Sherry Sylvester


Is the Texas A&M J School Flap “DEI Hysteria?”

Shortly after the Texas passage of the strongest DEI bill in the nation, Senate Bill 17, Texas A&M decided to revive its long defunct journalism school by hiring Kathleen McElroy. McElroy is a former New York Times writer and head of the University of Texas Journalism School where she describes her primary skill set on her thumbnail profile as “Diversity & Inclusion and Diversity Training.”

Although news reports indicate there was lots of fanfare surrounding her initial appointment, it’s not clear at this point exactly who hired her. A&M’s Board of Regents doesn’t appear to have been involved.

Judging from the play-by-play report McElroy gave to the Texas Tribune, whoever it was has buyer’s remorse. Her tenured position offer was reduced to a non-tenured position, then to a one-year, at-will contract, which she just rejected. She has announced she will remain at the University of Texas where she is a tenured professor.

McElroy reports that she feels “damaged” by what is described as “DEI hysteria” that has overtaken Texas A&M.

It’s not clear why Texas A&M decided to revive its journalism program after getting along fine without it since 2004. Perhaps it was motivated by the fact that the latest Gallup Poll shows that only 7% of Americans have “a great deal of trust” in the media. That clearly sounds like a problem a bunch of smart Aggies should set about to fix.

Still, it’s hard to see how McElroy is the right person for the job. She likes the journalism most Americans have learned not to trust. She told NPR, “We can’t just give people a set of facts anymore. I think we know that and we have to tell our students that. This is not about getting two sides of a story or three sides of a story, if one side is illegitimate. I think now you cannot cover education, you cannot cover criminal justice, you can’t cover all of these institutions without recognizing how all these institutions were built.”

So guess who decides which side of the news story is “illegitimate?”

Her former employers, the New York Times, wrote a short news story about McElroy’s recent issues at A&M, where they decided to “just give people the facts.” They quote a dean who implied the change was motivated by racism, but they also quoted one of her conservative critics, so apparently they did not believe the views of a DEI opponent were “illegitimate.”

It’s also important to note that, although she bills herself as a journalism professor, her comments about “these institutions” closely reflect the stated mission of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education:

“Engaging in ongoing ways to incorporate alternative narratives in the curriculum and provide robust learning opportunities on the history of racism, colonization and conquest on how higher education and other sectors of society have been complicit in maintaining systems of privilege.”

As for the “DEI hysteria” at Texas A&M, when their Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs testified before the Texas House regarding Senate Bill 17, he said there were “pockets of DEI at the university” but the administration was unaware of it.

But A&M’s State of Diversity Report in 2020 insists that “racism, hate speech, safety and belonging issues are evidence of systemic cultural problems that are enduring trends at Texas A&M.”

Whether the “DEI hysterics” are the result of only a few isolated DEI programs or “systemic cultural problems,” it will be hard for anyone to know because McElroy would make sure that only the “legitimate” side of the argument will be reported. Those with “illegitimate” views will be ignored.

Importantly, not one DEI officer who testified against Senate Bill 17 made a case that DEI programs have led to successful academic outcomes for minority and marginalized students. In fact, the data show just the opposite. At Texas A&M, 82% of African Americans reported they felt like they belonged in 2015. By 2020, that percentage had dropped to 55%.

Perhaps that’s because A&M’s multicultural service programs have created racially segregated programs that divide students by identity group, which, among other things, has resulted in racially segregated graduation ceremonies for Asian, African American, Latinx and LGBTQ students.

The journalists who make up the Texas media haven’t reported problems with DEI on any Texas campus, likely because the concerns of critics are viewed as “illegitimate.” Indeed, when McElroy chose to go to the Texas Tribune with her story, she picked a reporter who has described DEI opponents pejoratively as “conservative Texans—from locally elected public school trustees to top state officials—[who] have labeled several books and schools of thought that center the perspectives of people of color as ‘woke’ ideologies that make white children feel guilty for the country’s history of racism.” She didn’t quote any of the critics.

At the same time, without any evidence such as increased minority enrollment, improved grades, graduation rates or job placement, the same reporter writes that: “DEI offices have become a mainstay on college and university campuses across the country for years as schools try to boost faculty diversity and help students from all backgrounds succeed.”

Of course, efforts to help students from all backgrounds succeed on Texas campuses will continue, unimpeded by Senate Bill 17.

