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View Diary: This week in the War on Workers: Professor fights for-profit teacher licensing, loses her job (81 comments)

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  •  "Tenure-track" means "Not tenured yet, and (9+ / 0-)

    you don't do it our way, you never will be." There's no protection until you've completed the (usually) 6-year probationary period. Plenty of time to find legal (even if unethical) reasons for firing someone. I've seen it happen several times.

    •  Yep (4+ / 0-)

      Saw it happen when I was in grad school.  The professor in question sued the school and won.  This was back around 1990 and the technique was old then, so the practice of stiffing tenure-track professors has been around for a while.  It's one of the reasons I stopped at my MA (the other big one being the huge amount of debt involved in a PhD).

      Please feel free to HR me for my informative and argumentative nature. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

      by rbird on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 12:25:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  when you have to sue to get tenure, something's (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rbird, mahakali overdrive, sethtriggs

        wrong with all involved

        yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

        by annieli on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 01:21:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  that stifling is based on the culture of the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rbird

        institution.  It is also done by faculty to themselves.  It doesn't really make sense.

        •  "Done by faculty to themselves" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          annieli

          Oh do elaborate. Really.

          Also, are you IN Higher Ed, perchance?

          •  yes, I am in higher ed. and just received tenure. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rbird

            Here is how the tenure-track process works...

            As a new faculty member, you get reviewed in three areas -- teaching, scholarship, and service. You keep a portfolio with evidence of your proficiency in each of these areas.  In some cases, the department bylaws require a detailed letter of expectations for the new faculty member...in other cases, it is vague.

            You get reviewed multiple times during your first 6 years.  You can get non-renewed at any of these points if you are not making progress towards your tenure requirements.

            Your department is the first decision point.  They vote on your tenure (or renewal for earlier reviews).  This is the most important vote.  Further steps really need to have a very compelling reason to go against the department faculty vote.  The next step is usually a college (or university-wide, depending on size) personnel committee vote.  After that, it goes to the Dean and then on to the Provost.  If you want to see a university have a melt down, see what happens when a Dean or Provost goes against a faculty vote.

            At each stage, the faculty member does have the opportunity to file a response (if there are questions) or grievance.  For example, if you have evidence that you are doing well at teaching, scholarship, and service, but your department votes against you because they don't like you.  Obviously, this part is ugly and contentious.  But, it generally works.  Of course, if it doesn't, you can sue.

            It really is a pretty crazy process, but it does provide the tenure-track faculty member with protections.  Due Process!

            •  Oops...I didn't answer your question... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mahakali overdrive, rbird

              But, the process of review does help!

              So, by faculty stifling themselves, I mean:

              The faculty breeds a certain culture within their department.  At the ugly extreme, tenured faculty show disdain for untenured youngsters and "junior faculty."  They don't have much respect for junior faculty voices and expect them to toe the department line.  Even worse is when two (or more) factions of tenured faculty vie for power & untenured faculty get caught in the middle.  These power plays lead to stifling dissent.

              However, other departments are much more collegial and supportive of untenured colleagues.  They are respectful, helpful, and encourage untenured faculty to have a voice...higher ed utopia.

              Obviously, most departments are somewhere between these two points.

              Universities are interesting places, because faculty really don't have a "boss."  The administration has almost no control over curriculum & gets strength from cooperation (and purse strings).

              •  Agreed here (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rbird

                I've seen some of that factionalization and understand what you're talking about here. It can be very particular to any given institution and department without a doubt.

                Do you think, in the case of this Professor, that it was a more personal issue where she had bad blood with her Department itself? That is more likely to lead to a loss of position than a fight with Administration, usually, UNLESS it's a very programmatic field, which Education can be, and ruthlessly so at that.

                •  well, this person was not in a tenure-track (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  rbird

                  position, so it is hard to know.

                  If the university (or school of ed) decided (probably through faculty governance or external - Mass Dept of Ed mandate) that edTPA was going to be used, then it was the professional responsibility as director of that program to implement it.

                  That doesn't mean she can't personally and professionally dissent, but it also doesn't mean that there are no consequences for dissent.

