MADISON — Four years after taking union rights away from teachers and other public workers in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker now wants to strip job protections for University of Wisconsin professors in a move he likens to the 2011 law that made him a national figure and set up his expected presidential run.

Eliminating tenure in state law, as Walker proposed in January and a Republican-controlled legislative committee approved earlier this month, is part of a larger overhaul of higher education policy that he is talking about to Republican voters around the country.

Walker and Republican backers defend his higher education proposal as empowering university leaders to be more like a business and nimble in how they govern. University professors and their supporters, both in Wisconsin and nationally, are raising alarms that it’s an attack on academic freedom that could gain momentum in other states.

“Within the higher ed universe, this is being seen as an extremely consequential, signal event,” said Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

A companion effort would take from professors and staff certain decision-making powers about campus issues including curriculum, research and faculty status. Combined with ending tenure in state law, the higher education proposal would be the first of its kind in the country, Nassirian said.

“Obviously the faculty are opposed, but there are plenty of folks who look at it and believe this, in fact, is the future,” Nassirian said, citing the increasing pressure on universities to be more efficient in light of escalating tuition costs. “And it may be.”

Wisconsin faculty members are sounding alarms that the changes will lead to a flood of departures for universities with stronger tenure. A petition signed by more than 450 of the university’s award-winning researchers asked lawmakers to reconsider.

More than a dozen faculty members came to a Board of Regents meeting with tape over their mouths, holding signs of protest. That’s a far cry from the 2011 protests at the state Capitol that grew to as many as 100,000 people when Walker went after public workers’ union protections.

Still, Walker openly makes comparisons. This is “Act 10 for the university,” he says, invoking the title of the union law.

Opponents say protests could grow, and extend beyond Wisconsin. Henry Reichman, vice president of the American Association of University Professors and chairman of its committee on academic freedom and tenure, said the proposed changes in Wisconsin could embolden faculty both there and around the country to become more organized as Walker mounts his expected run for the Republican nomination.

“One message to higher ed would be you really don’t want to support Scott Walker for president because if he can do it in Wisconsin, he will do it everywhere,” Reichman said.

Walker, who attended Marquette University but did not graduate, initially proposed cutting the university’s state aid by 13 percent, or $300 million. Budget writers in the Legislature have reduced the proposed cut to $250 million, while still voting to eliminate tenure in state law, leaving it up to the university’s regents to set a policy as is done in every other state.

But the Legislature’s budget committee went even further, proposing to change the law to make it easier to fire those with tenure. Now, tenured faculty members can only be fired for just cause or if there’s a financial emergency. Under the new provisions, the administration could fire them “when such an action is deemed necessary due to a budget or program decision requiring program discontinuance, curtailment, modification or redirection.”

The Legislature is expected to vote on the proposals this month or next, when passing a state budget. Walker has been campaigning for the GOP nomination for months, in all but name, but says he won’t announce his decision until the budget is passed.

In taking tenure out of state law, the legislation would let the Board of Regents set its own policy on that matter. But with 16 of the 18 regents appointed by the governor, taken together with the broader authority under state law to fire faculty, opponents of the move say the resulting policy is bound to be feckless.

“Tenure will be gone as we know it and I think it’s a step backward for our relationship with faculty members,” said Tony Evers, who serves on the Board of Regents in his capacity as state superintendent. Evers fought against Walker’s union restrictions against teachers and other public workers four years ago and signed the petition that led to the 2012 statewide vote over recalling Walker from office. Walker won that vote.

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(58) comments

Snow Cougar Mary Burke


What 'Governor of the Year' Scott Walker wants is to put chancellors in the University of Wisconsin System in the best position to succeed as effective CEO's of their campus – to ultimately be responsible for making the decisions.

It's about giving chancellors more power to demand high performance from their faculty that benefits students. It's about job performance and ensuring students get a good education. The tenured professors will now have to be responsive to the chancellor and students. Why is that such a bad thing?

Chancellors ultimately should have authority to manage employees as they see fit. They should be allowed to make the final call in curriculum decisions they see as best for their institutions – if a department has only a few students in a major, the chancellor should have authority to drop the major and downsize faculty in that area. They should also be able to cut tenured staff during potential budget crisis issues.