Texas A&M may want to reconsider if it really needs a journalism school. Unless it can find someone who believes in reporting all sides of the news, it may want to chalk up the McElroy experience as a bullet dodged and take a pass.


Texas War to End DEI is Just Beginning

Gov. Greg Abbott signed Texas’ anti-DEI Bill into law on June 14, which should close down so-called Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) offices on every Texas university campus. But according to Valerie Sansone, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Texas at San Antonio, efforts are already underway to defy the law.

“Conversations of how to push back are being conducted in hushed tones—not in whispers, but not entirely out in the open either,” Sansone said. “We’re not necessarily using our state university emails to communicate about this, Sansone says, “You’ve got to be a little smarter than that.”

Whether or not Ms. Sansone is “a little smarter than that” is an open question, since she chose to share the news of the covert operation with a reporter from Inside Higher Education, a national publication that boosts almost 400,000 subscribers.

Claiming to speak for DEI officers throughout the South, where DEI programs are being scrutinized, Sansone says the fact that so many folks are staying behind despite anti-DEI legislation is a “form of resistance.”

What they are resisting is Texas Senate Bill 17, which states that no program or policy will be allowed on any Texas university campus that “promotes differential treatment or provides special benefits to individuals on the basis of race, color or ethnicity.”

Sansone and her DEI colleagues in “the resistance” are fighting the basic premise of all civil rights legislation and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution—that there should be no differential treatment in America on the basis of race.

According to the Inside Higher Education news story, “DEI Officers Gear Up for Battle in Red States” the DEI crowd describes their enemy as “[university] board members, lawmakers and the voting public.”

Only Texas and Florida (two of the three largest states in the union) have an outright ban on DEI, but nearly 20 other states are considering taking similar steps.

And the battle isn’t just in red states. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) held a debate in April on whether DEI should be abolished. No consensus was reached before the sellout crowd, but there was general agreement that DEI has gone way “off the track.”

For some DEI leaders, the fight isn’t against all voters, just Republicans. Adrianna Kezar, director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of California, suggests that one way to make DEI harder to target is to “disperse” DEI programs throughout academic institutions rather than centralizing it in a single administrative office. She also says renaming DEI to something like Selective Equity Leadership (SEL) can also throw Republicans off the scent.

Like DEI, Selective Equity Leadership doesn’t really mean anything and it certainly doesn’t describe the ideology that fuels “the resistance.” DEI proponents believe that America and all its institutions are racist reflections of a white supremacist culture. In their view, to see it any other way is clearly racism.

That ideological narrative is also “hush, hush.” Instead, throughout the debate over DEI in Texas and in other states, DEI officers misinformed the public and the press, insisting that shutting down DEI programs will harm minority and marginalized students.

But it would be hard to imagine anything that has been more harmful to minority and marginalized students than DEI.

The University of Michigan has the largest DEI program in the country. Its response to current criticism of DEI is to double down on its ideological strategy, with a new Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity officer who says that “’race conscious’ programs continue to be the key” to helping minority students. She says “race neutral” programs will fail. After a decade of DEI at Michigan, the largest university in the state, Michigan still has a student population that is less than 4% black even though African Americans make up 14% of the population.

And in what may be a design flaw, it appears that the more DEI programs do, the unhappier marginalized students are. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that “over the past several years, the university [Michigan] has hired more diverse faculty and staff, increased the number of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and incorporated diversity-related material across the curriculum, according to a university analysis, but fewer students reported being satisfied with the campus climate in 2021, compared with those surveyed in 2016.”

These findings were similar to data compiled by Texas A&M which found that the percentage of African American students who felt like they belonged at A&M dropped almost 30 points from 2015 to 2020.

Apparently a constant drumbeat that one is living in a college quagmire of white supremacy and patriarchal tyranny is not a morale booster. Neither are daily assurances that one’s setbacks are the result of oppression and unconscious racism.

Urging minorities to view themselves as victims and others as victimizers is not an education, it is activist training. In the end, it ensures that the only kind of job they will be able to get is working in DEI.

Indeed, a quick visit to the website for the NADOHE shows that their primary objective is to create most positions for DEI officers.

Immediately following the passage of Senate Bill 17, Texas A&M called for a comprehensive review of all DEI programs in what appears to be a serious effort to transform that campus. At the same time, a former DEI advocate for the New York Times was hired to run the journalism school. This is how the anti-DEI resistance will work—like whack-a-mole.

