Will Steve Jobs’ blast against teacher unions hurt Apple?

“Steve Jobs insulted California’s teachers. They want him to apologize,” Jack D. Miller writes for Mac360. “He won’t, and the whole brouhaha may cost Apple millions in Mac sales to school systems and harm students. What should he do? Hold that thought while I back up.”

Miller writes, “Unless you were out of the country, and haven’t checked the news recently, Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, insulted, lambasted, poked, prodded, and bullied teacher unions. How? How about this? Jobs said, ‘I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way.’ That’s for starters.”

“Hours afterwards, American Federation of Teachers President Edward J. McElroy called for Jobs head on a platter… [but] was Jobs wrong? Many teachers and nearly everyone else agreed with Jobs’ poke at the unions in schools,” Miller writes.

“How does blasting teachers and their union help the Apple cause? True, a little truth hurts,” Miller writes. “What Jobs spoke, by many measures was truth, and I’m married to a teacher. Carol agreed with Steve and echoed similar frustrations as she deals with incompetent teachers every day.”

Miller writes, “It isn’t that I don’t agree with Steve’s sentiments regarding teacher unions, but I have to ask, ‘is it necessary to voice such an opinion?’ Who wins? Teachers and educators are upset at Apple and that could cause them to revolt and purchase fewer Macs. In turn, fewer Macs in the classroom mean more students would be required to learn and use Windows PCs.”

Full article here.
Jack, you lost us. Didn’t you just get through telling us that your wife the teacher and “many teachers and nearly everyone else agreed with Jobs?”

Don’t confuse union bosses with teachers. Let’s be clear: Jobs didn’t insult California’s teachers (Jobs made his statements in Texas, by the way) or “teachers” as whole. Jobs insulted bad teachers and teacher unions. The teachers with whom we’ve corresponded agree with Jobs roughly 6-1. Of course the unions themselves are upset as they’re being called out publicly and loudly, but union leaders don’t often pick the kinds of computers schools use.

Jack asked above, “Who wins?” Jobs was trying to start the ball rolling so that the students would end up winning (for a change).

And, hey, you never know, people might just prefer to buy product from someone who’s unafraid to speak their mind (even if it could potentially hurt sales) vs. some meek little asskisser who sits quietly with his hands folded in his lap praying that people will mindlessly continue buying his cut-rate garbage. Right, Mr. Dell?

Related articles:
Teachers union demands apology from Apple CEO Steve Jobs – February 23, 2007
A clearer picture of Steve Jobs’ thoughts on public education and teacher unions – February 21, 2007
Steve Jobs & Rush Limbaugh agree: U.S. public schools are ‘unionized in the worst possible way’ – February 20, 2007
Apple CEO blasts teacher unions, says US schools are ‘unionized in the worst possible way’ – February 16, 2007


  1. I am a teacher and a technology coordinator for a small school. I, for one, am not angry at his comments. I am not a union member (though I still have to pay them some money) because it is my little way of protesting many of the policies and goals of the NEA and AFT. The NEA and the AFT exist to benefit teachers first and foremost and as a distant second, benefit education as they see education should be. They are very resistant to any change that threatens their power and the comfort of their members, even if it would improve education.

    I think that teacher tenure, in its current form, has hurt society greatly. I’ve known plenty of teachers that are not as good at teaching as I would like to see. They don’t use class time well. They don’t challenge students much. They don’t encourage them to become better than they currently are. They don’t try anything new. They don’t even like their job.

    If you add this up, a little bit at a time, all over the country, you get a negative effect on society. Can we keep up with the rest of the world when so many young people are never developed to their full potential?

    Everyone is entitled to due process when there is a problem but the current system requires that a person is grossly wrong before any actions are taken. In Minnesota, my home state, once you have taught three years in one district, you pretty much have a free pass unless there are budget cuts. Even in the case of budget cuts, the one with the lower tenure must be released before the one with higher tenure. It doesn’t matter who is a better teacher. I say that is WRONG.

    I wish more people would speak up like Steve.

  2. How many of those “Union Mafia” types believe they are part of the problem rather than part of the solution? Most people believe they are part of the solution, even Unions which support questionable teachers. Even good teachers who know bad teachers but who don’t want folks looking too closely because they are not certain which side they fall on.

    DLMeyer – the Voice of G.L.Horton’s Stage Page

  3. Hi,

    It may hurt him a little in the short term, but in the end most people will conclude he is right. It is a broken system and most good teachers understand that they are hurt by the bad ones that have tenure.

    On the flip side, he may have helped himself with College faculty, as they have for years complained about having to re-teach the basics because the high school standards have dropped so much.

    Lets face the facts, no matter whether you come from the right or left we all know the system needs an overhaul, we just differ on the approach. It is time for a real debate and in the long run Jobs will be seen as a visionary for breaking the sacred taboo and admitting that there is a problem that must be addressed.


  4. Doubt it. Form all the articles I’ve read on MDN and other sites teachers don’t make the decisions on which computers go in the class rooms that is usually determined by local school boards and PTA’s. The main reason for this being that it is considered extraordinary equipment as would football uniforms for a high school foot ball teams. Each state and locality has to vote on these thing because it usually affects everyone , who may live in that state or locality’s, bottom line. Bond issues and or local property taxes may have to be raised or bake sales and 5k runs may have to be sponsored. All Steve said is that teachers are unionized in the worst possible way. IF the teachers Union has an issue with this statement… take him to court try and prove that this is slander. Other wise acknowledge the fact and implement change. Demanding apologies in a closed forum is lame when over 95% of your constituents are not insulted. the other thing Steve pointed out is the computer is simply a tool by itself it will not improve the education or learning ability of this nations children. I see nothing inflammatory with either position. The California teachers union should be more introspective they would learn more.

  5. Mdn says ” Jack, you lost us”


    Sorry you,re lost, but what he’s saying is pretty self-explanitory. Jobs insulted teachers unions.. Whether he’s wrong or right is besides the point (I personally believe he’s right.) However, as the CEO of a computer company, he insulted the very people who may have a significant impact on deciding whether the product that his company sells (Macs,) gets into classrooms. It’s like the old saying “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

  6. Tired or Retards

    If you’re so “tired of retards,” then stop being one and think logically for a second..

    It doesn’t matter if Jobs insulted good or bad teachers or whether “good” teachers agree and “bad” teachers don’t. The point is that ALL teachers (good or bad) have a voice and can make an impact in deciding which computers end up in their classrooms.

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