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View Diary: Florida Governor Rick Scott Takes Aim at University Tenure (205 comments)

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  •  No, academia isn't the only end goal for new PhDs (1+ / 0-)
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    but I don't think it can be denied that it is the goal for a significant number of them, many more than will ever even hope to find jobs in academia. Of course, this is true for all professions -- fewer spots at the top than applicants at the bottom -- but most of those professions don't RELY on producing those applicants at the bottom just to sustain the sunlight at the top, and most of those professions don't cement the top positions into place quite so thoroughly.

    •  The graying of the work force (7+ / 0-)

      is a challenge in many fields, that's for sure. It is by no means only in education that younger people are having a hard time moving up to high quality jobs. This is happening in medicine and law as well, and in other fields, too, that don't have tenure.

      So, you might think that mandatory retirement ages might be a good thing. Based on one lawyer retirement study that shows that only 3.5% of lawyers plan to continue to work after regular retirement age mainly for the reason of income (whereas 40% say they will "to stay active"), we can see a huge difference between that one profession and education. Many educators have never made an income that would allow them to comfortably retire at regular retirement age. Many educators feel a need to continue to work because otherwise they won't have the income to live.

      It's also true that for a complex array of reasons, many universities have developed the habit of relying on grad-student and adjunct labor. I think this latter fact is something that needs to be altered--it is generally bad for everyone including the grad students, the adjuncts, the undergrad students who are taught by marginalized labor, AND the tenure-track and tenured faculty who have to do far more service and advising spread between far fewer of them. The rising percentage of undergrad courses taught by marginalized labor and the wanna-be, never-get-there system are huge problems.

      However, if that system is now abusive to the younger grad students with few prospects for full-time jobs, then abolishing tenure might just inverse the abuse scheme. Then we will have universities firing experienced (and relatively more expensive) faculty to hire cheap, new faculty every ten (or five or twelve) years. Either it would be a system where faculty would accept never getting raises (and we get few as it is) or in which they would be regularly replaced. If the latter, we would have a host of middle- to late-aged faculty members dumped long before their careers should be over. This would just transfer the abuse to a different group.

      We need some other way to even things out.

    •  I'm now in industry. When I first made the move (0+ / 0-)

      from Academia to Industry, I always thought the reason few ever came back to Academia from Industry was that they couldn't. Now that I've been in Industry for a while, I see that very few academic positions would be attractive in comparison to what I've got now. It would take a Full Professor Chaired position at a decent University to get me back into Academia and that's simply not going to happen.

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