Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy:
One of the interesting aspects of the tenure system is that even many of its principal beneficiaries — tenured professors — agree that it is a severely flawed institution that should be scrapped.
Really? All I see are the same bunch of conservative gadflies making the same argument over and over again but never putting their money where their mouth is.
I always though it would be a cold day in hell when I agreed with Tyler Cowen about anything, but I certainly agree with this:
Traditionally I’ve been sympathetic to tenure (disclaimer: I have it), in part because the schools which have done away with it — the for-profits — have carved out a big niche but they have not displaced traditional non-profit, tenure-driven higher education in most fields. Few parents dream of sending their kids there. My point today is simply to note that tenure critics have yet to spell out what the alternative — and thus the debate — really looks like.
Somin responds to Cowen’s argument this way:
Tyler also makes the reasonable point that before we abolish tenure, we need to think carefully about what the alternative system would look like. There may not be any one system that would be best for all institutions. Competition and experimentation could lead to useful innovations.
It could also lead to hundreds, if not thousands of people ending up taking huge pay cuts or even jobless. That’s why I’m waiting for every professor who wants to abolish tenure to put their head on the chopping block first.
I expect to be waiting for a very long time.