Uprooting the intellectual cancer

Even Stanley Fish, the leading academic writer at the New York Times, admits that there is a solid case to be made for eliminating academic tenure:

Tenure, like academic freedom, depends on a certain picture of what goes on in college and university classrooms — high-level discussions tied to cutting edge research into intellectual problems. Tenure protects the freedom of instructors to engage in such research. But in many classrooms, dedicated to vocational or corporate or political goals, that’s not what’s going on, and the instructors who preside over those classrooms need neither academic freedom nor tenure. Only those engaged in the “search for ultimate truths” do.

But wait (I mimic the key moment in late-night infomercials), there’s more. So-called “advanced researchers,” who by this argument alone merit academic freedom and tenure, are churning out work with no connection to a real social need. Riley quotes approvingly the judgment of educational theorist Richard Vedder: “…most of the research done to earn tenure is darn near useless. On any rational cost-benefit analysis, the institution of tenure has led to the publication of hundreds of thousands of papers that are … read by a dozen people.”

So it turns out that the very people who, under traditional definitions and standards, would be protected by academic freedom and tenure, shouldn’t be in colleges and university classrooms in the first place because they are selfishly pursuing their own narrow interests and contributing little to the well-being of either students or society.

Given that the entire concept of classroom education is outdated, it is abundantly clear that there is no justification for tenure, especially since the vast majority of “research” being produced is entirely useless. A bankrupt nation will not benefit from forcing young people to go into lifetime debt servitude in order to finance upper middle-class lives for a small number of aging intellectuals who have historically done more harm than good.