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Steve Jobs Blasts Teachers Unions

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Apple’s CEO has a problem with public schools that he sees as rooted in the unions that prevent principals from firing underperforming teachers.

Even though Jobs shared a Texas stage with Dell’s co-founder and CEO, Michael Dell, the iconic Apple executive stole the show at an education reform conference. He criticized teachers unions and textbook publishers during a talk that received applause from attendees.

An AP report on his remarks cited Jobs’ observation that no amount of technology could turn around classroom performance. Jobs compared the inability to fire poor teachers to a small business that couldn’t get rid of its bad employees.

He called out unions for specific criticism:

“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.

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

Some observers commenting on Jobs’ remarks saw money as the cure. Said Robert Scoble:

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

Steve Jobs Blasts Teachers Unions
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  • zpf

    Jobs should stick to running Apple; Apple’s not charged with the far more complex task of offering an education to every individual American child. What if Apple had to provide an iPod, customized to suit every individual, free to everyone who asked? Apple would fail as a business. Yet public schools continue to take on this task–and unions, in the few states where they have any influence at all, play a role in keeping teaching from becoming something no one in their right mind would want to do. Does Jobs want to raise taxes to raise teacher pay nationwide? Or does he want to fill the bill personally–I doubt even Jobs has that much personal income to bring to bear, which makes his comments irresponsible. I doubt he’s willing to put his money where his mouth is. Perhaps he’d like to try running Apple when the only thing he could offer potential employees is decent job security, while his competitors offer triple the pay out of college and far less stress. Again, Apple wouldn’t fare well. Apple is thankfully great; stick to CEO-ing Steve.