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Steve Jobs said in a 1995 interview, “The unions are the worst thing that ever happened in education.”
Jobs spoke with Computerworld’s Daniel Morrow in a 1995 interview, which covered a wide range of topics, but frequently delved into Jobs’s views on the American education system. As he said, “I’d like the people teaching my kids to be good enough that they could get a job at the company I work for making $100,000 a year.”
But Jobs blamed teachers unions for getting in the way of good teachers getting better pay. “It’s not a meritocracy,” said Jobs. “It turns into a bureaucracy, which is exactly what’s happened. And teachers can’t teach, and administrators run the place, and nobody can be fired. It’s terrible.”
He noted that one solution is school choice: “I’ve been a very strong believer that what we need to do in education is go to the full voucher system.” Jobs explained that education in America had been taken over by a government monopoly, which was providing a poor quality education for children.
He referenced the government-created phone monopoly, broken up in 1982: “I remember seeing a bumper sticker with the Bell logo on it and it said, ‘We don’t care, we don’t have to.’ That’s certainly what the public school system is. They don’t have to care.”
Jobs said that the main complaint against school choice is that schools would cater only to rich kids, and the poor kids would be “left to wallow together.”
However, he said, “that’s like saying, well, all the car manufacturers are going to make BMWs and Mercedes and nobody’s going to make a $10,000 car. Well, I think the most hotly competitive market right now is the $10,000 car.”
Of course, this ignores the fact that some voucher proposals require that voucher schools accept the voucher for the full price of tuition, and the vast majority of kids would get an education at that price level. And the value of the voucher would be set to buy an education easily as good (and likely much better) than the current public school system
In other words, Jobs said, all students would benefit from more school choice, as the monopoly in education was broken up.
“The market competition model seems to indicate that where there is a need, there is a lot of providers willing to tailor their products to fit that need, and a lot of competition which keeps forcing them to get better and better.”
Of course, being a billionaire tech genius does not make one an all purpose expert on everything. But it does mean one knows a lot about dynamic, radically innovative and creative markets, and how they serve consumers. That is to say, markets very unlike the current educational market.