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Decades-long professor advocating for higher education amid failing education bills

Arnold LeUnes has been a psychology professor at Texas A&M University for two decades. Amid several bills targeting higher education, he fears for the future.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Teaching is a task taken on by few. Being an educator is no walk in the park.

In the past few months, lawmakers have debated on bills such as school funding, teacher raises and more. A historic $32.7 billion budget to address these issues fell short during the 2022-2023 Legislative Session.

Arnold LeUnes is a psychology professor for Texas A&M University and shared how legislators are stripping universities and institutions of quality teachers. The recent bills are something he never thought he would see in his decade-long career.

"I'm in my 57th year at A&M," said LeUnes. "I find a lot of these things going on to be distasteful to me."

As special session begins, several bills and new mandates have been placed on higher education. Despite, June 6 marking Higher Education Day to celebrate advocating for higher ed, LeUnes believes the profession has been under attack.

For example, Senate Bill 18, which prohibits academic institutions of higher education from granting an employee tenure or any kind of permanent employment status.

"It is the cornerstone of what makes universities great, it is a cherished tradition that guarantees people that they will be able to work," said LeUnes.  "Anything that interferes with tenure would harm those universities greatly," he said. "They are both in a giant grace to hire the crème de la crème and the best and the brightest."

With many states still dealing with mass teacher shortages, other bills like Critical Race Theory being passed by the Senate poses another threat, said LeUnes.

Many educators argued that the CRT ban bill is fueled by politically-driven bias in an effort to cover up what LeUnes describes as 'ugly history' that should be told. "History is what it is," he said.

"As ugly as it is, I think that it's best explained with all of its ugliness," said LeUnes. "Anytime you encroach on free speech, you're doing everybody a disservice in the process."

As several bills are put on hold LeUnes charges people and higher Ed advocates to keep pushing for change.

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