Steve Jobs & Rush Limbaugh agree: U.S. public schools are ‘unionized in the worst possible way’

Rush Limbaugh spoke about Apple CEO Steve Jobs take on U.S. public education and unions today with quotes from April Castro’s article for the Associated Press:

In Austin, Texas, last week, “Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs lambasted teacher unions Friday, claiming no amount of technology in the classroom would improve public schools until principals could fire bad teachers.” He compared skrools to businesses with principals serving as CEOs. “’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 to loud applause during an education reform conference.”

The bottom line here is when he says, “I believe what’s wrong with our schools in this nation is that they’ve become unionized in the worst possible way,” conservatives and just plain people with any common sense have been saying this for decades, but could they get put into the headlines of a story? No. Only if you’re a big lib, only if you’re a big Democrat, do you get applauded for this kind of talk.

I am happy and proud to be on the same page with Steve Jobs. The way to put it is, I’m happy and proud he’s on the same page with me. If he finds out I agree with him, he might change his mind. But I mean this is classic. This is an AP story. Do you know how many average, ordinary American people have been saying this? Do you know how many political candidates on the Republican side have been saying this, and when they say it, they get tarred and feathered and the NEA comes after ’em? Jobs says it, “Wow, why, we must really think about this. Why, there might be something here that we haven’t considered before,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Full transcript here.

Related articles:
Apple CEO blasts teacher unions, says US schools are ‘unionized in the worst possible way’ – February 16, 2007

Apple CEO Steve Jobs: ‘I’m going to just stay away from all that political stuff’ – August 25, 2004

Rush Limbaugh and Apple Computer to intro new podcast service via iTunes – March 08, 2006
Rush Limbaugh announces video podcasts for Apple iPod starting December 12th – November 30, 2005
Rush Limbaugh: ‘I am the hottest thing in podcasting’ – June 09, 2005
Rush Limbaugh and Apple Computer working to bring podcasts of radio show to iTunes Music Store – May 17, 2005
Rush Limbaugh says ‘Mac OS X Tiger Rocks,’ posts link to free Rush advertisement for Mac – April 30, 2005
The Hill: Put Rush Limbaugh on Apple’s board of directors; he could sell tons of Macs – January 26, 2005
Rush Limbaugh calls for Apple iCal to Sidekick solution – November 12, 2004
Rush Limbaugh: Why does Apple put politics first? – June 27, 2003
Rush Limbaugh comments on Gored Apple – March 21, 2003


  1. the problem is when Rush says it, it’s pure ideology. He’s just saying it because it’s the Republican talking point. It doesn’t apply to every single instance (which is the downfall of ideologies)… in this case, there’s something to it.

    predictably, Rush loses when he isn’t thoughtful. I like that Steve Jobs decided to say something that might not help his company’s sales in one particular state. He’s got a point.

    The problem is, where do bad teachers come from? There’s a shortage of teachers as it is, firing them would give you a WORSE problem. Better to have continuous teacher traning, and better feedback mechanisms.

    I mean, come on, when they make 30 grand, you think there are droves of new teachers graduating every year? Steve’s advice would be kamikaze on the American school system.

    Maybe if we paid them more…

    Oh wait, that’s a liberal point of view. Doh!

  2. It’s glib and fascile for both Jobs and Limbaugh (and the conservatives who commented above, and probably below) that the problem with education is “bad teachers”, and if we could just fire them, all of our problems will be solved.

    The fact is that Limbaugh and other conservatives hate unions, no matter whether they do a good job or not. Schools are a perfect example of the so-called “market” not working, because you get most teachers working their asses off for very little pay, and doing a damned good job with little support.

    Meanwhile, some jerk-off CEO (not Jobs) can basically run his/her company into the ground on a multi-million dollar salary, and if (god forbid) the board — comprised of his/her buddies and corporate peers — wants to fire him/her, he/she gets a multi-million dollar severance package.

    Maybe the problem with education in this country is that we don’t value it as a society. After all, some kids still manage to get educated pretty well in the same school districts where others do not, and — even correcting for their socioeconomic advantages over the others — it is possible to get a decent education in a lot of places in this country. Those that don’t either don’t value it enough, or live in places where the schools have been allowed to fall into decrepitude.