Even before the Texas anti-DEI bill passed, DEI officers in Texas were waving it off as inconsequential, promising to shift staffing to different departments, rename programs and decentralize efforts. The transformation of university health systems, where DEI already has a pernicious stranglehold, is a goal for many DEI advocates.

The Texas anti-DEI bill is the strongest in the country. It includes several layers of oversight as well as empowering the Legislature to withdraw funding if any aspect of the legislation is violated. Still, removing the scourge of DEI from Texas campuses will not be easy. The war against DEI has just begun.

Sherry Sylvester is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the former Senior Advisor to Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.


Texas is winning the war against ‘woke’

Gov. Ron DeSantis brags that Florida “is where woke goes to die,” but in the legislative session that just ended, Texas lawmakers passed the strongest legislation in the country to end DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) and its ideological framework mandating a belief in systemic racism, non-binary genders and pronoun police, men playing women’s sports, drag shows for children and even Democrat cities defunding the police. Some of the protesters challenged the legislators fighting wokeness, insisting that “woke” is merely a left-wing term meaning “stay aware.”

But even the left-leaning AP Stylebook has been forced to accept that “woke” is conservative shorthand for every crazy idea the left is pushing.

Texas lawmakers attacked those crazy woke ideas starting at their power center—college campuses—by passing the strongest anti-DEI bill in the nation. Texas closed down DEI offices on every state campus, prohibited mandatory DEI training and DEI statements to be hired. They also reined in Democrat cities with the “Death Star” bill that will prohibit city leaders from overriding state law. They blocked men from playing in women’s sports on college campuses and prohibited children from being exposed to drag shows.  Children will also be protected from cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers and sex-change surgeries before they are 18.

new Gallup poll makes it clear that the Texas anti-woke agenda is much bigger than Texas. Most Americans agree with Texans on these issues. The number of people who call themselves social conservatives has increased 8 points in just two years while the number of people who call themselves socially liberal is dropping.

To just look at one issue, support for what is called “trans rights,” which impacts those suffering from gender confusion, is falling. According to Gallup, the number of Americans who oppose transgender men playing in women’s sports has increased to almost 70%, about the same as the percentage of Texans who oppose it. Predictions by the left that “trans rights” would gradually evolve into broader acceptance, like gay rights has, seem to be off base.

The Washington Post reluctantly reports in its own poll that almost 60% of Americans “don’t believe it is even possible” to be any sex other than the sex you were born as.  Similarly, the Texas Polling Project also found that 63% of Texans believe that sex is determined by what is on your birth certificate.

Population data regarding “trans” people are suspect, but, even with all the hype, the Washington Post says only about 0.6% of the population calls themselves “trans.” If you add in those folks who believe they are somehow “non-binary” (some gender other than male or female) that number increases to 1.6%. According to the Washington Post, 2.4% of the population is gay—although the number is much higher among younger people.  As Bill Maher has hilariously pointed out, the number of young people who now say they are gay is escalating so rapidly that the entire population will be gay by 2054.

Interestingly, a Summit poll found that about 69% of Americans attribute the skyrocketing numbers of young people who suddenly believe there are the opposite sex to cultural infusion through the media as well as the influence of big medicine, which produces puberty blockers and sex transition surgical centers. Regardless of the cause, the majority of Americans support Texas legislation that restricts discussions of gender identity and adult sexuality in elementary school classrooms.

Disagreement with so-called “trans” issues isn’t the total reason for the substantial shift toward social conservativism among Americans. Progressives pushing ideas that all American and Texas history is a lie, that white supremacy is ubiquitous and racism is in America’s DNA are another chief cause. So is defunding the police, even as American cities are destroyed by crime.

Ignoring progressive charges of racism and transphobia, Texas lawmakers took on the woke insanity and they won, big time.  The took significant steps to return reason and free speech to our college campuses, protect our children and women sports and help restore safety and vitality to our cities. The numbers in the latest Gallup poll showing an increase in social conservatism makes it clear that Americans across the country would like to see more of the same in their states.


Recapping the 88th Legislative Session with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick

As the 88th Legislative Session concludes, Texas Public Policy Foundation Distinguished Senior Fellow Sherry Sylvester will host a live, one-on-one interview with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

They will discuss the various bills passed by the Legislature to advance conservative priorities and ensure that Texas remains a bastion of freedom.

