Thursday, February 22, 2007

Steve Jobs, you and I are in disagreement

I like Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple. I think he makes a good product and has done a lot of good work as a philanthropist. But his recent tirade against teachers and their unions reveal that he doesn't have a clue about how public education unionism works.

He falls into the typical trap of CEO's who think that public schools should be run like private companies, when they are in fact not private companies. They're public schools.

See the difference?

Sure you do, and you aren't no fancy CEO of a big 'ol Fortune 500 company. Apple computers doesn't have to take in any computer user, regardless of their desire to use an Apple, their ability to use an Apple, or their own personal problems. If users of Apple computers fail in their use, no one at Apple is held to account. However, this is exactly the premise of public schooling, where allcomers are welcomed, regardless of personal situation, talent, intelligence, or willingness to learn. Public schools are totally unlike any other institution in society in this way.

And I'm sure it's just a coincidence that no aspect of Apple's production is unionized. I'm sure Jobs would freely allow his employees to choose union representation for themselves. Yep. I'm positive of it.

Jobs railed against due process for teachers and bemoaned the fact that principals can't just fire teachers whenever they please.

People have a false idea of what 'tenure' means for teachers. Tenure doesn't mean you can't be fired, it just means that your manager has to actually manage you--provide support if you need it, document your failings as an employee, and if you don't improve, then out you go. It's true that not many teachers are fired once they get tenure, but what is less known that many are simply forced out if they're bad teachers. The union encourages them to take early retirement, their districts encourage them to leave, and if there are serious problems, then an exit that's beneficial to everyone is negotiated.

That's it.

And don't give me the malarkey about how unions hold this process up. Everyone has worked in a non-union environment where the worthless employees are protected for one reason or another, and it's not the union that holds up their exit. It's poor management, people who don't want conflict, or are terrified of their own managerial shadows.

Although at least he didn't compare us to Al Qaeda, like Sean Hannity did.

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