Sep 12, 2010

The End of Tenure?

About a week ago the NYTimes ran an article-cum-book review on higher education and its latest plight, college's need to cut budgets and make ends meet in ways that they perhaps shouldn't (e.g., increasing tuition fees, cutting course offerings).
What's new in this picture is that institutions like tenure itself is being attacked in its role in granting job permanence for, presumably, dubious achievements. As is expected, the humanities and humanities faculty are the prime, and easy, target of the public's complaints against granted, and taken for granted, job security. Nevermind that, as Christopher Shea points out, "nearly two-thirds of all college teachers are non-tenure-track adjuncts like Matt Williams, who told Hacker and Dreifus he had taught a dozen courses at two colleges in the Akron area the previous year, earning the equivalent of about $8.50 an hour by his reckoning".
And such complaints against tenure seem to be now coming from, get this, liberal tenured folks ("the higher-ed jeremiads of the last generation came mainly from the right. But this time, it’s the tenured radicals — or at least the tenured liberals — who are leading the charge").
I find that almost hard to believe, and more evidence would be welcome, but then again, that's a book review article. What's worrisome, if not frightening, about higher ed's current plight, is that, as Christopher Shea insightfully concludes "it is not news that America is a land of haves and have-nots. It is news that colleges are themselves dividing into haves and have-nots; they are becoming engines of inequality."