Friday, February 23, 2007
There's A Worm In This Apple For The Teacher...
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computers, wants to consign teachers' unions to the trash bin of history, and make it so that teachers can be fired at will. Just like white collar employees in that citadel of enlightenment, The Corporate World. His rationale is that only bad teachers will ever be fired, and the weeding out process that results will improve the quality of teachers nationwide. Competition will rule, he believes, just as it does in The Real World. He does not seem to realize that public education is a non-profit activity, the function of a society's obligation to educate its young. It is something that must be done, not something that people do to make a lot of money or become famous. Teachers will never be competitively paid, if the truth be known. Teaching is a calling, not a paycheck. In fact, the efforts of teachers' unions to ensure that teachers have some job security and a living wage are among the few means the profession has for attracting talented young people into its ranks. You do away with even those minimal perqs, and you will chase people away - not draw them in.
And who would determine what teachers should be fired? Or not hired at all? Suppose the school board decides that teachers of American history and English literature should be fired and replaced with more teachers of Finance For Teenagers or Advanced Placement Computer Programming? After all, aren't Finance and Computer Programming more important in The Real World than History and Literature? Doesn't The Market place a higher demand on them? Speaking of markets... If public schools should be run like businesses, who says they won't reach a point where they can compete only by offering the most popular courses rather than the ones that kids really need? Will Slasher Films For Kids and The History Of Rock Divas drive out even Finance and Computer Programming, just because more kids want to take them, ergo more parents will be pressured to demand them from their local schools?
Corporations have already polluted our universities with their blinkered focus on profit and their contempt for the moral and intellectual value of asking The Big Questions. Are we going to allow that same misguided ethos to destroy the foundations of our educational system as well?
Teachers get a raw deal for doing a job that is already too tough as it is. One of the reasons why kids don't have the discipline to learn anything anymore is because they have learned that instant gratification is everything, that the ends is infinitely more important than the means - and that Profit Is All. And who on earth taught them that?
"Steve Jobs, Proud to Be Nonunion" from Wired