Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Frannie in Florida Sounds an Alarum.

Please make everyone aware of what is going on in the Florida House regarding community college faculty and tenure.
If it passes, House Bill 7193 (also known as PCB KCOS 11-03), which has cleared committee, will effectively do away with continuing contracts/tenure - unilaterally - at Florida colleges.  I hope that it doesn't pass.  But given what has already occurred in Florida since the recently-elected governor (elected by the smallest margin ever in the history of our state) has taken office and seeing what is going on in Wisconsin, Ohio, etc. I honestly don't have much hope that it won't pass.  And if it happens, then other states may well use Florida as a precedent. 


Bill Ending Tenure at State College System Clears House Subcommittee

Measure faces little problem in the House, fate in the Senate remains unclear
from the Sunshine state news
A proposal that would pull the plug on multiyear contracts for new state college and community college faculty members and administrators advanced through the House K-20 Competitiveness Subcommittee Tuesday on a party-lines vote.

Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, the chairman of the subcommittee, relinquished the gavel to present the bill to the committee. He insisted that only employees at the 28 schools in the State College System -- and not universities -- would be impacted by the proposal.

The measure would impact all new hires -- save college presidents -- after July 1, moving them to one-year contracts as opposed to multiyear contracts.


  1. Well, until the rot spreads, that's going to make hiring anyone in Florida pretty damn hard to do. Nobody who has any options at all will take a job there.

    But if they succeed all kinds of people will leap on the bandwagon of course.

    This devaluing of education, and people who have put in years - and years - of training to be able to do this job, is astonishing. But given the general transfer of wealth and its accompanying security and other benefits out of the hands of the working and middle classes and into the hands of the rich over the last 30 years makes it predictable I suppose. We're all slaves and cannon-fodder, to them. Why should we have job security? Why should we have any rights at all? It's not as if an educated electorate is any part of their agenda.

  2. sorry, should read "it was predictable I suppose" - editing error.

  3. Somewhat cynical response: I hope that the professors in Florida and elsewhere who (rightly) protest this will also look around their home institutions and take note of what percentage of their faculty is already working under these conditions. One can, of course, measure the proportion of non-tenure-eligible faculty at an institution in various ways (by counting individuals, both full- and part-time; by FTEs; by number of sections or students taught per semester), but, by many measures, we're already in the majority at many places. If faculty members of all kinds are going to fight for the continuing existence of tenure, we're going to have to pay attention to the forces that are gradually but very effectively eroding it at most institutions as well as the more overt attacks taking place in a few places.

  4. Unfortunately, there are so many people out there without options, they will have no problem filling those positions. They will get what they paid for, however, clearly excellence is not what they want. They just want instructors who will assign grades and push students out the door.

  5. 1/3 of the teaching done in my discipline in Canada is done by contract faculty; approximately the average for every discipline in Canada. In the US more than half of the post-secondary teaching is done by contract faculty. In Canada, they're generally unionized, which means that after a few years they usually have some kind of minimal job security (first dibs on courses they've taught before, and that sort of thing). They are still underpaid and have minimal benefits. And are every bit as well-trained and well-qualified as all of us who won the lottery and scored a TT job.

  6. honest_prof: "They just want instructors who will assign grades and push students out the door."

    I think that attitude is tellingly, if unintentionally, revealed by this (mis)statement by the author of the article:

    "Bullard insisted that abolishing tenure would lead to less professors with terminal degrees . . ."

    Professor as a mass-noun, not a count-noun. No longer individual experts, but an interchangable supply of some sort of impersonal teaching 'substance'.

  7. The mass-noun bit is a matter of large organizational psychology - reducing people to "Human Capital" or to "Human Assets".

    I can see the contract-basis in play in my part-time work as an adjunct - I have no illusions as to my place in the academic food chain, but I wouldn't cheerfully tolerate that basis for my full-time gig.

  8. Bullard insisted that abolishing tenure would lead to less professors with terminal degrees . . .

    Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance, stupidity, or any combination of the two.

    The misuse of "less" for number-count objects is quite, quite common in student writing. More and more of those students are finding their way into politics, and journalism, without ever learning the difference between "less" and "fewer."

  9. Wait a second. We should be worried about this, all of us, and regardless of the adjunct situation. Tenure is for academic freedom, and when you have SOME tenured faculty, you have people who can speak to the administration without fear of reprisal. The brouhaha with Professor Cronon is truly chilling, but he actually cannot be fired from his job, and that is the saving grace of it all.

    I'm not saying that it's OK that the university has immiserated a whole generation of academics with the adjunct system. But saying "this is fine because hey, that's how my own job is" is just like what's going on with the public sector, where people in the private sector are against pensions, health benefits, etc. because theirs were stripped away first. If you're an adjunct, don't let the fact of your disenfranchisement move you to support the disenfranchisement of others. Because you can bet that without the tenure system, absolutely nobody will be there to speak on behalf of faculty, at all.

  10. @F&T: agreed, at least in theory. But I have to say that, in practice, I just haven't seen much evidence that tenure-track faculty, at least at my own university, are interested in or willing to speak for the interests of the non-TT faculty. Instead, they're very busy working toward the goal of making our R2 into a R1, and trying to get the teaching loads and research leaves for themselves that will support that goal. They've made considerable progress, but at the cost of turning over a very high proportion of the gen ed classes (which fill much more reliably than some of the upper-level ones in our department) to part- and full-time contingent faculty who make much less, and have much less of a voice in governance, than the TT faculty do.

    I think it may come down to the fact that the interests of non-TT and TT faculty (or perhaps teaching-intensive and research-intensive faculty) have been diverging for some time, and, at this point, simply aren't similar enough for one group to speak for the other. In fact, if both groups had equal power, I suspect there would be some clashes over resources and priorities. That doesn't mean I support any further erosion in tenure; in fact, I'd like to see it expanded to cover teaching-intensive jobs such as my own, along the lines of the AAUP's recent proposals. But I'm not seeing any great enthusiasm for those proposals among the TT faculty, either (though the dismissal tends to be couched in passing-the-buck terms: "that's a good idea, but the Dean/Provost/President will never go for it," and back to business as usual).

    Given the above, I find it's getting harder and harder for me to feel as strongly about preserving tenure as I would if I thought there were a real chance that I would some day hold it myself. I don't think I would be better off if others lost tenure, or the opportunity for tenure, and I have no desire to deprive someone else of tenure just because I don't have it. But I'm also not at all convinced that I'm better off because someone else with very different interests from my own has tenure.

  11. P.S. I wish the above weren't the case. I'm enough of an idealist to want cross-rank/contract type faculty solidarity to be a reality. But, in practice, I'm just not seeing it.


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