Ryan and I talk (and write) all the time about the sorry state of education in America, and I second his take on the idiocy of the “tenured radicals” narrative constantly being pushed by alleged conservatives. Are there some bad professors? Yes. Are there some bad leftist professors? Absolutely. Are there some who get protected by tenure? Yes.
Now, the movement conservative response to this is to eliminate job security for professors altogether, and nothing encapsulates this moronic position better than the yet-to-be-built Florida Polytechnic University. Check out this gem of a quote from the school’s vice president of academic affairs:
“We want to be a leading university, and we wanted to attract faculty who think out of the box, and who are ambitious and creative,” said Ghazi Darkazalli…. “We don’t want them to be worrying within the first five or six years whether they’re going to be tenured or not.”
As the always interesting (and classical conservative) Alan Jacobs remarks:
“Right! They’ll only have to worry about whether they’ll be rehired at the end of their contract or not. Totally different.”
Having universities staffed by rotating casts of grad students and adjuncts is the ultimate technocratic fantasy. If Florida Governor Rick Scott actually cared at all about giving students a quality undergraduate education, he’d develop a specific tenure/job security system that rewarded excellence in teaching and publishing things that people might read (like a sweet blog, for instance). The falseness of modern movement conservatism really shines through though when you realize that “reformers” like Scott don’t even think about the importance of universities having stable faculties or institutional memories. They just want to create degree mills that give people the “skills” to “win the future” (I cringe when Obama says things like this. He knows better.)
If you want to get really depressed about this subject, I invite you to watch the following video. The world of F(P)U is already here to a certain extent, and people like Rick Scott are winning in their fight against the “tenured radicals.” And we’ll all end up poorer and dumber for it.