Macintosh computers have a reputation as being a favorite with progressive, arty types, though that may change after Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ recent tirade against teacher unions.
Along with Dell CEO, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs was speaking at an education reform conference in Austin, Texas, on bringing technological advances to classrooms.
Jobs’ contention was that no matter what technology was introduced into the classroom, public education would not improve until the union stranglehold on the teaching profession was removed.
“I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way,” Steve Jobs said, according to an Associated Press report.
He suggested that anyone who was smart would not become a school principle because they “couldn’t rid of people that they thought weren’t any good”.
Jobs also said that the unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers was “off-the-charts” crazy. He quipped that Apple had probably lost business in Texas because of his attack on teacher unions.
Dell took a more moderate line, explaining that unions were initially created because employees were being treated unfairly, but now enterprises take “good care of their people”. Dell’s take on the problems with public schools was that there needed to be a competitive job market for principals.
Whether Jobs’ views have merit or not is not the point; certainly there are arguments for both sides.
What’s interesting is the potential of Jobs’ views to alienate some of his adoring Mac fans, who traditionally come from education, and typically liberal creative professions, such as design and movie making.
As an interesting aside, the world’s richest man, and chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates also shares Jobs’ concerns about public education, but he has a very different perspective, which you can read about in this report from the Seattle Times.