Okay the WaPo has now entered the territory of deep absurdity, employing an ombudsman who does not reply to the public. Which I suppose now makes her the ombudsman to the Heritage Foundation, to whom she does reply.
Just in case there was any lingering doubt as to Howell's political alignment, reader Bob B. did some digging into her background and unearthed some information about her husband, C. Peter Magrath, former president of the National Association of State Colleges and Land Grant Universities.
In 1997 McGrath published a Howowitzian paper calling for the elimination of tenure:
It is clear to me that tenure is one of those "third rails" that can quickly electrocute university chancellors and presidents.In light of the LA Times story about the really frightening Bruin Alumni Association's "Exposing UCLA's Radical Professors" initiative, whereby students are paid to spy on professors perceived as liberal, tenure is one of the only safeguards against fascism totally overrunning the institutions of higher learning that are one of the last bulwarks against it in this country.
Although still valued highly by society for the knowledge they produce, colleges and universities have only "soft" support in many sectors of society because of perceptions -- some justified, some not -- that we are not fully accountable and responsible; that we are inefficient and too often self-indulgent; and that we neglect the largest constituency that we are supposed to serve -- undergraduate students.
The issue of tenure must be viewed in this broader context of public unrest about higher education. It is part of a larger examination of American universities that is going on nationwide. Studies by such respected groups as the Public Agenda Foundation show that tenure, fairly or unfairly, evokes disdain from civic and business leaders because they believe it protects professors from the accountability and productivity required of other workers. I suspect that college tenure also is caught up in the many negative perceptions that exist regarding teacher tenure in our nation's elementary and secondary schools.
Howell and her husband may be stupid but they're dangerous, and anything they do should be viewed through the light of their deep conservative convictions much like other Texans Who Shall Remain Nameless.
For anybody wishing to express their sentiments publicly to the Post, the Maryland Moment blog is still open.