Category Archives: tenure

November 13, 2008, 4:03 pm

Tenure, Tee-shirts and Triangulation: School Reform In The News

Michelle Rhee, the superintendent of schools in the District of Columbia, is moving to abolish tenure for teachers. Because tenure is the third rail of public education, she claims she isn’t. But she is. Rhee is in charge of one of the most troubled systems in the country — or perhaps just the most visibly troubled, since the collapse of public schools in the nation’s capital are a particularly vivid barometer of the terrible state of urban public education more generally. Her current plan is to reduce the number of tenured teachers in the system by offering salary incentives for teachers to give up their tenure and simply teach well.

Rhee’s approach to change doesn’t help sell what is actually a sensible plan: if you have followed her career, you know that she reacts to dissent in the ranks with the polish of your average despot. Her rock ‘em, sock ‘em administrative style makes …

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April 13, 2008, 1:14 pm

Congratulations Brian Donovan

Since the Radical is now associated in the public mind with all things tenure, I noted with pleasure last week that The Chronicle of Higher Education had linked me with this YouTube video, which is one of the most perfect visual conceits I have ever seen.

Now, I ask you — how funny is this? Very funny. It also makes me jealous that he knows how to make a video like this and I don’t. Finally, it reminds me that one of the things I love about being an academic is the wit and the high jinks. Other than professional comedians, the only group of people who are funnier are people who work in advertising.

So just in case you think the Radical has fallen into the trap common to radicals everywhere — in other words, taking her political positions so seriously that she loses her sense of fun (North Korea is a good example of this error, as was the second incarnation of the radical…

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March 19, 2008, 7:13 pm

Department of Odd Coincidences

So after yesterday’s post condemning tenure (again) I get back to work on the talk I am supposed to give on pornography (again) and I drift off onto the internet (again), clicking around to the sites listed on my sitemeter from whence people arrived at Tenured Radical. Eventually, I come up with a story from the Chronicle of Higher Education about:

Pornography and Tenure.

Go ahead. Make my day!

To make a long story short, a married couple out at New Mexico State University was just denied tenure, and they are charging racial bias. What they also reveal, however, was that shortly before they were denied tenure, John — the husband part of the married couple — received an e-mail from an associate dean that contained a “graphic sexual image.” He complained to the dean; and shortly afterwards, the chair of the couple’s department decided that neither member of the couple should receive…

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July 3, 2007, 1:41 pm

Update: the James Sherley Tenure Case at MIT

You may recall this post that I wrote in February about James Sherley’s tenure case at MIT. Since he ended his twelve day hunger strike in February Sherley, whose research is on adult stem cells, has continued his activism. He has acquired at least one ally, Frank L. Douglas, executive director of the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation, who resigned a few weeks ago to protest MIT’s failure to reconsider the Sherley decision. I believe that Sherley has been on hunger strike at least one other time this year, and he has been holding daily vigils in front of the administration building.

The current struggle, as you can read in a Boston magazine article written by John Wolfson and e-mailed to me by an editor, Jamie Bellevance, is that MIT considers the case closed and wants Sherley to leave the campus. Sherley does not consider the case closed and does not plan to leave campus, at least …

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April 6, 2007, 12:35 am

Zenith Confidential

Well, I have my nerve, don’t I? Spreading Zenith’s secrets all over the internet?

No, no, no. I am not telling more tales today. What I do want to discuss is Confidentiality. This is a talismanic phrase at Zenith, and it is part of what is at stake in unexpected publicity (internal to Zenith) about this blog, publicity that has led to recent reflections, retrenching and readjustment. Central questions have been: Do students in class have the right to think that the classroom is a confidential space, thus allowing them to speak at will without the fear that they might be misperceived? And — my topic today — Are the workings of a university better kept confidential, to the point where critiques of the tenure system immediately create the impression of spilling the beans, regardless of whether specific beans about specific meetings have actually been spilt?

The primal scene looks…

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February 18, 2007, 5:17 pm

Racism and Tenure at MIT

On Friday, James Sherley ended a twelve-day hunger strike intended not, he claims, as an attempt to reverse the negative decision in his tenure case but to highlight racism in personnel decisions at the Massachuestts Institute of Technology. This is what I know:

1. Sherley does stem cell research, but on adult, not embryonic, stem cells. Sherley believes that the latter practice is immoral, since it involves the “killing” of day-old human embryos. I use quotes around “killing” here to give a nod to the idea that not everyone (for example, me) believes that it is unethical to use human embryos in this way. According to my research Sherley believes that he was denied tenure because of public statements he made opposing colleagues’ research on embryonic cells. A white member of the faculty would not have had to pass such an ideological litmus test, he charges, but he has been fired…

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