As for the fear mongering about academic freedom, it will still be protected in a new UW System Board of Regents policy when tenure is removed from state law.

Everything else - the outrage from faculty, the concern about losing top educators and researchers - is a lot of hysteria over something that's being sensationalized by the Walker hater's for political effect.

In the end, it is for the benefit of our children.

Hammsbone

All people should get some tenure in their jobs, I mean why discriminate.

heyheyletsgo

I am amazed at the salaries that some commenters here - as well as other folks I meet - believe college professors earn.

True, there are some highly paid individuals in higher ed. They are mainly administrators (40+ hour workweek, not a teaching job), researchers working on grants (external grants from private organizations or federal funding) and business school professors.

As for other full-time professors? Try a starting salary in the low to mid $40s, with pay bumps up to $60K, mid-career, if you're lucky. Teaching (grading, class preparation, meeting with students) is less than half of the required work load...it ain't high school. These people are basically spending twice as much time in school to earn half as much money and work just as much, compared to other professional jobs.

This suggests that becoming a college professor is the dumbest idea ever. Job security and academic freedom are the extra prizes that make it anything other than a stupid career move.

2dogs

Who cares?

Clarification

"Any legitimate school would not fire a teacher for unorthodox teaching or lines of research." Some people are really trusting souls! Any legitimate senator would never hunt out communists in the media and destroy careers...except that one in the 50's in Wisconsin! It just takes one loudmouth in the school system...

new2Lax

It is hard to understand but isn't that what Scott Walker did, tried something new and unpopular. Why would you want to recall him for using a system that you actually believe in. They continue to say, that's what tenure protects. Why did Walker have to go through a recall. If Walker had tenure he would not have had to put up with the recall. I guess tenure is only a good idea if it fits into the liberal mindset. On one hand these liberals are ok with these unpopular ideas but only if it is their idea. That does not sound like Democracy or fairness to me. Well when you think about it, they kept him in office so maybe they thought long and hard about it and maybe it was an ok idea after all. It appears these unpopular views are maybe not such a good idea for Republicans only.

theluckiest

^^I'm with stupid.^^

oldhomey

new2, is there some sort of "stupidest blogger" that you are competing for? I could well imagine Walker becoming president, under your scenario, and then unilaterally declaring the nullification of free speech, explaining, "I invoked my right of free speech to say that I am nullifying it. Now there is no free speech, so I will brook no complaints. Just move along, there is no crime, nothing to see here."

acelady

Look at the bigger picture. GOP/Wallstreet cronies want to dumb down citizens. Globe U degrees do not get the larger $ or even a job. Wallstreet does not want to pay wages above Vietnam. No GOOD Degrees = low wages. Than even the "educated" will not get higher incomes.

Monteee

Perhaps an all-out strike by all university professors and K-12 teachers will get Scooter's attention. He has declared war on Wisconsin's teachers, so a counterstrike is what he should get.

Mr Wizard

Go for it! That's the easiest way to replace them.

Mr Wizard

I love the sound of squealing schoolteachers! It's fun to watch you people reveal who you really are, what with pretending it's all about the kids and all. Keep talking, and everyone will know you are nothing but a bunch of self-serving featherbedders who care about nothing but yourselves and your influence.

Monteee

"Walker and Republican backers defend his higher education proposal as empowering university leaders to be more like a business and nimble in how they govern."


More like a business? This is precisely why we should oppose this legislation with every bit of strength in our bodies.

consider

I have spent my career in higher education. I also have children who attend public schools. The quality of their education will be lowered as more teachers take other options and leave K-12 education. New teachers need years of experience typically before they have the impact that experienced teachers and since Act 10 I know many teachers who are planning to leave as soon as they can. Walker is even lowering qualifications for new teachers. I teach in the Wisconsin University System and I am sadly looking at Minnesota universities for my children. I fear our state schools will not be as strong soon. I will no longer actively recruit candidates to work in the Wisconsin University System. Many of my colleges are looking at options for leaving and I think that is wise. Sadly, our students, including my children, will suffer by Walkers attack on education. The GOP has sold our state to the highest bidders and they do not want an educated public.

takka

Hey Ronnie S. I bet that the number of people supporting Scooter is dwindling. I sure hope that Scooter gets Republican nod and then he resigns his Governor's chair. Then Hillary beats him 53-47. Then we will be rid of the worst Governor in Wisconsin history. Ronnie S, can you honestly see Scooter running the show in this country?? This is a very scary idea.

