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Jobs to get "Rotten Apple' award without apology

updated 03:20 pm EST, Fri February 23, 2007

Teachers demand apology

The California Federation of Teachers has invited Apple CEO Steve Jobs to either attend an annual CFT convention next month or offer a public apology for his "insulting comments" to California's teachers. Should Jobs fail to apologize or neglect to attend the conference, where he is encouraged to speak with the people who educate California's children and hear from them what the situation is like, the CFT will create a new award specifically for Apple's chief. "We'll call it the Rotten Apple, for the individual who best personifies the need to think differently about public education and teacher unions," California Federation of Teachers president Mary Bergan wrote in a letter to the executive. Bergan aggressively rebuted Jobs' statement to an educational reform conference last week, where he expressed belief that the schools have become unionized "in the worst possible way" and that the unionization with lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is "off-the-charts crazy."

Bergan offers a history of Apple's "Think Different" ad campaign, pointing to the Cupertino-based company's black and white photos featuring instantly recognizable heroes such as Latino civil rights icon Cesar Chavez. The CFT president says Apple resisted granting union recognition to its low paid largely Latino contracted Silicon Valley janitorial workforce in the 1990s until the Justice for Janitors union embarrassed the computer maker sufficiently "to bring Jobs and his company around."

Another icon shown in black and white by Apple in its now-dated advertisement campaign was famed physicist Albert Einstein, who as Bergan points out was fond of teacher unions. Quoting Einstein, Bergan writes: "I consider it important, indeed urgently necessary, for intellectual workers to get together, both to protect their own economic status and also, generally speaking, to secure their influence in the political field."

The head of the group noted that Einstein joined the American Federation of Teachers in 1938 as a charter member of the Princeton University local, highlighting the fact that the famed scientist "practiced what he preached."

"I guess it's harder for a billionaire CEO of a non-union company to understand," Bergan wrote. "It's easier, 'think different' aside, to simply mouth something that's been repeated a lot over the years: teacher unions are the problem in public education."

The group leader says the big problem is actually under-funding, and contested Jobs' likening of public education to a business.

"Let me do the same. How well could a business -- say, a computer company -- operate if you paid its professional employees so poorly and put them in work environments so unsupportive that nearly half of them left the company within five years?" Bergan asks. "How long could that business survive if it had to hold bake sales to get enough chips to build its machines?"

by MacNN Staff




  1. Sphincty

    Joined: Dec 1969


    You go girl...oh sorry

    You are wrong about Apple. They are just like the school system; low paying, brutal hours with a meglomaniac for a boss.

  1. Pingpop

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Under funding my...

    Ohio went into the top 15 of states by amount of money spend. Ohio is at the bottom of the list in testing. Money is not the problem.

  1. suhail

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I support Jobs

    You cannot be a leader without the authority to change whats around you.

    Yes, a principal must have the authority to fire and hire.

    The only thing that will safeguard against a bad leader is a good board of directors.

  1. lmhaffner

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "It's easier, 'think different' aside, to simply mouth something that's been repeated a lot over the years: teacher unions are the problem in public education."

    Kind of like how he didn't take action in his own field of expertise where the mantra was that either IBM (way back when) or Windows is the problem in the way we use computers today.

    The problem is not that teachers are unionized. The problem is that the teachers have lost a voice in most teacher's unions today. Instead, the union leaders presume to know best, sometimes to the detriment of our schools and children today. When teachers are discouraged from operating outside the box for fear of setting a precedent of performance or work ethic that goes beyond the negotiated contract, we have a serious problem in the system.

  1. ClevelandAdv

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Teachers Unions...

    ...Are not necessary, Jobs is correct in taking them to task. They are also not the only problem with the school systems. Our education system should be the best and most innovative in the world, yet we are far from it.

  1. rspress

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Jobs is right!

    Jobs is 1000 percent right (hey I went to school in California) and the school n***ís are proving him right. The California Teachers unions have become such a powerful political force that they can overturn any new laws that come as propositions on the Cal ballots. It takes 2 years from a California teacher to get tenure. If they have a really bad teacher they will not fire them but they will move them to another school and give them glowing reviews. Now the teachers are threatening him to show up or else. I think he should and really let them have it!

  1. dscottbuch

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Jobs is absolutely right.

    and the union's response shows it. All of the comments above regarding money and and authority are correct. We've had personal experience with the inability of the principal to deal with a totally ineffective teacher. Only those parents where were willing to use personal connections and subvert the system were able to have their kids avoid these teacher. This only compounds the problems, instead of dismissing the bad teacher. It also creates more opportunities for wasteful spending.

    The recent lobbying efforts by the Cal. teachers unions, and the amounts they have spent, show that they are out only for themselves.

  1. bhuot

    Joined: Dec 1969


    rich vs. poor

    You have to separate high income districts from low income districts. It is likely you could get a teaching job without a college education and get lots of perks if you are teaching in a inner city school in LA. You may be shot in the classroom too. And yes the same amount of money is not going to go as far for the poor schools as it will for the rich schools (rich or poor according to average income of parents).

  1. garmonbosia

    Joined: Dec 1969


    job's whole statement

    talks about paying teachers properly. I agree that the unions have turned into a leal defense fund for bad teachers, but we don't have a right to ask our teachers to be top quality when we pay them half of what you need to attract the highest quality people.

    Sure, some work for what they get and are great educators and money isn't eveything to them. But very few people will give up a carreer at Boeing or MS to teach for $35k a year.

    Job's is right. Change the teacher's union into a professional guild, pay them double of what they get now, hire quality admins and hold them responsible for the schools, and start giving education the position in our society it deserves.

  1. gudin

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I think it's funny how the pompous pseudo-intellectuals constantly bring up "Think Different" for allegedly being bad grammar. It is only bad grammar if you are completely inflexible in your mindset (often a problem among those who think they are so intellectual). Different doesn't need to describe how they atelling you to think, it can also be what they are telling you to think about. In that case, "Think Different" is perfectly fine. But then you'd have to be able to think creatively.

    I digress. Jobs had a point. As do many of the others. Teachers unions have created a situation (as have civil service unions) where you basically have to intentionally burn the place of work down to have anything bad happen to them. However, clearly these unions and unions in general have provided a basic foundation of rights and expectations for workers so they are not totally under the thumb of their supervisors.

    In this case, I think Jobs may have been a little less than tactful perhaps, but it's a bit ridiculous to suggest that because Einstein liked the idea of teachers unions, everything they have done has been beneficial. Unions these days very often protect their own interests far more than those of their members. The days of 16 hour day six day work weeks for 12 yr olds making $1/hr are long past.

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