What were the biggest challenges? How will these policies help Texas families? And what work might still need to be addressed in a special session?

Join us to hear the leader of the Texas Senate’s perspective on these questions and more.


Abbott Versus DEI: Not on Texas Campuses

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office just sent out a memo to Texas colleges, universities and state agencies reminding them that they must follow civil rights laws and ensure that all hiring decisions are based solely on merit.

Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Gardner Pate, explains in the memo that “…the innocuous sounding notion of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has been manipulated to push policies that expressly favor some demographic groups to the detriment of others.”

Last month, the National Association of Scholars released an extensive report on DEI at the University of Texas revealing how employment of faculty and staff there is now linked to left-wing political goals. Shortly after that, a freedom of information report obtained by Do No Harm revealed that Texas A&M Medical School had, among other things, removed photographs of white male graduates to further its DEI goals. And this week the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed detailing the way DEI is used at Texas Tech to screen out job applicants who do not accept DEI dogma.

Immediately, the Texas media launched a disinformation campaign.

The Texas Tribune screamed:  Governor Greg Abbott tells state agencies to stop considering diversity in hiring

Most of the state’s electronic media regurgitated the Texas Tribune report as if it were fact, reporting that DEI is about eliminating discrimination and ensuring fair treatment.

The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express news reported that Abbott was going after diversity hiring programs while the Dallas Morning News digital headline proclaimed: Abbott declares it illegal to consider diversity in employment. Their editorial board fired off an odd piece the next day—Governor Abbott’s Big DEI Mistake insisting that, although Abbott is right about ideological litmus tests, what is going on at Texas institutions of higher education is surely “well-intentioned” because hiring diverse employees is a good thing.

They are wrong. DEI is not “well-intentioned,” and it is not about diversity hiring or fair treatment.  DEI is about dictating how people think. The job candidate evaluations at Texas Tech revealed that applicants were downgraded for using the wrong pronoun or saying they respected and treated all students the same—which is not allowed. Another applicant was chastised for not knowing the difference between equity and equality.

Clearly, the Texas media is also confused about the difference between equality and Equity. Equality is the belief that everyone must have access to life, liberty, education, jobs and the tools to reach for the American dream. The civil rights laws of the 1960s referred to in the memo from Gov. Abbott’s office are built on the principle of equality. Title IX laws, which give women equal access to higher education, are also about equality.

Equity calls for equal outcomes—we must all end up at the same place. According to the principles of DEI, the fact that I played basketball in high school but never really had a shot at the NBA means there’s equality in sports, but not equity. DEI disdains equality. It is all about equity.

Diversity is a word that DEI also distorts. Diversity has always been used to define a community whose members have a broad range of backgrounds, like Texas, where 29 million people speak 160 languages, English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Tagalog being the most common. Our state was founded and continues to be built by a very diverse population of Hispanics, Anglos, African Americans, Native Americans, Germans, Central Americans and others who flock daily to our state. Texas reflects all those voices.

But diversity, as it is taught in Texas colleges and universities, means dividing everyone into groups of either oppressors or victims as defined by critical race theory. Oppressors are people who have benefited from the racism and white supremacy that DEI proponents believe is the foundation for America. Victims are those who are suffering from the white supremacy that in their view, still drives every aspect of our cultural, political and economic lives.

In addition to critical race theory, DEI advocates also espouse “gender theory,” insisting that gender is not binary and the fact that children are “assigned a gender at birth” is an arbitrary action perpetuated by the white patriarchy. Every child, they insist, should be allowed to choose their own gender.

Wrap this all up with disinformation about “inclusion” and you can see why Governor Abbott’s memo was necessary. Texas colleges and universities are giving preferential hiring treatment (inclusion) to those who believe our country is driven by racism, white supremacy and a binary gender patriarchy. Everyone else, especially those who espouse principles like merit, initiative, color-blindness and equality fall into the “white supremacist” category. They are excluded.

DEI also suppresses dissent and free speech, something the media usually cares about, but in this case, clearly not. Fifty-seven percent of Texas college students report that they censor themselves when talking to other students, professors or administrators because they are fearful of reprisal. Ironically, at the same time, over 70% of Texas college students oppose allowing a critic of Black Lives Matter to speak on their campus because DEI teaches intolerance of views that don’t comply with the dogma.