                  •  Consequences for "dissent" (0+ / 0-)

                    are generally discouraged via Academic Freedom statutes. Particularly if something is still being piloted and is controversial (which it is; citations widely, widely available). There are current reviews ongoing by UMass Profs to determine whether this was a contractual violation. I'm curious about that. Since I have a friend at UMass, I plan to just ask directly about any buzz over there as well.

                    •  She seems to have had administrative respon. (0+ / 0-)

                      I don't know this specific case.  I also have no idea what was in her contract.  I do think it is important to note that the articles say she was responsible for "overseeing" the teacher ed program.  This is an important word.  It does denote that she had administrative responsibilities for the teacher ed program.  This might have been full-time (still an academic appointment) or part-time with other teaching responsibilities.  

                      An administrator, has specific expectations that are not covered by "academic freedom."  For example, an administrator in the College of Business would find him or herself out of a job in a hurry if they endangered the College's MBA accreditation.  An administrator that doesn't follow certification guidelines in a school of education jeopardizes the entire program and all of the students in it.  I don't think it would be wrong to fire that administrator.  In fact, that almost happened at a university in Wisconsin.  the director of the school of ed was negligent and scheduled student teachers a full 4 weeks shorter than required by law.  The university shut down it's teacher ed program for 3 years for "redesign" instead of having DPI shut it down entirely.

                      MA is listed as a state participating in edTPA with policy pending.  This means that it is very likely that the state will require the edTPA for teacher certification.  By instituting a pilot, the university was preparing for that requirement AND also taking an active role in the development of the assessment itself (Stanford takes these pilots very seriously).

                      It is also important to note that the Dean did the firing.  I assume (but don't know) that the pilot was an initiative of the College and it was the responsibility of the person overseeing the education program to implement it.  The pilot was likely endorsed by faculty as well.

                      •  If she was an administrator (0+ / 0-)

                        that would possibly change things, although it would depend on whether she held multiple appointments. Most faculty hold some type of administrative appointment, almost universally -- I'm sure you must, and I know I do as well. Of course, this depends wholly on her contract and in what capacity she was acting in this instance, which right now is much conjecture. From what I've read, she was an eight-year "lecturer" (I was initially under the impression that she was tenure-line; this would be of interest to me, this distinction, for obvious reasons).

                        So again, over at UMass, there is some motion to look through her contract and see if anything was violated. That's happening now.

                        That she was fired by the Dean isn't meaningful to me since I'm not sure whether it came FROM the Dean or not. Even if the Dean were to be the one with the axe.

                        Again, I think we'll see more about this story. It's certainly gaining traction amongst Professors in California right now who aren't very fond of the Common Core and/or actively oppose it, and also, who don't seem to like the way that this assessment was initiated. It's already gaining some pretty vocal pushback, although I suppose it's due to everyone stuck home grading on a weekend night.

                        Ultimately, I'll be honest in that I'm not all that concerned with the fate of this one, particular Professor, sorry, but I am fascinated by the greater implications of edTPA and would think a discussion about the design of it would be of central conversational concern here. It is widely viewed in a similar vein as RTTP is, and I think it contains the same sentiment which drove the recent Chicago Public Teacher's strike.

                        I have no particular comment in regard to MBA programs and how they conduct themselves.

            •  I almost stopped reading when you say "here is how (0+ / 0-)

              the tenure process works."

              Because I definitely know how it works. Firsthand. But it's illuminating to discuss, especially for anyone just tuning in.

              First and foremost, the review areas (teaching, scholarship, service) change considerably with each University and even in each Discipline.

              That you can get "non-renewed" based on "reviews" is vague as you're stating it. Whose reviews are you talking about here?

              It usually is departmental first and foremost, but your process doesn't follow that at my University, FWIW. We have a slightly different hierarchy. Agreed about Dean vs. Faculty vote.

              I'm strongly "for" tenure-track protections. I think it can be a flawed process, of course, and I've seen a few pre-tenure faculty make poor moves or fail to fulfill obligations. In the end, tenure ought be awarded when a Professor is fully able to serve as Department Chair of in another comparable, standalone capacity, plain and simple. They need to show that degree of competence. Also, they need to be able to work with, and stay with, their University for the long-term. Commitment goes two-ways.

