Steve Jobs Blasts Teachers Unions

Okay, I’m not a teacher anymore. But, it wasn’t that long ago that I stood in front of a classroom and worked my butt off trying to inspire a love of learning. When I saw the title Apple CEO lambasts teacher unions out there on the web, I got worried.

I come from a long line of Union Reps and organizers. Was I about to feel obliged to dump my Mac? So, with trepedation, I read the article.

“I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way,” Jobs said.

Not off to a good start here… I have worked at too many schools where the union was the only thing protecting teachers from negligent administrators and overly litigious parents.

“This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy.”

“Lifetime employment”? That’s not a reality in my world. It’s incredibly difficult to assure one’s employment year to year as a teacher until one gets seniority. And, out here in Western Massachusetts, there is such a teacher glut that schools can let all their new teachers go every year and be reasonably sure they will have a full staff in September. The longer you teach, the more they have to pay you. So, I have seen too many people fired for phony reasons to consider “lifetime employment” credible.

I agree with Robert Scoble who said in response to Jobs:

If you want better schools, pay teachers $80,000 a year or more, AND give the staff power to get rid of bad apples (bad pun, given the cause of today’s post, I know) and you’ll see school quality turn around in an instant.

I also agree with Don Dodge who posted this response:

The problem is not money. Schools already get more than 50% of the local budgets in most cities and towns. Health care is the same deal. We spend more per capita on health care than any country in the world. The problems with education and health care are not lack of funding. The problem is lack of incentive.

The System is broken. Not the teachers! It’s as antiquated as System 6.0.8, Mr. Jobs. Let’s be open to looking at the logical NeXT Step in education. Let’s not be afraid to dump our plans and Think Different about what it even means to educate our kids.

Mr. Jobs, when you toured Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) and saw the Graphic User Interface, you had an idea that changed computing. But, you were quoted in an interview saying something along the lines of…

if you weren’t so blown away by the possibilities of the Graphical User Interface, you would have been able to pay better attention to the next thing that they demoed. And, if you had paid better attention, the Macintosh would have been a wholly different machine than the PC. And, comparisons between the two would have been more difficult than apples and oranges, it would have been nearly impossible. The next thing they demoed was Ethernet, resulting in incorporating high-speed networking back in 1984!

I’m waiting for more statements on education by Mr. Jobs. Let’s see if you can recover this customer before my Powerbook needs replacing.

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