This week Senate Finance Committee Chair, Joan Huffman, R-Houston warned university officials that DEI will not be tolerated at Texas colleges and universities.  She warned the taxpayer-funded institutions that the state’s budget appropriators are watching.

Texans oppose both DEI and CRT and will support Gov. Abbott and the Texas Legislature continuing to move forward to get rid of it in Texas. They have learned to ignore the disinformation coming from the Texas media.


What Would Gavin Newsom Do? It’s Time to Stop DEI on Campus

It has been observed that if California Gov. Gavin Newsom learned that the University of California system included professors and staff who persistently engaged in pushing free-market, merit-based achievement, and pro-capitalism messages, he would shut them down immediately. If he found out that the administrations of state colleges and universities were almost exclusively made up of individuals whose only job is to promulgate theories of American exceptionalism, he would not hesitate to fire them all.

So how is it that state universities in Republican states like Texas persist in allowing taxpayer-funded universities and colleges to continue their war against the principles and ideals of entrepreneurialism and traditional values that have made our country great and Texas prosper? Left-wing thinking and crazy “woke” notions on race and gender are now the norm on virtually every Texas university campus. Students who have a different opinion are censored and, consequently, are too often afraid to speak up. Conservative professors are in constant fear of being identified and exiled.

At the University of Texas and most other Texas institutions, every teaching or administrative job applicant must provide what is known as a “diversity statement” explaining what they have done personally to further “diversity” in their professional career.

Diversity, along with equity and inclusion, are deeply rooted American values that embody our founding belief that all people are guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, in the woke world of college campuses, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have been twisted into code for an anti-American mindset based on the belief that racism and inequality dominate every aspect of American life including our commerce and culture and certainly the university.

Job applicants on Texas campuses must explain what steps they have taken and will take to make the university “anti-racist.” Job killing climate change policies and wealth redistribution are included under this required anti-racist, anti-American rubric. Guides on writing “diversity statements” warn applicants that saying “I treat all students equally” will be counted against them.

Requiring “diversity statements” means that every applicant must sign a statement affirming their commitment to left-wing Marxist ideology in order to get a job at a Texas college or university.

At Texas A&M University, fully 46 administrators, including deans with six-figure salaries, have the words DEI in their title. The University of Texas and Texas Tech have roughly the same number of DEI administrators. Their job is to ensure that DEI is the framework for all curriculum and programming, keeping campus culture and environment firmly ensconced on the far left fringe. Leadership, merit, personal achievement and discipline are de-emphasized and discredited.

Students learn about identity politics and multi-culturalism with no freedom to challenge the concepts. They are taught to believe that all inequities in America are part of the legacy of slavery and cannot be overcome with on-going efforts to ensure equal access to opportunity. The DEI regime rejects historic civil rights laws and Title IX designed to protect everyone from discrimination, insisting instead on exclusionary efforts in hiring and student recruitment that ignore achievement in favor of preferences based exclusively on factors like race, ethnicity and gender.

When you wonder how the environment on Texas campuses got so far off track, DEI and other left-wing ideologies on college campuses are the answer—and they continue to do it all with funding from Texas taxpayers.

Even more importantly, these colleges and universities also train public school teachers, which is how these distorted ideas, including critical race theory, made it into public school curriculums.

Wokeism has existed for decades on college campuses, but it has now become ubiquitous in every aspect of American life. The root source of wokeism is academia. It must be shut down and to do so will require a comprehensive strategy on several fronts. The accreditation cabal, which insulates campuses against public feedback and change must be drastically reformed. All DEI offices on the campuses of state colleges and universities must be closed and the use of left-wing litmus tests like diversity statements must be stopped. DEI training must also be strictly prohibited.

Instead, our universities must aim to be truly inclusive ensuring that every Texas student can pursue their dreams. Discrimination against any faculty member or student based on their point of view must end. University boards must challenge faculty councils and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom and open inquiry. Legislators (and taxpayers) must hold them accountable when they fail.

