In the May 1 Fresno Bee, the Editorial Board wrote an opinion which shows a complete misunderstanding of tenure for teachers. In part it said, “Tenure is a privilege, not a right.”
In 1951, journalist Alan Barth published the book, “The Loyalty of Free Men.” I recommend that The Bee board members read this eloquent essay that touches on this very important concept of tenure. Tenure, he says, “is simply a means to the maintenance of academic freedom.”
The simple practical purpose of the principles on tenure “is to enable a teacher to follow the truth as he/she sees it without fear of losing his/her job.”
Academic freedom and tenure, Mr. Barth says, “are not privileges extended to the teaching profession, but a form of insurance to society that the teaching profession will be able to discharge its function conscientiously.”
In 1968, 17 years after Mr. Barth wrote the book, Fresno State experienced a violation of a professor’s academic freedom by forces on and off the campus. Those who knew the value of tenure and academic freedom reacted by creating the Fresno Free College Foundation to support and defend these important principles. It will celebrate its 50th year in 2018.
Alex Vavoulis, Fresno