updated 08:55 pm EST, Fri February 16, 2007
Jobs, Dell share stage
Last week it was the music labels, this week it was teacher unions. Apple cofounder and CEO Steve Jobs on Friday spared no words in criticizing the state of public schools and the teacher unions, saying that schools were never likely to improve until principals could fire bad teachers. The Associated Press notes that Jobs shared the stage with rival CEO Michael Dell to deliver their vision of technology in classrooms. Jobs, who is known to be quite intolerant of what he calls incompetence at his own company, touted a text-book free classroom, but reiterated that no amount of technology in the classroom would improve public schools until principals could fire bad teachers.
The report says that Jobs' words were quite strong, noting that the Apple and Pixar CEO "lambasted" teacher unions and likened schools to businesses with principals serving as CEOs. Teacher unions, he said, that the unions have directly contributed demise of public education.
"What kind of person could you get to run a small business if you told them that when they came in they couldn't get rid of people that they thought weren't any good?" he asked. "Not really great ones because if you're really smart you go, 'I can't win.'"
Jobs' comments reportedly drew loud applause during an education reform conference, but while Jobs' comments seemed to be drawing support from the crowd, Dell's CEO, who has previously taken swipes at Apple, sat quietly with his hands folded in his lap.
Jobs, however, continued despite the potential repercussions faced the Cupertino-based company when negotiating future California contracts.
"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."
"Apple just lost some business in this state, I'm sure," Jobs admitted.
Dell, who recently took back the reins as CEO of Dell, responded that unions were created because "the employer was treating his employees unfairly and that was not good.
"So now you have these enterprises where they take good care of their people. The employees won, they do really well and succeed."
The report says Dell also blamed problems in public schools on the lack of a competitive job market for principals.
Previously, Jobs outlined his vision for textbook-free schools in the future, the report said. Textbooks, he claimed, would be replaced with a free, online information source that was constantly updated by experts, much like the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
"I think we'd have far more current material available to our students and we'd be freeing up a tremendous amount of funds that we could buy delivery vehicles with - computers, faster Internet, things like that," Jobs said. "And I also think we'd get some of the best minds in the country contributing."