Changing Attitudes Toward and Approaches to Tenure and the Emergence of Post Tenure Review Models Thesis

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Changing Attitudes Toward and Approaches to Tenure

and the Emergence of Post-Tenure Review Models

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The institution of tenure is designed to protect teachers against the various pitfalls of the educational profession, including political pressures, district resource shortfall and the host of other conditions which can threaten the stability of a teaching job. The acquisition of tenure for an individual instructor can provide an assurance of job security, a freedom to act according to more individualized educational premises and the opportunity to project long-term plans and expectations within the confines of the position. On the other hand, tenure also frequently acts to insulate veteran instructors from criticism, to protect them from accountability and to allow academic shortcomings or behavioral divergences to go unchecked. These conditions produce the difficulty encountered in this discussion, which addresses the pressing questions currently engaged by administrators over how best to approach perceived failures in this system. One of the popularly adopted but frequently criticized approaches to contending with this issue has been through the post-tenure review. This model holds the teacher up to a microscope even following the achievement of tenure with the expectation of assessing the qualifications and suitability of the teacher in question. However, this approach has also been regarded by many teachers in particular as a negative development which robs educational professionals of the security implied by tenure while simultaneously forcing teachers to appeal to specific expectations while pursuing professional goals. This can mean a detraction from curricular focus and can bear a stultifying effect on the creativity, energy and individuality which the teacher brings to the job.

Thesis on Changing Attitudes Toward and Approaches to Tenure and the Emergence of Post Tenure Review Models Assignment

The difficulty in resolving this issue of post-tenure review underscores the research endeavor hereafter, which is primarily concerned with the positive implications that this might bear on the effectiveness, accountability and consistency of educators as well as the negative implications which this could bear on job security, educational freedom and academic integrity. The literature review and discussion hereafter will touch on various related issues while attempting to resolve this ongoing debate with balance and sensibility.

Purpose of Research:

The concept of post-tenure review has become increasingly popular and, in the last decade, has also achieved widespread adoption. This is true in spite of the fact that teacher communities and educational researcher have by and large rejected the presumed value of associating performance review and penalty with the security implied by tenure. Therefore, the research here is intended to explicate in greater detail the position held by professors and educational researchers as it tends to generally discount the perceived value in post-tenure review. This purpose will be attended by various related discussions, particularly concerning the implications of tenure itself, the various institutional issues which have prompted the response suggested in post-tenure review and the counterpoint offered to the strenuous objection voiced by instructors. This discussion should produce recommendations for improvement in an area which most evidence will suggest is sorely in need of such.


There is a great deal of available literature on this subject, and much of it drawn from the universities themselves which are currently grappling with the issue. Therefore, the study here will be based on a review of available literature designed to illuminate and support the argument that post-tenure review is inherently destructive and that, furthermore, tenure is already a process which inherently holds professors and educators up to academic scrutiny. Therefore, the gathered literature will be selected with the intent to take on the rationale and imperatives which have allowed for the adoption of an inappropriately suited policy.

Literature Review:

Post-tenure review is a deeply controversial topic, particularly where teachers and educators are concerned. The bulk of literature on the subject denotes that while there has been a legitimate imperative to move toward some system which provides both accountability and improvement where tenured teachers are concerned, there also are a great many reasons to view the post-tenure review process with skepticism and, on the part of many teachers, hostility. This discussion points significantly to these sentiments amongst educators, teachers unions and various educational support groups, which collectively perceive post-tenure review as a direct threat to those things which tenure was designed to protect.

This is a perspective which is well-captured in the exhaustive discussion provided by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) (1999). Here, the largely negative light in which post-tenure review is cast tends to resonate with most educators and teachers. The AAUP contends that there are inherent misnomers which apply to post-tenure review and which render it a dubious process. Particular among them, the AAUP indicates that "lurking within the phrase are often two misconceptions: that tenured faculty are not already recurrently subject to a variety of forms of evaluation of their work, and that the presumption of merit that attaches to tenure should be periodically cast aside so that the faculty member must bear the burden of justifying retention." (AAUP 1999; 1) This is an aspect of the discussion to which we will return hereafter as it captures one of the core issues impacting perceptions and approaches taken to the review. Namely, there is a semantic importance to the manner in which language is used and discussion is shaped as we attempt to more fully understand that which teachers feel is at stake for them. This is to say that because most universities and school districts already provide some sort of performance review through which different incentives are at stake, the creation of more streamlined standards for post-tenure review suggests a higher level of oversight, micromanagement and evaluative scrutiny that lends to the impression of the administration's low confidence in teacher abilities. Moreover and most importantly, the explicit association made between the review and the concept of tenure suggests a connectivity between the consequences of the review and the security which the veteran teacher has essentially earned.

To reinforce this point-of-view, the AAUP also published within the context of this article a reflection on the original post-tenure perspective which it had authored in 1983. Here, there is a clear and aggressive set of objections raised which as a first point of order indicates that effective measures for review already exited which neither required nor justified the intensification of penalty to the extent of threatening tenure security. According to its own published account, "the Association believes that periodic formal institutional evaluation of each postprobationary faculty member would bring scant benefit, would incur unacceptable costs, not only in money and time but also in dampening of creativity and of collegial relationships, and would threaten academic freedom." (AAUP 1999; 1) Almost three decades hence, this remains very much the consensus from within the teaching community, where years of policy change have imposed even greater standardization and curricular streamlining upon educators and institutions by affiliating these with public financial incentives, the establishment of any condition threatening the security of teachers would be a great threat to professional excellence, personal dedication and institutional quality.

In spite of this fact, all indications are that the curricular streamlining of the last decade has coalesced with the administrative treatment of teachers. The politicized call for more aggressive post-tenure review policies has taken hold for the larger part throughout the educational community. And in spite of protests and the construction of compelling arguments to dispel its perceived value, post-tenure review is currently on the uptake. Indeed, according to Euben (2005), this is an increasingly common approach to evaluation and accountability where veteran educators are concerned. The Euben article denotes that "post-tenure-review policies are on the increase. By 2000, thirty-seven states had established some form of post-tenure review. Tenured faculty generally have not fared well in the few court challenges to post-tenure-review policies." (Euben 2000; p. 1) This is troubling as it compounds the fear on the part of educators that there may be no recourse to the dismissal of their security. Where tenure is explicitly undermined by the review process and where there yet exists little hope of mounting a successful legal challenge against the implications of a negative review, it is clear that those confidences earned by tenure are inherently diminished or dismissed. Today, this push continues in full throttle against the impulses of teachers and the arguments of educational researchers who perceive this is an obstacle to instructional effectiveness.

In addition to the negative impact which it is likely to have on the psyche and security of teachers, the streamlining of post-tenure review in higher education institutions also seems ill-suited and arbitrarily selected as a way to address institutional shortcomings and disappointments in the experience of the student. Indeed, Allen (2000) notes that "despite attempts by some critics of higher education to use tenure as a scapegoat for a plethora of institutional shortcomings, there is no persuasive evidence that tenured faculty aren't doing their jobs." (Allen 2000; p. 95) Rather, there is cause to argue that administrators have simply found in teachers the most immediate point of action where lagging student performances, shortfalls amongst schools in achieving academic aims and a rising… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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