Education: Troubled Times for Tenure

Courts, states and universities question an entrenched institution

Should a university have the right to get rid of a "grossly incompetent" teacher? Should a professor whose classroom performance does students a "disservice" be sent packing? Outside the ivory tower, few people would say no. But when the University of California, Berkeley, last year became the first school to draft rules for firing tenured teachers, some charged that this amounted to an assault on their intellectual freedom. "You'll never go broke overestimating how sensitive the tenure issue is to faculty," says Richard Chait, director of the National Center for Post-Secondary Governance and Finance at the University of Maryland. "It's like...

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