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Tue Jun 23, 2015, 07:36 AM

Since when did tenure become a liberal icon??

Scott Walker takes on another liberal icon: tenured professors.....

First, Gov. Scott Walker defeated public-sector labor unions. Then, he declawed their private-sector counterparts. Now, just weeks before his expected entry into the presidential race, the Wisconsin Republican is staring down another conservative target: college professors.

The trifecta could cement Walker’s reputation among conservative Republican primary voters as a bold leader willing to battle entrenched interests of the left in the name of reform.

But faculty at the state’s universities — backed by national higher education groups — say he is risking the quality and prestige of one of the country’s leading state universities to fuel his presidential ambitions.

The clash of values echoes many that have erupted since Walker took office after the 2010 election. Loud, polarizing debates have punctuated the Walker years. The attention they received has catapulted him into the front ranks of those seeking the GOP presidential nomination. His campaign, expected to formally launch next month, is largely built around his image as a fighter for conservative causes who has won key battles.

In this small city, the University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus, long seen as a liberal bastion, sits less than a mile from the state Capitol, and the lines between the conservative governor and his liberal opponents are sharply drawn.

Professors fume at what they regard as a multi-pronged attack. Walker’s allies say he and the Republican-majority Legislature are carrying out a mandate for reform on behalf of beleaguered taxpayers.

http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-83843821/

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Response to a kennedy (Original post)

Tue Jun 23, 2015, 07:47 AM

1. I guess they're emblematic of job security, which most people love, but which is hated by plutocrats

It used to be that a lot more people actually worked for a company until they retired, got a defined pension, etc. (Obviously not everyone, we didn't actually live in 'Pleasantville', but a heck of a lot greater percentage of folks than now, even if most of them were white.) But that's not how you maximize profit. It's far cheaper to keep shuffling employees, so that you're constantly using lower paid shorter term folks with few or no benefits, and force them to fund their own '401k's' rather than put aside anything for their pensions.

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Response to Erich Bloodaxe BSN (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 23, 2015, 08:11 AM

2. Beat me to it.

It's quite obvious to me that the ruling class wants the rest of us afraid and alone.

Maybe their mothers read Thomas Hobbes to them as a bedtime story.

-- Mal

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Response to a kennedy (Original post)

Tue Jun 23, 2015, 08:22 AM

3. The righties have hated higher ed since the 60's, at least

and have been going after tenure at the K-12 level now for decades. I don't see any reason to be surprised, other than how long it has taken them to put the 2 together.

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Response to a kennedy (Original post)

Tue Jun 23, 2015, 08:30 AM

4. Tenure's just a smokescreen consistent with the other anti-job security moves. The target is...

...liberal-leaning college professors. Republicans would like to scare them away from thinking they can take a liberal viewpoint in their teaching without paying a price. What pubbies just don't get is that education and liberalism are naturally bonded.

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Response to Gidney N Cloyd (Reply #4)

Tue Jun 23, 2015, 08:56 AM

8. With a smidgen of anti-reality bias thrown in.

The cachet of academia is still considerable, and with it an unseemly reverence for facts and thought, so it must particularly amuse the capitalists to bring all them fancy perfessers to their knees.

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Response to a kennedy (Original post)

Tue Jun 23, 2015, 08:43 AM

5. Tenure is always "the problem" when it's in the way.

I've seen progressives red-faced angry at tenure when it was in their way, so let's not kid ourselves.

The classical Japanese literature professor teaches 3 classes per year, with 8 students per class while the anime class has 300 students and a 400-student waiting list? Can't hire somebody to teach all the popular classes because of all the Milton, Spencer, Shakespeare, etc., faculty? Or when the German Dept. has a tenured Dutch specialist, medievalist, Norwegian folklore expert, and and historical dialectologist but sociology needs tenure lines? Or when tenured faculty make $125k/year while the adjuncts teaching Afro-Caribbean Literature or "Feminist approaches to literature" get $3k/course--and the senior tenured pay increases are often more than $3k/year!? And that guy saying that many of the environment problems due to population growth are because of immigrants--a thinly veiled anti-Latino racist "dog whistle"! And what to do when 3% salary increases for high-priced tenured faculty make hiring even new adjuncts impossible?

Them's the arguments in a nutshell.

Tenure means inflexible staffing.

Tenure means budgetary inflexibility.

Tenure means unpopular words can be uttered without fear of losing your job.

Tenure means that you're not being taught by people like you or whom you like, on account of politics or ethnicity or age or gender.

Given that professorships skew left on average, the "unpopular words" concern is mostly a (R) thang, but not entirely. The first two are mostly administrator issues, but that's because the left-of-center complaints are fielded on campus and seldom break out into the news. Esp. on DU, which, like most groups, defends its own.

