Monday, June 14, 2010

Steve Jobs is Crazy about Vouchers and Hates Unions, "Let's start our own school."

Back in 1996, Steve Jobs did a Wired interview that may stun your senses when it comes to his vision of a fully voucherized educational system. But don’t take my word for it…

Steve Jobs: “The Next Insanely Great Thing” By Gary Wolf, Feb 1996 The Wired Interview

I used to think that technology could help education. I've probably spearheaded giving away more computer equipment to schools than anybody else on the planet. But I've had to come to the inevitable conclusion that the problem is … a political problem. The problems are unions. You plot the growth of the NEA [National Education Association] and the dropping of SAT scores, and they're inversely proportional. The problems are unions in the schools. The problem is bureaucracy. I'm one of these people who believe the best thing we could ever do is go to the full voucher system.

I have a 17-year-old daughter who went to a private school for a few years before high school. The tuition was $5,500 a year, the teachers were paid less than public school teachers - so it's not about money at the teacher level … California pays on average to send kids to school, and I believe it was $4,400.
Here’s where the greediest man in the country goes off the chart with visions of a pure voucher system where just about anyone who wants to “start a school” on a shoestring, can.

If we gave vouchers to parents for $4,400 a year, schools would be starting right and left. People would get out of college and say, "Let's start a school." You could have a track at Stanford within the MBA program on how to be the businessperson of a school. And that MBA would get together with somebody else, and they'd start schools. And you'd have these young, idealistic people starting schools, working for pennies.
That’s what we need, a million different curricula and no standards, no stability, no parental accountability by the schools and our kids are used as guinea pigs. There's more. The following theory of education posed by Jobs is a rambling, irresponsible, bizarre and a reckless embarrassment. I wish I were exaggerating.

They'd do it because they'd be able to set the curriculum. When you have kids you think, what exactly do I want them to learn? Most of the stuff they study in school is completely useless. But some incredibly valuable things you don't learn until you're older - yet you could learn them when you're younger. And you start to think, what would I do if I set a curriculum for a school? God, how exciting that could be! But you can't do it today. You'd be crazy to work in a school today. You don't get to do what you want. You don't get to pick your books, your curriculum. You get to teach one narrow specialization. Who would ever want to do that?

Lincoln did not have a Web site at the log cabin where his parents home-schooled him, and he turned out pretty interesting.
Thank god Jobs stayed out of starting his own chain of voucher schools on a whim…so far.

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