latest measure will build on the work of states like Texas by also preventing public colleges and universities from forcing students into taking DEI coursework as a condition of graduating or completing any degree program. Instead, colleges will be required to provide students instruction in American constitutionalism as part of general education programming. They will also be required to inform students of their free speech rights—rather than stoking racial activism–during freshman orientation.

Nonetheless, Texas has scored an extraordinary victory in the battle to restore public higher education to its original purpose. Its success should be applauded, replicated, and expanded. DEI didn’t appear overnight, and it will not disappear in an instant. But just as it rode swiftly to power over our institutions in recent years, so too is it now poised for an equally rapid downfall. Lone Star State lawmakers deserve great credit for giving it a powerful push into oblivion.

Matt Beienburg is the Director of Education Policy at the Goldwater Institute. He also serves as director of the institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy.



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