Compromise proposals to modify tenure without ending it have been floated. Ideas include making it renewable or using fixed term contracts instead of a lifetime term. But where states including Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona have tried to modify tenure, the opposition has been vehement and reforms have amounted to little.

Higher education economics, meanwhile, are increasingly making tenure obsolete in favor of adjuncts and contract teaching anyway. Forget professors for a moment, that trend is not necessarily good for students, universities, or states either. As a once and future adjunct myself, the adjunct system is terrific for people like me who only want to teach part time, but it’s terrible for people seeking to be professional academics and it’s at odds with part of the scholarly mission of universities.

So perhaps it is time for a tenure brawl in higher education, and time to take the ideas to mend — rather than end — tenure more seriously. Otherwise, before too long the point may become academic.