Commentary

California Legislature Mandates that “Public Service” Be Required for University Tenure

As Dan Walters reports in the Sacramento Bee:

A third element would be required in the hiring and promotion of faculty members. It’s called “service.” The specifics of Assembly Bill 2132 appear to give great weight to political, or at least semi-political, activities favored by those on the political left.

They include, in the words of a legislative bill analysis, “developing programs for underserved populations” and “outreach programs developed to promote cultural diversity in the student body.”

The California State University system would be required to make “service” an element with teaching and the bill “encourages” the constitutionally independent University of California to include “service” in its evaluations.

It is a mistake for the state of California to “legislate” faculty requirements for tenure and promotion even at public universities. This is a one-size-fits-all policy and it politicizes “public service” and ignores legitimate reasons why in some disciplines public service may not be a priority for promotion. Is a faculty member completing research on breast cancer also required to complete public service in addition to their basic research? The emphasis on “public service” for future employment should be at the discretion of the University and faculty and should not be a matter for the California legislature to even consider, much less enforce.

Lisa Snell is the director of education and child welfare at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.

Snell has frequently testified before the California State Legislature and numerous other state legislatures and government agencies. She has authored policy studies on school finance and weighted student funding, universal preschool, school violence, charter schools, and child advocacy centers.

Snell is a frequent contributor to Reason magazine, School Reform News and Privatization Watch. Her writing has also appeared in Education Week, Edutopia, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications.

Ms. Snell is also an advisory board member to the National Quality Improvement Center for the Children's Bureau; is on the charter school accreditation team for the American Academy for Liberal Education; and serves as a board member for the California Virtual Academy.

Before joining Reason Foundation, Snell taught public speaking and argumentation courses at California State University, Fullerton. She earned a Master of Arts in communication from California State University, Fullerton.