RonnieS

Takka, I don't know if I want Walker to be President, I'll consider that when the election comes, but that's not what the article is about. I simply made a point that a majority (albeit a slight majority) of Wisconsinites proved three times that union power is not imporant to them and the same is true for these few educators worried about their tenure. I don't want professors who worry about tenure, I want teachers that are worried about teaching and doing it well.
When the mud starts flying and corruption allegations arise Hillary won't come out any cleaner than Walker. No one gets to the top without a lot of dirty money backing them one way or another. Just being realistic.

BudandDot

The problem with walker, is that hes slowly and methodically destroying the middle class workers. Take out the unions, take out teachers, take out collective bargaining, take out workers rights. Add in the idiolism and political purchase power for multimillionaire businessmen, and once all the defenses and laws that decades of fighting and solidarity gave the working class, the american dream will be over. Stuck working for minimum wage and struggling to make ends meet. They have all of us fighting each other over union/non union, teachers/non teachers and in the meantime, these multimillionaires are gouging the common man by dodging their tax burdons and putting it on our backs. And the republican voters are eating the cake and voting them in. Just amazing how many multimillionaires we have commenting on this tribune site. Open your eyes to what the republicans are doing and fight for class equality.

choker

Republicans are setting up a tenure system of their own in Wisconsin.Gerrymander districts,reduce voters and do what ever they can to tilt the playing field in their favor so they can continue to win elections.

Buggs Raplin

Will this affect the massage therapy program at Globe University?

superman

Did you hear that Globe is going bankrupt?

Buggs Raplin

Good, if that's true.

oldhomey

Globe University and other for-profit colleges are criminal enterprises and should be treated as such.

Clarification

Yourewrong, I'd rather have a few slackers than profs who have to be careful what they think and teach. Cassandra nailed it, "Tenure is designed to protect researchers and educators who might have unorthodox or unpopular views. It guarantees that they can pursue a line of research without fear they will be terminated. " All this talk about lazy teachers is right up there with the lies about food stamps and welfare queens.

RonnieS

So you're fine with a "few slackers" collecting paychecks and benfits for 25+ years? Rough estimate over time, about $2million per slacker. There's a great use of state dollars!
Any legitimate school would not fire a teacher for unorthodox teaching or lines of research. If they would why would the teacher or their students even want to be there?

This isn't the 1400's where the King is burning people at the stake for trying to prove the world isn't flat.

David Jarzemski

This is another hit piece on Walker.

For all you out there who don't know it, Wisconsin is the only state that college teacher's tenure is codified into state law. Once it is no longer in state law, Wisconsin will be like the other 49. So there will be no disadvantage here for retaining college professors.

Oh, the Board of Regents has already signalled tenure will be there for college professors.

Case Closed on all those screaming bloody murder. Time to take a sedative, Walker haters.

CJ

Any current or retired Federal workers here? If there are many can vouch in that area that what some would consider "bad" employees are simply moved from section to section if they can't perform instead of simply being fired. One has to believe tenure offers the same protection.

oldhomey

So you offer to us, CJ, the knowledge that you apparently heard about how bad federal employees are never fired, as you are begging here for somebody who would actually know to back up your supposition. Then, not really knowing what tenure and its function is in higher education, you tell us "one has to believe" that it is just like your supposition of how the federal government handles its underperforming employees. You certainly are a sharpie, aren't you? I am certain all of the rest of us will keep our eye out for further nuggets of wisdom from you.

