Word out of Florida today is that a bill that would prohibit the granting of tenure at state and community colleges went through a legislative committee yesterday and is headed to the state senate. Faculty would work on annual contracts but administrators would not; only new and untenured faculty would be affected by the law.
So it is no accident that community college presidents, who are protected under the proposed legislation, understand what a disaster this policy is. It worth emphasizing that the right has produced a new strategy that is remarkably consistent: going after “workers” in the name of “citizens” and “taxpayers” — as if they were not all the same people. In Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida right wing special interests and their political stalking horses have provoked college professors — who are already educated, can leave the state and will — with the hopes of caricaturing them as a bunch of overpaid, lazy babies who are sucking at the public t!t while students languish. But the people who will suffer, as the little story I opened with argues, are students. Students will have a longer time to graduation, they will have access to less qualified faculty who can’t get better jobs, and most of their professors will be stopping off on their way to somewhere else. This, I am sure, will get lost in the debate as free marekteers replicate the success they have had in transforning the real estate market, higher finance and Iraq in the last decade.
In the coming weeks, we at Tenured Radical will have more to say about disinvestment in higher education in many kinds of schools, as well as its consequences for students as well as faculty. The management actively solicits guest posts on these issues. Although we have consistently bucked for the reform of the tenure system, the elimination of tenure in a climate in which any protection for public employees, is under attack and any security for the creation and maintenance of stable, dedicated faculties that can guide students through a two or four year degree, is truly unthinkable. We withdraw that position, pending a change in the political atmosphere.