    And that has nothing to do with “bad teachers” or the ability to fire them …

  3. Yeah, Rush, isn’t it funny that when you are a loudmouthed, arrogant, obnoxious blowhard that noone listens to you (except people who think exactly the same way you do) and when someone who is accomplished, respected and admired (Steve Jobs) speaks, people listen.

    Maybe it has nothing to do with being a Republican or a Democrat. Maybe the moderates (aka: the rest of us) are the ones who are willing to listen to rational, thoughtful and intelligent people regardless of their background and won’t tolerate listening to blowhards, regardless of their background, even if they happen to be “right” with the content of what they are saying.

    As my mother told me… consider the source.

  4. If there’s two things I hate it’s Rush Limbaugh and over demanding power house unions. The unions need to be controlled for sure, but Rush just needs to be lethally injected. Steve Jobs isn’t on the same page as Rush, because Jobs has potential to do something past breath fire about ideas that are different from his, and although some would argue to the contrary, Jobs doesn’t try to convince his peers that he “knows everything”, anyone familiar with Rush Limbaugh’s Show has heard his bridges from commercials to his show and can’t argue otherwise.

  5. I’d be more likely to support Jobs on this (and, I suppose, Rush) if someone could give me a definition of a “good” and “bad” teacher, and who gets to decide which is which. I know at least half a dozen school teachers (including friends and family) and I’ve heard from ALL of them that teaching is pure politics: what classes you teach, what students you get, what classroom you work in, all of it.

    How do you judge is a teacher is teaching well if they dump half a dozen “special” kids in their class. Or what if all the smart kids are tracked into a lousy teacher’s class?? Based on test scores, they’re going to be a “great” teacher, right? This kind of stuff happens now — imaging how bad it’ll get when money and careers are on the line.

    That said, I have no idea how to “fix” the schools. I mean, how can you regulate that every student wants to learn, and every teacher brings their best game to work every day? You just can’t.

  6. Well, Rush has been saying this for years, that much is true. But he claims liberals are praising Jobs for this. Who is doing that? I’ve read several articles ripping Jobs a new one for his stance. Wired’s Leander Kahney is the latest bozo to take Jobs to task.

    Unions can be just as self serving as any greedy corporation. Protecting an incompetant workers jobs is just as abusive as coporate downsizing or outsourcing to save a buck. I work for a company that does business with unions and if you could see the backroom dealing, fraud, politics, and ego trips that I see you would be just as disgusted as I am by their pretentious and self righteous clamouring over workers rights and corporate abuse. Hypocrites.

  7. MikeK: …give me a definition of a “good” and “bad” teacher, and who gets to decide which is which.

    dammit man, get your own nick … i was here first. If you insist on keeping it, how about going all caps or something. Also you should know that i’ve pissed off a few people here. You may not want to be confused with me.

    now, to your point. The answer is a combination of supervisor, peer, and student review. Throw out the top and bottom scores (like in figure skating, to control for personal bias). In addition to this, we add mandatory teacher testing, with minimum score requirements to keep your job and financial incentives for scoring higher. With all of these things in place it will be a lot easier to pick out the teachers who are coasting on tenure and 20 year old teacher editions of text books.

    No system of evaluation will be perfect but as taxpayers we have a vested interest in how well these people are doing their job.

  8. Rush agrees with Jobs, now it must be true!

    MDN why not get involved in your local school, spend some time there, volunteer, help out in the classroom, help a teacher, grade some school work, and learn about some of the real issues going on. Why do people think they are experts about schools and yet they never set foot in one (and I am not talking about when you were a adolescent or teenager going to school looking at the world through the mind of a kid) go as an adult get involved, learn something.

    I come from a family with seven kids, all of us went to public school, have multiple degrees and/or advanced degrees in science and engineering with the exception of one brother who only has a bachelor degree. I believe we had opportunities people in other countries never had. The difference between the students in our school who succeeded and those who failed is that the successful ones took advantage of the opportunities provided by them!

    Get back to talking about the Mac or shut down!

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