The National Association of Scholars (NAS) congratulates Governor Greg Abbott and the legislature of Texas for passing into law a ban on the authoritarian, illiberal practice of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI). Texas’ new law champions free speech and intellectual diversity in Texas’ public higher education system, by removing policies that forward DEI. Its carefully tailored provisions ensure that the law will work to promote freedom, without adverse side-effects—and in a way that maximize its chances of surviving judicial challenge.
This new law has met with a thoughtful and detailed critique from distinguished higher education reformer Louis K. Bonham, who argues that it has been crafted to have no teeth. Bonham judges that, “SB 17 morphed into a Potemkin piece of symbolic legislation, because it provides nothing in the way of meaningful enforcement or disincentives for violating it.”
We repeat the comment we provided for Bonham’s article:
SB 17 commits Texas universities to prohibit DEI loyalty oaths. Many potential recruits for DEI bureaucracies will now shy away from coming to Texas, and current members of the DEI bureaucracies will seek more secure jobs elsewhere. Now that Texas policymakers have committed themselves to prohibit DEI loyalty oaths, we will be glad to urge them to give full effect to their commitment by strengthening enforcement provisions. We have never imagined that the entirety of illiberal DEI bureaucracies would be swept away by one law—whatever the law, policymakers will have to maintain oversight on malfeasant and nonfeasance academic administrators. We congratulate Texas policymakers for taking a necessary first step by passing SB 17—and urge them to follow up by taking complementary steps to ensure enforcement of SB 17.
We especially urge Texas policymakers and citizens to read Bonham’s critique, and to consider how the new law should be amended to strengthen its enforcement mechanisms.
Yet Governor Abbott and his colleagues in the Texas legislature deserve the congratulations of Texas’ citizens. Most states have done nothing to oppose DEI. The Texas higher education establishment worked hard to prevent any bill from becoming law. Texas policymakers achieved a substantial victory by passing any bill at all to oppose DEI—and it will deter would-be recruits to DEI bureaucracies from seeking careers in Texas. We are grateful to Texas’ policymakers for the great good they have done for higher education reform.
We urge Texan citizens and policymakers to continue the fight for higher education reform. The law must be enforced upon a nonfeasant and malfeasant Texas higher education establishment. Texas policymakers can best achieve the intent of the new law by passing companion legislation—legislation that embodies Bonham’s sage counsel to make the new law fully enforceable, and legislation (such as Ohio SB 83) that enacts a further range of higher education reforms to ensure financial accountability, nondiscrimination, reformed mission statements, and more detailed prohibitions of DEI regulations and programming.
That is for tomorrow. Today, Texan policymakers have done good and Texan citizens should toss their hats in the air.