So what’s the solution to the academic jobs crisis? Destroy job protections for everybody!

22 07 2010

This sounds good, right?:

At the end of the process, most of the aspirants do not have tenure; they have dropped out, or been dropped, at some point along the way. Meanwhile, the system has ripped up their lives in other ways. They’ve invested their whole youth, and are back on the job market near entry level at an age when most of their peers have spent ten years building up marketable skills. Many of them will have seen relationships ripped apart by the difficulties of finding not one, but two tenure-track jobs in the same area. Others will have invested their early thirties in a college town with no other industry, forcing them to move elsewhere to restart both their careers and their social lives. Or perhaps they string along adjuncting at near-poverty wages, unable to quite leave the academy that has abused them for so long.

Marc Bousquet? Cary Nelson? It sounds kind of left-wing, right?

No, it’s Megan McCardle of the Atlantic arguing that tenure must be destroyed:

The current tenure system only protects revolutionary, dangerous ideas to the extent that they spring full blown from an academic’s head after he has secured tenure, startling the hell out of everyone who hired him. Or perhaps after he’s secured his full professorship. Or after he’s managed to move to a better class of research institution with a nicer salary.

Since I don’t know of many cases where this has happened, I find it hard to believe that tenure is crucial to preserving the spirit of free inquiry at our nation’s colleges.

I defy anyone to find me one poor, oppressed untenured thirty-something professor whose solution to the academic jobs crisis is to destroy tenure. Where is that rush to be an adjunct? If I read one more conservative columnist or tenured academic trying to evoke sympathy for the oppressed professors of the world in order to kill tenure for everyone I am going to scream.




2 responses

22 07 2010

If I thought tenure would be replaced by multi-year renewable contracts, then I’d be OK with it — but, I don’t have that kind of confidence in the administration’s commitment to quality.

23 07 2010
Iain Menzies

Thought provoking. If you are searching for work or jobs in the UK please have a look at and find the city of yuor choice

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