TCCTA Blog: Tenure in Kansas …and Elsewhere

Sharing this complete blog post on tenure. Speaking of, now that we have new faculty evaluation instrument, will our Board of Trustees finally restore tenure for new hires?


Tenure in Kansas …and Elsewhere

Posted: 10 Feb 2016 11:14 AM PST

The Kansas Legislature is considering a bill that would eliminate its administrative due process regimen for dismissing two-year college faculty, even if instructors have been employed for many years and possess so-called “continuing” contracts. Some media reports claim the lawmakers simply intend to abolish tenure.

In a controversial move two years ago, the same legislature repealed the due process system for K-12 teachers, but it was retained for community and technical colleges, according to an article by Edward M. Eveld, in the Kansas City Star.

There is no mention in the article of tenure at universities, which presumably would be unaffected by the proposed law.

Basically the legislation would allow institutional discretion in the dismissal of faculty members. If so it might resemble policies already in place at Texas community colleges, where there is presently a great deal of variety.

Some instructors here are awarded annual contracts, with no assurance (absent pertinent precedents regarding a “reasonable” expectation of being rehired, race, gender, etc.) of job security. Some colleges grant actual tenure for faculty, earned during a stipulated period, like practices at universities. A more common approach is the “rolling” contract, which gives teachers an extended time window to make corrections or pursue any appeals under due process.

So it’s complicated, dependent upon statutory and case law at the state and national level, in addition to local policies and procedures. You can get an earful from TCCTA attorneys at one of the association’s events.

But this much is clear. As job security, pensions, and other perquisites in the private sector have become casualties in the global economy, tenure (or something like it) has become a political target—pegged as a relic that has outlived its usefulness.

Please read the KCS article for choice quotes representing both sides of this issue.

Also not mentioned in the piece—right under our noses—is the elephant in the room: adjunct faculty. With the majority of classes at many schools taught by part-timers with virtually no job security, it becomes increasingly difficult to defend anything resembling tenure for full-timers. In fact, some colleges have devised a new hybrid category of instructor, with additional teaching responsibilities, but no pesky due process concerns.

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