Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Nadine du Nord Sends in Some Wisconsin Misery.

Say goodbye to your tenure!

On May 29th, the Joint Finance Committee met to debate proposed budget cuts to the University of Wisconsin System. The result is a document which should make those who hate public education happy. The budget proposal eliminates tenure and shared governance and outlines how to fire faculty members for any reason whatsoever. Nothing about protecting academic freedom in there.

The links...

Hope whoever was teaching that course on "Ancient Mating Habits of Whatever" has a new job somewhere else by now.


  1. At first I hate the bullshit going on in another part of the country because as goes there, so too may go everywhere, then I hate myself for considering that my department is running a search and we might make out well because of the bullshit going on in another part of the country.

    1. K-12 public schools in my state lost the equivalent of tenure recently. Thankfully, those who had it before the state ended it will have tenure until the end of their careers... or until the courts change their mind. Tenure was really the only perk that kept people in teaching. Now, other states are poaching my state's teachers and offering them lucrative bonuses to move away. My state's government wanted to run education like a business. Well, that's business! You treat your teachers like crap and they'll find a place that treats them better. Now, my state's education level is declining. The universities will be next, I'm sure. Charter schools and for-profit colleges for all, I suppose... and lament.

      Many of my professors at my undergraduate alma mater went to University of Wisconsin-Madison. They have a great history program there and I could tell my professors were well-taught and trained. The way they described UW-M's library's history collection makes me wish I could dwell and die there. It's sad to think that may all be going away.

  2. The idea that tenure is anti-competitive and anti-productive is not new. People outside the academy are suspicious of tenure for that and a number of reasons, but they often forget that they enjoy the privilege of some job protections such as due process, or at the very least, low odds that they'll be axed for the ideas they hold, even if only because those ideas don't come up in the normal execution of their job functions. The very job function of the professoriate, on the other hand, is to put those ideas out there and subject them to critical analysis. Ah, but then we're indoctrinating our students, and that's bad, and everything that might allow us $300k-earning, commie-pinko-dogma-espousing, pipe-smoking, teacher's lounge-loafing elitists to actually do our jobs must be dismantled piecemeal if not wholesale.

    The idea that education should run more like a business is also not new. The problems with that approach are several and incude: 1- business caters less to the needs and more to the wants of its customers, because customer satisfaction = profit; and 2- business owners (especially shareholders) often sacrifice long-term stability to short-term profit, and "eating" competitors or strategically being eaten is a viable model. As to the latter, the planet needs some stable institutions for some of the same reasons the US needs a Supreme Court: sometimes the populace is attracted to things that are against their long-term interests, sometimes one faction can do things that seriously fuck over another, and in either case someone has to pump the brakes. Education exists because the customer is wrong and must be made dissatisfied from time to time, and since educating the customer is only part of a university's raison d'ĂȘtre anyway, it makes little sense (to me) to corporatize the university.

    Inspired most lately by Nadine's bringing us the latest in Wisconsin, I have joined colleagues at my institution in standing up for something that will cost some short-term (and even long-term) dollars but will ultimately strengthen the institution and its ability to carry out its mission, which is the REAL "good for business" in this educational context. I cannot give you specifics, but I can tell you that my participation in this forum has everything to do with informing my outlook and motivating me to shoulder the cart onto the clear path that must be taken.