              I'm largely agreeing with you, but still teasing out some of the nuances that shift from various institutions.

              Not to mention the differences between R1's, Teaching Colleges, and small Liberal Arts Colleges, etc.

              •  absolutely. I should have clarified that this (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mahakali overdrive

                is the process at the 2 universities that I was at.  And, there were lots of differences in the number of times I was reviewed by faculty & the amount of evidence I was expected to produce.

                Both of these were comprehensives (no PhD granting programs).

                I hope I'm not unique, I found the process fair and my colleagues were very supportive.  And, I'm not a conformist -- I did push them to consider non-traditional / new media publications & pushed the envelope frequently.

    •  again, not true. (0+ / 0-)

      First, the concept of tenure is very liberal.  It is something we should celebrate.  It is central to faculty governance...not dictation from administrators.

      In theory, the people that know the faculty member the best are the ones that make hiring and firing decisions.  The fact that someone is tenure-track does mean that they have certain protections.  For example:

      "Plenty of time to find legal (even if unethical) reasons for firing someone."

      Shows that there must be protections in place. By "legal" you mean reasons based on the bylaws of the department or handbook.  There must be "cause" for non-renewal.  The tenure-track faculty member can't just be fired at a whim.

      There are obviously many cases where the process is corrupted, but so many more times where it works the way it should.

      •  Tenure track faculty can be fired (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annieli, peregrine kate

        for all manner of reasons which may not formally be stated to be "on a whim," but are often precisely that, particularly at some notorious R1's where "tenure-track" is often used as a means to keep Professors at minimal pay without ever advancing them (in this case, not by firing, but simply by refusing tenure; faculty PARTIALLY evaluates this in conjunction WITH administration, who have the final say).

        •  classic case: Paul Baran, who was kept at (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mahakali overdrive

          minimum professorial salary throughout his entire career.

          Paul Alexander Baran (25 August 1909 – 26 March 1964) was an American Marxist economist. In 1951 Baran was promoted to full professor at Stanford University and Baran was the only tenured Marxian economist in the United States until his death in 1964. Baran wrote The Political Economy of Growth in 1957 and co-authored Monopoly Capital with Paul Sweezy

          yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

          by annieli on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 02:17:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  generally, if you are refused tenure, you need to (0+ / 0-)

          leave the university.

          I won't deny that there are places where the process is corrupted, but I prefer the tenure process to the business model!

          •  It depends why you're refused tenure though (0+ / 0-)

            If it's some B.S. requirement like you weren't cited enough times that year, that's a problem. Ditto with "enough service." That can be a sticking point and totally open to interpretation. Likewise, student evaluations dropping in terms of total score IF you simply had a bad batch.

            Then there's the really fun one of having an incompetent tenure committee.

            Finally, there's the sad fact that some R1s will hire tenure-track with no intent to ever award tenure at all, simply cycling through tenure-track faculty on-and-on. Some Universities/Departments are notorious for this.

            Just a few examples.

            But I strongly support tenure review over other dubious models. Nonetheless, the process can, and is often, flawed.

            •  yes - Like I said earlier. The process can be (0+ / 0-)

              corrupted.  I did my homework to avoid those places - but often you don't know until you start.

              •  I also specifically asked to see the department (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mahakali overdrive

                by-laws and a letter of expectation before I took my second position.  I was well informed by my adviser!

                •  Often, freshly-minted Ph.D's have no choice (0+ / 0-)

                  with the academic job market being what it is, placement is very often not a choice, and with the recent dustup over in Colorado, the notion of landing any tenure-line job within three years is only further underscored for new hires.

                  It's not always about choice. I applaud anyone on the job market who can make a selection about which program they would prefer to join, else risk potentially losing their entire academic career.

                  Did you receive your second position post-tenure? Am I reading this properly?

                  •  no. I left my first position after 2 years (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    mahakali overdrive

                    for a different university.  I was able to bring those 2 years with me in terms of the tenure clock.

                    I do understand the job market.  Surprisingly (to some, at least), the market for many teacher ed faculty areas is not that deep.  

                    (By the way, I'm in Wisconsin.  For obvious reasons, we struggle getting people to apply for open faculty positions!)

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