Why should college and university professors have job security, when so many other Americans are losing theirs? From U.S. News & World Report to the Los Angeles Times to the Washington Post, powerful voices are asking that question, and answering that tenure in academia has become obsolete. The academy, they argue, should submit to the logic of the market: because university managers need flexibility, because more cost-effective ways must be found to deliver educational resources (like replacing senior professors with new people who will work for less). Academic freedom—the justification for the tenure system—is not part of this reasoning.
Since there are black pundits who oppose civil rights and women who denounce feminism, it was inevitable that there would be a tenured professor who’s against tenure. Richard P. Chait, who has tenure at Harvard (in the School of Education) is that professor. He’s been quoted all over the place during the las...
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