Why Do Bad Teachers Prosper?

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Tenure was formally introduced in the US in 1915 by the American Association of University Professors in their Declaration of Principle on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure.

Tenure provides job security and protects the academic freedom of experienced professors. Firing a tenured professor is almost unheard of.

Tenure exists because people have been killed for their teachings.

Socrates: Athenian philosopher. Lived from 470-399 B.C.

Convicted of heresy for: denying the gods and corrupting the young through his teachings

Put to death by drinking hemlock (poison).

Galileo Galilei: Professor of math and science at the University of Pisa.1589-1610

Contract not renewed due to experiments critical of Aristotle

Later convicted of heresy for claiming the earth revolved around the sun.

John T. Scopes: Tennessee high school substitute teacher from 1924-1925

Indicted for teaching the theory of evolution, illegal under TN State Law [Butler Act]

Found guilty and fined $100.

All state “anti-evolution” laws were overturned 43 years later [in 1968 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Epperson v. Arkansas]

Dr. Nancy Olivieri: renowned academic physician at the University of Toronto 1988-present

Questioned the safety of a drug deferiprone based on clinical trials

Apotex, her corporate sponsor and manufacturer of deferiprone.

defunded her research

threatened legal action

threatened her career

If it’s so important, why has Tenure consistently dropped since 1975?

Tenure from a School’s perspective:

Tenure is Expensive:

Tenured/Tenure Track Professor

Average Salary: $95,224

Non-Tenured Full-Time Professor

Average Salary: $85,973

Part-Time Adjunct

Average Salary: $2,987/class

Tenure Can Cause Controversy

Taking a stance on an unpopular issue equating to bad PR

Becoming lazy, inadequate, inflexible worker

Tenured/Tenure Track Professor

Difficulty to Fire Meter: High

Non-Tenured Full-Time

Difficulty to Fire Meter: Easy

Part-Time Adjunct

Difficulty to Fire Meter: Easy

Tenure doesn’t necessarily mean ‘better teacher’

Some have argued that tenure provides job security and incentive for incompetence.

“Students learn relatively more from non-tenure line professors in their introductory courses” -National Bureau of Economic Research at Northwestern University

In 2005, a study by the Journal of Higher Education found that the more time professors spend in classrooms, the less they get paid.

CTA – What is Academic Freedom worth to you?


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