While a number of leaders of Texas colleges and universities support these reforms, the woke infrastructure anchored in faculty governance will fight back at every turn. In 2016, the Tennessee Legislature ended DEI at the University of Tennessee—the reforms lasted for about a year. The academic leadership rolled over the new state laws as if they hadn’t passed.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick affirmed earlier this week that he is committed to challenging the forces at Texas academic institutions who suppress freedom of speech and intellectual diversity. It’s time for every Texas legislator to stand up to entrenched DEI and wokeism on Texas college and university campuses. When it comes to higher education, Texas lawmakers need to ask themselves, if the situation were reversed at California colleges, “what would Gavin Newsom do?”


Texas still one of the best places to live and work, even if left-wing CNBC stacks the deck

CNBC used to stand for the “Consumer News and Business Channel.” but it is now part of NBC and the left-wing media.  Its job now is to demonize conservative states, especially Texas, as dismal backwaters filled with miserable, uninformed and misguided voters.

But because CNBC is still a business channel, focused on the economy, the workforce and markets, trash-talking the Lone Star State is very difficult to do.

Year after year, the data has forced CNBC to acknowledge that Texas is the best place in the country to do business—or at least one of the best—on their annual “Best States for Business” ranking.  Since they started keeping score in 2007, Texas is the only state to have ranked No. 1 four times.

It was ranked No. 2 eight times and until this year it has never been ranked lower than No. 4. In 2022, CNBC ranked Texas No. 5.  The network also decided to change the way they trumpeted its list. Instead of focusing on the business metrics—workforce, infrastructure, strength of the economy and the cost of doing business—it pumped up its previously described “quality of life” metrics to include “inclusion” and pushed out a new list of 10 states it called “the Best Places to Live” in America.

It’s not exactly clear exactly what metrics they used to determine the “Best Places to Live,” but among other things, they looked at crime rates and “inclusiveness in state laws, including protections against discrimination of all kinds, as well as voting rights.”  Adding crime rates made it impossible for California to climb above a No. 29 overall ranking, but on CNBC’s new woke “inclusiveness” scale Texas ranks No. 49—allowing CNBC to pronounce Texas as one of the worst places to live in the country.

The “best state to live in,” according to their new measure is Vermont, followed by Maine, Hawaii and North Dakota. CNBC’s “inclusiveness” list is clearly designed to give blue states a chance to dig out from the bottom. Washington and New Jersey are also in the top 10 “best states to live” list even though New Jersey, had the highest percentage of people moving out of any state in 2021 and Forbes included Washington on their list of states people are fleeing because of the high cost of living.

In Texas, we all know that when the left says “protections against discrimination of all kinds” they mean that boys are allowed to play on girls sports teams and parents have the right to experiment on their children with risky puberty blockers, hormonal therapy and even surgery. As for voting rights, CNBC apparently didn’t see the poll conducted by the Texas Association of Business before the most recent election reforms which confirmed that Texans of all races and political parties overwhelming support our election laws. Fully 95% of Texans say it’s easy to vote here.

You have to wonder how folks sitting around the conference table at CNBC deal with the fact that their own data shows that the state they have declared the worst place to live in America is where so many Americans want to live. Over a thousand people move here every day. Last year CNBC reported that Houston was number one on the list of top 10 cities people are moving too. San Antonio, Dallas and Austin were also on the list.  Texas was the only state with more than one city on the list.

Texas also just beat out two big blue nation states, New York and California, for the most Fortune 500 companies in the U.S.

And at the end of June, CNBC reported a better than expected jobs report that showed 372,000 workers added to payrolls nationwide.  Their news story did not point out that 82,500 of those jobs—22%—were in Texas, which created more jobs than any other state.

Woke businesses pushing boycotts against Texas haven’t convinced people that Texas isn’t a great place to live, and CNBC is not likely to be successful by stacking the deck on the “Best States to Live” list either.

In 2021, the Houston Chronicle predicted the state would lose $31 billion and 223,000 jobs if they passed proposed election reforms. The reforms passed, voter turnout broke records and the economy continues to soar.

California has banned travel for state workers and universities to Texas, and a couple of dozen other states, because of Texas laws supporting women’s sports and privacy. Since it first passed that law, the number of states on its list has almost doubled and even some major California newspapers are urging them to repeal the ban since it is obviously making no difference.

By contrast, Texas has become a mecca for business and innovation. That is no accident. The conservative policies passed by Texans over the last several decades create jobs, help business flourish and ensure that the state continues to effectively compete in the global economy. The CNBC annual rankings that consistently put Texas at the top show how well this is working for Texans and the world. CNBC should not only report that Texas is at the top, it should also report why.