Given Walker's past, it's hard to tell if he's out for budgetary control or political control. Often with him the two coincide: control is control. However, the political problem is that he's vying for control, which many students and administrators also want and consequently hate tenure just as much. (Yes, many students will say they like tenure, but really want to get rid of all these old professors who teach out-of-date courses. They're students and miss the fact that what they're really saying is "we like tenure when it suits us, but hate it when it's in our way."

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Response to a kennedy (Original post)

Tue Jun 23, 2015, 08:50 AM

6. When the other side became the Party of Not Knowing Stuff.

And the Party of You Don't Need to Know.

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Response to a kennedy (Original post)

Tue Jun 23, 2015, 08:52 AM

7. It's an anti-union thing, but also, professors who have tenure can say things

that are unpopular. Without it, professors only teach in a way that is safe.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-r-cole/why-academic-tenure-is-es_b_779440.html

Why do the great universities and colleges have tenure? First, academic freedom and tenure should be distinguished from the First Amendment's Freedom of Speech. Tenure grew up in the first two decades of the 20th century in response to the abusive use of power by university presidents and Trustees who were free to fire professors for almost any reason, most often because of their social and political views. This was, after all, the Lockner Age, when rights of contract were sacred and employers could fire employees virtually at will. There are hundreds of illustrative cases and some empirical evidence that chronicles the use of abusive power: E. A. Ross, the noted economist and sociologist, was fired from Stanford University at the turn of the 20th century for his advocacy of free silver and his criticism of monopolies, especially railroads, (the basis for Leyland Stanford's fortune). Such was also the fate at Columbia where James McKeen Cattell, the highly esteemed psychologist, who offended President Nicholas Murray Butler by supporting resistance to conscription upon America's entry into World War I. Less notable junior faculty member were even more likely to be jettisoned from universities if they criticized the powers that be. So academic freedom and tenure were mechanisms put in place to redefine the employment relationships at universities and to wrest power away from Presidents and Trustees (and external political leaders), and place the power for certain types of university decisions into the hands of the faculty. It was designed as well to enhance the chances that our great universities would more closely approximate the ideal of free and open discourse about all ideas - whether they offended the political authorities of the time, or whether they offended one's faculty and administrative colleagues. This core university value is essential for the discovery of new knowledge and the free exchange of ideas in the classroom and on and off campus.

The long history of anti-intellectualism in the United States, which seems to raise its ugly head every 20 years or so and exists today, provides us with countless examples of efforts to fire or sanction - or at least to intimidate - faculty members whose ideas and research reject the prevailing wisdom and the politically correct positions of the day.

Was Professor Taylor not alive when the repression of the McCarthy era hit the universities - shortly after HUAC took on the Hollywood ten? Even before McCarthy, university professors who refused to sign loyalty oaths, who openly supported the Communist Party, or who simply were Fellow Travelers, were subjected to sanctions, including dismissals for their views and their associations. Nothing in industry would have prevented the firing of these individuals, but universities are sanctuaries for the open discussion of any ideas, however radical. Firings and dismissal did take place during these perilous times, and in retrospect were the basis for shame in the academy, but many whose views ran against the orthodox, were protected from dismissals and sanctions. And it is unquestionably true, if you look at the history of American higher education closely, that universities that wished to fire faculty because of their views, picked on junior, non-tenured faculty, before they dared to bring charges against those who were prominent members of the tenured ranks. Harvard fired a number of junior faculty members during the McCarthy period after collaborating with the FBI that gathered information about those "suspect" individuals (people like Professor Sigmund Diamond), but while they might have hoped to get rid of Professor John Kenneth Galbraith, it would have been near impossible because the distinguished economist had tenure. Beyond firings, the set of repressive behaviors had a chilling effect on campus discourse, and, as Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Wagner Thielens, demonstrated in The Academic Mind, over a quarter of social scientists during the McCarthy period pulled their intellectual punches out of fear of reprisal. As Chicago's President Robert Hutchins, a great defender of free inquiry and a marketplace of ideas, said: "The question is not how many professors have been fired for their beliefs, but how many think they might be. The entire teaching profession is intimidated." It's not much different today, at least according to recent surveys.

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Response to a kennedy (Original post)

Tue Jun 23, 2015, 09:09 AM

9. Tenure means I can teach US involvement in Latin America...

during the Cold War in a state like West Virginia without fear of pissing someone off and losing my job (I get student evaluations that say things like "she's a commie, blah, blah, blah". Luckily, the Koch brothers don't seem interested in investing in our College of Arts and Sciences, so I'm not in too much danger anyway (they only invested in our Business school, where the profs make close to $200K while liberal arts professors hover in the mid-$50s)...but I digress.

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Response to a kennedy (Original post)

Tue Jun 23, 2015, 08:21 PM

10. Hoping I can get a few, just a few, more responses to this d*mn daimportant topic.....

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