JimB

"Howdy Doody" is not smart enough to understand that he is destroying the education system. e is just following orders from his backers who do not want an educated public lest they understand how they are being used to continue "the rich getting richer" while the poor pay the price.. He , himself is being played for the fool.

new2Lax

Tenure must be eliminated in all states to make everything equal, that's the liberal mindset. No need for a professor to play one school against the other. Everyone knew NAFTA would suck jobs out of the country and reduce US wages. Ross Perrot campaign fought against it, tooth and nail. Passed by Bill Clinton anyway. Obama wants to do the same thing and will. Nothing being said about the Republicans who are cooperating with Obama on his legislation. See how Republicans can work with this administration. I guess the left finally can say Republicans are not obstructionists. We can not compete globally with other countries in the trade agreement arena. Wages went down during the NAFTA fiasco and it will happen again and why not, companies will go to wherever they can be competitive. It's called, business. If these trade agreements are doing what the unions say they do, why to Democrats support losing jobs and cutting wages.

oldhomey

new2, the more you post, the less sense you make. This posting is impossible to decipher for meaning. Had you paid attention in school, you would have learned how to communicate effectively. You apparently failed those classes, as you fail here.

Cassandra

Tenure is designed to protect researchers and educators who might have unorthodox or unpopular views. It guarantees that they can pursue a line of research without fear they will be terminated. Take a look at how Walker and the republicans fire people they disagree with or simply dismantle entire government agencies because they don't fit into the republican agenda. THAT is what will happen to research and education without tenure rules in place. Without the unfettered ability to follow a line of research the entire notion of the "academy" crumbles.

RonnieS

These educators are just another small minority (like the unions were) that don't want to have to be held to the same standards as the rest of us who work in this state. None of our jobs are gauranteed, we have to come to work every day and perform well to prove we deserve our paychecks.
Takka summed it it all up in his/her post. The people of Wisconsin elected Walker three times! How many times does it take to prove that a MAJORITY of the state backs Walker?

BudandDot

When will all these crybaby educators learn that once they start teaching the Koch brothers educational system, the sooner this country can advance Der Fuhrers agenda? You vill learn vat ve teach you.

takka

How dumb are the voters of Wisconsin to elect Walker on three occasions? Can you seriously see Scooter as POTUS?? This is a scary thought.

senior

No One should have Tenure. College Tenure has provided secure employment for Many Bad professors and the teaching they do. I am so glad it is being addressed. Private is fine and up to the students/parents but State, absolutely Not.

Clarification

College tenure has provided secure employment for many GOOD professors and the teaching they do.

new2Lax

They actually teach 15hrs per week on average. Work 30 weeks per yr. 88,000 to 120,000 per year not counting another 30,000 in benefits. and yes it provides a secure employment for good and bad professors. Not a bad gig. I wouldn't want it changed either, would you. I think not.

theluckiest

Do you think that they might have other responsibilities besides teaching like, say, research, meeting with students, grading papers, prepping for what they are going to teach...it's apparent that you think they walk in and read from a script and walk out, never having to do anything else in order to teach. It's also very clear that you have never worked in education. Anyone who has knows that the BS you are posting on here is just that.

jharrimjr

new2CorporateWelfare's Retirement in LaX, you don't know a thing about what a professor does. No wonder you spent 40 years in service to Corporate Greed and worshipping God the Almighty Dollar. Fortunately, there are plenty of people who will rebuff yours and the Koch's takeover of America: it's schools, its workforce, its twisted aggressive version of US foreign policy.

Clarification

I love how those who are knee-jerk against those professors with tenure often have spelling and capitalization errors in their posts indicating to me they didn't value being in school much.

theluckiest

My thought exactly, Clarification! They don't need no fancy book learnin', by golly! SMH.

Comment deleted.
america as founded

Spewing the typical liberal talking points. Continue to enjoy the liberal-progressive Kool-Aid while dreaming of your socialist utopia.

Clarification

yourwrong wrote, "Tenure for any teachers is one of the most dangerous things there is.."
Actually, a system that prevents a teacher from expressing a variety of ideas for fear that someone further up may be offended ("That there is social-ism, dangit!"), and they risk losing their job is the real danger. Using the vague idea the some prof may get lazy is a silly diversion for the gullible, non-thinkers and Walker supporters. Wisconsin should be applauded for having it a law.

yourewrong

If you would've read the article I posted, maybe we wouldn't be having this discussion. No teachers are being fired because their ideas are different, that's some made up bullsh!t that people like to point out when tenure is trying to be defended. New York City pays over $65 million a year to teachers who have tenure and therefore can't be fired, but are not allowed in the classroom due to infractions. They literally just sit in a room for 8 hours a day and collect their $70,000+ salaries.

theluckiest

Anecdotal little stories like this make me chuckle. Yourewrong chooses some tidbit to pounce on in order to declare that the entire system must be discarded because of (fill in the blank). I don't give a flying puck what is happening in NYC. I also don't make knee-jerk decisions that affect our entire university system based on those little tidbits, which most likely don't have a grain of truth to them and, even if they do, they are .0000000001% of all university professors.

yourewrong

I like how she stuck this in there:

"while still voting to eliminate tenure in state law, leaving it up to the university’s regents to set a policy as is done in every other state."

