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Reviews and Responses


Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s plan to solve budget problems by dramatically cutting public education funding has once again sparked heated debate over the figurative and literal “value” of education. As other state governments consider similar proposals, educators feel increased pressure to justify how they go about the important job of teaching. Never before has research on academics been more important, especially in higher education where so little is publicly known about what professors do in their day to day profession. This is true of all ranks of professors within academia, but perhaps most critically of professors with tenure. In Professing to Learn: Creating Tenured Lives and Careers in the American Research University Anna Neumann presents the results of her interviews of 78 participants from five universities in the years just following their tenure and details the many demands that are layered onto a professor’s plate as one gets into the middle ranks, “without any recognition that you already have a lot of them” (p. 31). With anti-intellectualism on the rise in mainstream public discourse, the purpose of tenure (to guarantee academic freedom) is rarely defined or defended, although The Daily Show with Jon Stewart aired on February 28, 2011 did an excellent job of critiquing the misconceptions circulated by media pundits critical of public educators.

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©2011-2012 Karen Mitchell and Bettina Fabos



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