Skip to main content

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

Comment Preferences

  •  Dear Mindtrain, (3+ / 0-)

    I agree with some of what you say, but not with the attack on tenure (or on me, for that matter).

    I do say in my post that there are many different aspects of higher education that I would like to discuss--the brutality of reliance and poor conditions for adjuncts is one of them. I can't do it all in one short post, but you're probably right that I should have mentioned it.

    Still, there are a few comments that do mention it and to which I responded--see, for instance, duck152's comment "Just something to consider" and upstate NY's comment "They already got rid of tenure."

    We are not all heartless, privileged bastards who think that taking unfair advantage is right. In fact, I have a number of friends who have gone from instructor positions or community college jobs to tenure-line jobs who have told me that they would go back if they could. One friend even did go back to a community college job; she had a 3-2 load and tenure, but left to go to a 4-4 and required summer teaching because of the unholy pressures for tenured faculty. It's not as clear as it may seem to you.

    And perhaps if academic freedom could be preserved in a different system, there would be a better alternative than tenure. However, I'm afraid you have no idea what the implications of the abolishing of tenure would be.

    Recently at my university a new department was established with a new, business-model structure. It does still have a few tenured faculty, all of whom have now also received course releases and perks for handling administrative tasks as well. The new department did convert several adjunct positions into "permanent" (meaning renewable yearly) instructor jobs.  Many of those adjuncts felt this an improvement in their lives. But I look at this department and see a permanent structure where the majority of those spending the majority of time in the classroom have a curriculum dictated to them from above, have little choice in what they teach or even the books they use, and who are involved in governance only to the extent that the administrators are in the mood to allow it.

    We are not talking about the abolishing of tenure allowing more equal space at the table. We are talking about a practice that will take away even more of your and my stakes alike.

    I agree that we need much more conversation about the gaps between tenure-line and non-tenure-line faculty, as well as the many injustices perpetuated in academia. But let me tell you that if the tenured faculty falls as such, then there will be fewer and fewer people around who can defend that cause without being summarily fired.

    •  Rec'ing for most of what you say (0+ / 0-)

      though I'm flabbergasted, as a former academic, that anybody would choose to go back to 4-4 untenured faculty position over a 3-2 tenured position.

      Pressures of tenure notwithstanding, I have a hard time feeling like tenure is a burden.

      Nowhere do I understand that national security is a substitute for the law.---Thomas Drake You cannot tell from appearances how things will go.--Winston Churchill

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 09:31:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, (0+ / 0-)

        it is rather amazing. The only thing I can really figure out is that the job of an adjunct or instructor has clearer boundaries, whereas the job of a tenured professor morphs into a million different things these days. I think that sometimes people long for boundaries.

        There is some burden in responsibility. I'm not saying that adjuncts don't have their own burden, but there is a burden  in some of what tenure implies if not in tenure itself.

        That is not, however, justification for the low pay-scale of adjuncts and some instructors. I don't actually think the workloads are all that different (in type, yes, but in quantity, no), but the pay scales are, and that is the main issue.

    •  I nowhere said we should abolish tenure. Only that (0+ / 0-)

      it was unjustifiable from the position of the work most of us in the Humanities teach. And that people (with tenure) never acknowledge that (at least in this diary). I am not blaming tenured faculty for this system, but for (in important ways) repeating it's exclusion in the ways they speak about and discuss tenure. And this exclusion is existential. These are real people, your colleagues, who clearly are not even part of the conversation or included within it (and, on a daily basis, this is the dominant practice with regard to tenure vs. Adjunct labor: you wish we would go away). Not that long ago, we were at the very least treated as faculty, with dignity and respect that all faculty are accorded. That is now no longer the case. In my department, we're somewhere BeHIND graduate student (non-degreed) labor in the hierarchy (these students bring in money for the grad program and are potential future tenured faculty). Never mind that adjunct labor is the backbone of my Department and that over 50% of educators in my system are adjuncts.

      What I object to is the way in which we are systematically excluded from your thoughts and beliefs about tenure. Something is missing here in this formulation, in this diary, and in many/most of what is being presented here.

      I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that I had personally attacked you or anyone. And I don't believe I have. Rather, I've tried to explain to you that what you've done here does a disservice to all of us in the fight we are all engaged in. I have tried to provoke you to thinking beyond the comfort of your frames of reference and to do so in a way that takes the lives of the excluded seriously.

      Exclusion seldom happens because people are "heartless" and "cruel." it happens because it's something that is eluding people's thoughts, lives, experiences. When there is a system of complicity with an injustice built into the system, then there is an automatic "out" for people with tenure (who can explain all of these issues away as personal attacks, jealousy, resentment, etc rather than face the reality of their complicity in this system and how it distorts their perception of tenure.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

  • Recommended (132)
  • Community (65)
  • Media (32)
  • Elections (32)
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (31)
  • 2016 (29)
  • Law (28)
  • Environment (28)
  • Civil Rights (26)
  • Culture (25)
  • Barack Obama (24)
  • Hillary Clinton (23)
  • Republicans (22)
  • Climate Change (21)
  • Science (21)
  • Labor (20)
  • Economy (19)
  • Josh Duggar (18)
  • Jeb Bush (18)
  • Bernie Sanders (17)
  • Click here for the mobile view of the site