Red McCombs Should Demand His Money Back

It has been said that Texas is the best expression of the American idea—and Red McCombs is one of the best expressions of everything it means to be a Texan. He came from a tiny town in the southern panhandle, started as an Edsel salesman in Corpus Christi and went onto become one of the richest men in the world. McCombs has been enormously generous in so many ways throughout his life—a gift to the Lone Star State that keeps on giving.

An advertising genius who, literally, invented product placement, McCombs’ business successes have contributed to Texas’ growth and economic prosperity in a dozen different ways. In my hometown of San Antonio, he is known for bringing NBA basketball to our city with the Spurs. The key for him in his first professional sports venture was understanding the importance of television in moving San Antonio onto a national stage.

When the movie “The Alamo” was being filmed in 1960 at Bracketville, McCombs sought out John Wayne and got him to agree to open the film in San Antonio, pulling the klieg lights and red carpet out of Hollywood and into downtown San Antonio again, putting Texas on the map.

McCombs also brought Formula 1 racing to the United States after he learned that over 1 billion people watched those races. The possibilities of a billion viewers around the globe all looking at Texas motivated him to make sure the “Circuit of the Americas” was located here.

McCombs has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to all kinds of charities in Texas including the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. In 2000, he contributed $50 million dollars to establish the Red McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, a gift which leveraged an additional $100 million to ensure that the state that has repeatedly been identified over the past two decades as the best state for business anywhere in America has a first-class business school.

Knowing what McCombs has done for the state and for the University of Texas, you can imagine how outrageous it was to see that when the template for the fall schedule at the McCombs School was released this week it included a warning for students that some business topics may be “traumatic.” Professors must promise to give their students a heads up if some really scary business topic is about to be discussed.

Are they kidding? Anyone who knows Red McCombs knows he is not afraid of anything.

There are also directions requiring every professor to “identify their pronouns (she/he/they/zhe).”


They seem to be serious. There is an entire section on “personal pronoun preference.”

Farther down in the syllabus template, professors are directed to let their students know that they “acknowledge that we are meeting on the Idigenous [sic] lands of Turtle Island, the ancestral name for what is now North America.” They must also affirm: “I would like to acknowledge that Alabama-Coushatta, Caddo, Carrizo/Comecrudo, Coahuiltecan, Comanche, Kickapoo, Lipan Apache, Tonkawa, Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo and all the American and Indigenous Peoples who have been or have become a part of these lands and territories of Texas.”

The Comanche arrived in Texas after the Spanish, so why aren’t those great minds over at the prestigious “40 Acres” acknowledging that they are on the lands of Carlos III de Bourbon, His Most Catholic Majesty and King of Spain? And the “Turtle Island” reference is nonsense. It’s a creation story from native tribes in the Northeast, not Texas.

The point is, why aren’t professors at the McCombs School of Business required to inform their students that if it weren’t for Red McCombs, they wouldn’t have a building, desks or, indeed, a business school?

Furthermore, McCombs School of Business students should know that McCombs is one of those Texas giants who understood from the beginning that Texas—now the best reflection of the American idea—is not an accident. It has been and continues to be a hard-fought battle to maintain a state where freedom and liberty are harnessed to ensure businesses are free to innovate to create jobs and prosperity for all. McCombs never walked away from that fight.

Texas universities are on very shaky grounds these days. Enrollment is plummeting because students are no longer willing to pay outrageous tuition to have a steady diet of “pronoun protocols” and “land acknowledgements” shoved down their throats. They have also had it with the constant drum beat of so-called “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (DEI), which actually means exclusion, injustice and essentially a stacked deck for anyone who does not genuflect to the woke ideology that is destroying our colleges.

Other states are fighting back. Florida passed a “Stop Woke” Individual Freedom law designed to eliminate these kinds of ridiculous and divisive antics on campus and to affirm the principles of actual equality, merit and hard work. It requires that students be reminded that in America, we work together to overcome challenges and hardships—we don’t band together to blame others for them.

The University of Texas needs to wake up before somebody shows this syllabus to Red McCombs—and he demands his money back.


Inflation, Gas Prices, Drag Queens And Biden’s Sinking Poll Numbers

With inflation breaking records, gas prices pushing $10 per gallon and the border exploding with hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, President Joe Biden decided to issue an executive order to “enhance protections for transgender children and take steps to ban conversion therapy as efforts continue in Texas and other states to restrict gender-affirming medical care.”

