Tenure

I don’t have tenure. Most of the people who do have tenure where I work will be retiring soon, but they haven’t offered tenure for many years. I am on what’s called a rolling term contract. What does that mean? It means unless something drastic happens, I can’t be fired for six years.

No other job gives that kind of security. Indeed, in the private sector, most people would be happy to be guaranteed a job for six months. There is a logic to giving people in education more than a year of security. Many jobs have application deadlines nine months or more before the job starts. Firing someone in March means the person can’t even apply for a job for the following fall at many colleges.

But six years? So much can change in six years. The eager, innovative teacher who is spending many extra hours trying to find the perfect way to teach can become lazy or embittered. I’m not either, but I am slowing down. I don’t have as much energy as I used to have, and I don’t expect that to get better. I’m typing this with arthritis gloves on my hands and I have more trouble every semester learning the names of the hundred or so new students I get. I see retirement coming. It’s not here yet, but when I stop enjoying it, I will retire. I expect that to occur before six years from now.

Tenure may give security, but I think the rolling term is better for the education system. A little insecurity is probably good for job performance. I would even make it shorter than six years. But I can afford to retire.

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