Nothing like burying the actual story. It sounds like there is 1 state that has tenure as a state law, and 49 that leave tenure decisions up to the university and the 1 state is trying to change that and it gets misconstrued.

Tenure for any teachers is one of the most dangerous things there is. There are examples all over the country of teachers that get complacent after they receive tenure. It makes it almost impossible to fire a teacher not living up to standards. Take a look at this article and tell me this isnt a waste of money:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/22/new-york-teachers-paid-to_n_219336.html

While there needs to be a change to the way tenure is handled at all academic institutions, it needs to be a nationwide change and not just a Wisconsin change.

superman

"Tenure for any teachers is one of the most dangerous things there is."

That is the dumbest statement I have read all week.

theluckiest

Amen, Superman. Amen to that.

MELLO

You sound like you could not make A go at being educated and blaming it on the teachers..

RINO Cowboy

Higher education is not "like a business" and shouldnt be treated as such. There is a REASON for academic tenure in the university. Perhaps if Walker had actually gotten an education before he became a college dropout he would understand this. Now this fool wants to campaign nationally on what he did to scruw Wisconsin.

america as founded

Higher education is not "like a business" You are right. Business has to produce results or they go away. No results necessary in higher education. Just consume vast amounts of taxpayer's money to indoctrinate young people to be good little socialist. Tens of thousands of people in debt for obtaining degrees that are meaningless towards earning a living in the real world. Your "I'm better than you attitude" because someone doesn't have a degree speaks volumes about you. There are multitudes of very successful people making a real contribution to society that didn't finish college and earn a degree.

lookout

America as founded The reason those degree's are becoming no good is because of corporations ship thousand and thousands of jobs out of the country because we have a free trade act. For NAFTA's unhappy 20th anniversary, Public Citizen has published a report that details the wreckage. Not only did promises made by NAFTA's proponents not materialize, but many results are exactly the opposite.

Such outcomes include a staggering $181 billion U.S. trade deficit with NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada and the related loss of 1 million net U.S. jobs under NAFTA, growing income inequality, displacement of more than one million Mexican campesino farmers and a doubling of desperate immigration from Mexico, and more than $360 million paid to corporations after "investor-state" tribunal attacks on, and rollbacks of, domestic public interest policies.

The study makes for a blood-boiling read. For instance, we track the specific promises made by U.S. corporations like GE, Chrysler and Caterpillar to create specific numbers of American jobs if NAFTA was approved, and reveal government data showing that instead, they fired U.S. workers and moved operations to Mexico.

The data also show how post-NAFTA trade and investment trends have contributed to middle-class pay cuts, which in turn contributed to growing income inequality; how since NAFTA, U.S. trade deficit growth with Mexico and Canada has been 45 percent higher than with countries not party to a U.S. Free Trade Agreement, and how U.S. manufacturing exports to Canada and Mexico have grown at less than half the pre-NAFTA rate.

theluckiest

Spoken like someone who hasn't a clue what is actually taught in college. If you had a clue, you'd know that you are lying, aaf. So are you a liar, or are you uneducated, or are you both?

new2Lax

That's the problem.

Condor Kid

Walker hates educators. I don't understand how he can get away with running a full-time Presidential campaign without telling us that's what he's doing and while receiving his paycheck for being governor? It should be criminal. Such brash moonlighting would get most of us fired at least. Walker is not qualified to be a governor or president.

CJ

I'm sure many in Illinois thought the same of Obama at one time.......don't worry though Walker will be back soon as he will not be the nominee.

senior

Candor, the same goes for the President, he is community organizing while President.

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