“Gender affirming medical care” is a woke term that includes chemical castration and puberty blockers, as well as hormone injections from the opposite sex. It also includes actual castration and mastectomies that are not medically necessary. These irreversible and dangerous medical actions are more accurately described as “gender destroying.” They have nothing to do with care.

There’s no way to know what the president means by “conversion therapy” in this context, but it is clearly an effort to prohibit any restrictions by states like Texas against parents who want to experiment on their own children with dangerous “gender affirming” treatments.

Meanwhile, Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently appeared on a show where men dress up as women and mimic their speech and mannerisms — “RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars.”

Despite the insulting characterization of women by drag queens, which is increasingly being compared to minstrel black face by discerning feminists, Pelosi told the men dressed up and behaving as the most degrading female stereotypes that she wanted to thank them “for the joy and beauty you bring to the world.”

She added, “Your freedom of expression of yourselves in drag is what America is all about. I say that all the time to my friends in drag.”

Texas public school librarians apparently agree with the speaker that drag queens are what America is all about, because thousands of them attended a session on drag queen story hours at their recent meeting in Fort Worth.

They must have forgotten what happened in the Houston Public Library in 2019 when one of the drag queens brought in to read stories to children turned out to be a registered sex offender.

Drag queen reading programs in public libraries and public schools are increasingly common. Advocates describe them as a fun and harmless way to introduce children to the transgender movement.

Of course, most of America is not looking for a fun way to introduce their children to the transgender movement — which brings us back to Biden’s sinking popularity.

Gloria Romero, a Democrat and former U.S. House member from California, believes wokeism is part of Biden’s problem, at least with Hispanic voters.

After Biden’s approval dropped to 24% among Hispanics and Republican Mayra Flores’s historic South Texas victory, Romero said:

“We’re [Hispanics are] looking at the economy, we’re looking at approaches to immigration. We’re looking at language, my God. Here in California, among the Latino community, we not only celebrate Mother’s Day, we celebrate two Mother’s Days and the birthing people lingo doesn’t cut it for us.”

“Birthing people” is another woke term used to push the absurd notion that both men and women can deliver babies.

Setting aside the many ethical and public policy questions raised by Biden’s transgender executive order, let’s just look at the politics.

There’s no doubt about the fact that Biden has lost support across the board in every age, race and demographic category because of his destructive economic and border policies, but his approval rating is also at 39% because of what Romero said — the country is tired of having Democrat leaders like Biden and Nancy Pelosi push destructive and fringe behavior into the narrative as if it were normal.

Dealing with those who are suffering from gender dysphoria is not a gay rights issue — which most Americans support. Instead, Americans continue to view transgender issues as a medical and mental health challenge where it appears that drug treatments are not effective and can be damaging. We are seeing more and more stories of transgender adults who regret having had surgery in childhood.

Even if Biden manages to rein in inflation, lower gas prices and address the avalanche at the border, his base, particularly in the Hispanic community, will keep slipping away if he continues to be a megaphone for woke issues like “gender affirming treatment” for gender dysphoria victims. Most people are way ahead of him on this, and they just don’t buy it.

Sherry Sylvester is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. She is a political communications and public policy expert who has directed multi-million dollar statewide campaigns in New York and New Jersey and has been involved in dozens of Texas political campaigns.


A Path Forward for the Days to Come: Interview with the Hon. Lamar Smith

As we navigate the tumultuous waters of our political reality, it behooves us to lean on the expertise, experience, and wisdom of those who have successfully done so before. On Thursday, May 5th, TPPF’s Distinguished Senior Fellow Sherry Sylvester will have a candid discussion with the legendary former Texas Congressman Lamar Smith about what he sees in Congress today and what he believes will be the best path forward.

The Honorable Lamar Smith faithfully represented the Texas 21st District in Congress for 32 years, during which he moved Texas and the nation forward with visionary legislation on issues ranging from space age development to patent protection and tax reform. Congressman Smith is the only Texas Congressman to have chaired 3 committees during his tenure, and, in 2019, he was named the Texan of the Year by the Texas Legislative Council. After his service to the Lone Star State in Congress, Congressmen Smith worked for a time as a journalist and has been a longtime critic of media bias.