Inside Higher Ed
June 5th, 2015
What happens in Wisconsin will not stay in Wisconsin. Lawmakers here
are moving quickly to hollow out the definition of tenure and strip away
due process rights for faculty members and academic staff. For
legislators in other states who want to dismantle public higher
education, they might look here to find new plays for their playbooks.
It is not uncommon for legislators to threaten tenure or criticize
public education -- many do it for sport. But what’s unique in Wisconsin
is that the proposed tenure changes are not coming from a fringe
coalition: they are coming from the Joint Finance Committee, the most
powerful body in the Legislature.
I am a tenure-track faculty member in the School of Education at the
University of Wisconsin at Madison and have been in the state for only
two years. I have a lot to learn and am naively optimistic that cooler
heads will prevail and the tenure threats will wash over in time. But I
cannot bring myself to a place of comfort; I am truly worried. And I am
not just worried for Wisconsin, but for other states that will follow
suit if this change actually happens.