August 31, 2012
The notion that tenure provisions in the contracts of University Professors or school teachers means that they are uniquely protected against firing for incompetency is a scurrilous lie.
Many, many job places that do not have anything called “tenure” do in fact have procedures in place, formal or otherwise, that respect the duration of service to the place of employment.
The notion that those more senior than oneself are undeserving of the job titles, promotions, payrate and/or privileges that you do not currently enjoy is a nice comforting meme. But if you are going to advance a strong accusation against the seniority system and argue about who “deserves” to have a job and who does not, you better bring some ammunition.
Or, you know, run for office as a Republican where that kind of unverified ranting convinces someone useful.
UPDATE: Zen reminded of his post on a peer reviewed article examining career arcs. The key points:
The models indicate that as competition increases, many people can be taken out of the career pathway by… blind, stinking, clueless, doo-da luck.
Just as one can seemingly succeed through alignment of circumstances with a normal level of talent and effort, one can wash out through no fault of one’s own too.
But the competition turns out to be very important in this model; and that relates to tenure. Many people want to see tenure replaced with a series of recurring short-term contracts. The authors imply that the short-term model could be harmful for the development of science. A failure in one short-term contract could derail a productive researcher, since early career shocks can ripple throughout a scientist’s career.
And this is why we’re in the state of “Do it to Julia, not me, Julia” backstabbing panic about the NIH budget situation. The immense fear on the part of
all many of us that the next grant rejection means the end of our career is palpable. Visceral. The anger of the young that they are “better than” half of the existing faculty and therefore deserve that person’s job is clear. Very clear.
but be careful about that to which you aspire. Our history of pure Darwinian tooth-and-nail employment is not a pretty one. The dawning of the industrial age showed us how that goes down.
Job protections are there because on average they make all workers’ experiences better. Not there to protect the lazy and incompetent. That effect is an unintended consequence.
So when you are ranting your rants about the deadwood tenured fucks, please, do your homework. Show us how dismantling Professorial tenure is not going to rapidly devolve us to the level of the itinerant Adjunct Professor.