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The Myth of Teacher Tenure

Posted By: Richard Bishop on August 5, 2014
 
Tenure was relevant at the time when Lords of the Manor were not allowed to pull scribes or researchers from churches. Its relevance in the 21st Century is open to question but is hardly a myth. After spending 40 years in higher education and noting the fear of department heads or administrators to confront or - heaven forbid - fire a tenured academician, I am ashamed of tenure as a modern-day concept.

There are too many teachers - at all levels, I am certain - who define tenure as a time to relax and let the notes yellow. Several full professors at one of the institutions at which I worked renounced tenure in favor of a five year contract that was renewable after 3 1/2 years. It makes much greater sense to me. After all, schools, colleges, and universities are the only institution other than federal judgeships that offer such a wonderful opportunity for lax behavior if the individual so chooses [and too many do just that].

Tenure is no myth. Threats of lawsuits are generally sufficient to ward off most cowardly administrators; that and the public relations nightmare of a lawsuit that might damage the "good name" of an institution are terrifying.

I know of only a single case where the threat caused a buyout. It cost the institution over $280,000 to relieve a tenured academic of the job. That's a remarkable price to pay and later becomes reflected in someone's tuition or fees.

Most of the sources cited in the article are from the early 1900's. I believe that tenure is rather ludicrous in today's world.
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 The Myth of Teacher Tenure by Richard Bishop on August 5, 2014
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