Conservatives want lifetime employment for university professors

MISSION, Kansas (AP) — When Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called on Texas universities to reject critical racial theories, University of Texas faculty defend their freedom to decide how to teach about race. approved the resolution.

Patrick said he took it as a message to “go to hell”.

Meanwhile, Patrick, a Republican, said it’s time to consider holding faculty accountable by targeting one of the job’s best benefits.

“Maybe tenure needs to be considered,” Patrick said at a press conference in November.

This is a sentiment echoed by conservative officials in dangerous states across the country. Indefinite academic appointments with tenure — the Holy Grail of college employment — face scrutiny by legislators or state oversight boards in at least six states, a bid to curb academics with liberal views. is often presented as

Incumbent advocates brace for possible new threats as lawmakers return to state capitols across the country.

How are trends reflected conservative scrutiny The scope of education related to race, gender and sexuality extends from school to higher education. But budget considerations also play a role. Tenured faculty numbers are declining even in more liberal states. Universities are hiring more part-time adjunct faculty amid diminishing financial support from state governments.

Traditionally, tenured professors can only be dismissed in extreme circumstances such as professional misconduct or financial emergencies. Tenure proponents say tenure is an important component of academic freedom. Especially because of the growing controversy surrounding scholarly debates about history and identity.

Without tenure, faculty members “tend to stay safe when it comes time to discuss difficult topics in the classroom,” says Eileen Mulvey, president of the American Association of University Professors.

But in difficult times, both financially and politically, even tenured professors may not be guaranteed employment.

Emporia State University in Kansas cut 33 faculty members, mostly tenured, this fall. This allowed the university to circumvent policies on staff layoffs in order to balance the budget.

Emporia State University’s only professor of journalism, Max McCoy, wrote a column that read: “I might get fired if I write this.” — before learning this would be his last year teaching at school.

“This is a purge,” he said. He said all dismissed professors were “Democrats or liberals in our opinion.”

University spokesperson Gwen Larson said individual professors were not subject to dismissal. She said the cuts follow a review of how demand for academic programs is changing and “where we need to move in the future.”

Attacks on higher education are being fueled by a change in how conservatives view universities, said Jeremy Young of the free expression group PEN America. A Pew Research Center poll found that the percentage of Republicans and independent Republicans who said higher education was having a negative impact on the country rose from 37% in 2015 to 59% in 2019. increased to %.

In Texas, university administrators are behind the scenes trying to quash a prospective law targeting tenure, fearing it will hurt hiring, says Jeff, president of the AAUP’s Texas conference. Blodgett said.

Some have already stopped applying for college jobs because of the controversy, according to Pat Heintzelman, president of the Texas Teachers Association.

In Florida, in November, a federal judge “Stop-WOKE” act, a law promoted by Gov. Ron DeSantis restricting certain race-based conversations and analysis in colleges. The governor’s office is appealing the injunction. Compliance with the law will be part of the criteria for evaluating tenured professors under a review process considered by the university system’s board of directors.

“They cling to an idea that many totalitarian regimes have been doing for years: if students can stop learning about ideas that the parties in power disagree with, That’s one way to stop those ideas from existing in society, said Andrew Gossard, president of the United Faculty of Florida.

But DeSantis questions the claim that tenure offers academic freedom.

“If anything, it creates an intellectual legitimacy that makes it harder for people with dissenting opinions to hold office in the first place,” he said at a press conference in April.

In Louisiana, legislators set up a special commission to study tenure, and under a Republican-backed resolution, students must be free of “political, ideological, religious, or anti-religious doctrines” in their courses. He said he should be convinced that Professors expressed concern until they learned that most of the task force members were supporters of tenure.

In Georgia, the state board of trustees Approved A policy that facilitates the dismissal of tenured faculty members who receive negative performance reviews. Elsewhere, Iowa, South Carolina, and Mississippi have also introduced laws prohibiting or limiting tenure in recent years, but have failed to pass.

This backlash follows decades of declining tenured faculty rates. According to the AAUP, in the fall of 2020, her 24% of faculty members were appointed to full-time tenured positions, compared with 39% of him in the fall of 1987.

Part-time university lecturers rarely receive benefits. They have to move frequently from campus to campus to earn a living.

“This is a nightmare,” said Caprice Lawless, who wrote The Auxiliary Cookbook.

“I’ve taken PhDs to food banks and seen them cry because they can’t get enough food for their families,” Lawless said. Lawless said he worked as a sort of social worker until he retired from his college two years before he left the front range. She lives in Westminster, Colorado.

Opposition to tenure has united conservatives for a variety of reasons.

“But if you attack the ‘awakening’ of higher education and it leads to less funding for higher education, economic conservatives will be happy,” he said.

Sol Gittleman, a former president of Tufts University who wrote on the issue, said tenure exploded when employment was boosted after World War II, as the GI bill caused enrollment to skyrocket. Recently, the country has overproduced PhDs, says Gittleman, who predicts that tenure outside of the top 100 colleges and universities will almost disappear in the next few decades.

“Critical race theory — it’s an excuse,” he said. “If you don’t have enough teachers, you won’t hear it.”


Associated Press writers Paul Webber of Austin, Texas and Anthony Izaguirre of Tallahassee, Fla. contributed to this report. The Associated Press education team is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. AP is solely responsible for all content.