oscar run xxviii: the prestige
oscar run xxix: animated short films

has there ever been a less appropriate last name than “jobs”?

More on Steve Jobs' misinformed rant against teachers unions. The technology blog at SF Gate has a post, "Steve Jobs angers teachers," that includes the following excerpt from a response by the California Federation of Teachers:

In the years before the iPod saved Apple from extinction, its computer advertising exhumed dead geniuses for its "think different" campaign. Black and white photos, each featuring an instantly recognizable off-center hero, carried the message that if you bought a Mac, you'd be a brilliant hipster, too.

Luckily for Apple, no one could ask the deceased what they thought about that. One of this ad campaign's most enduring images was of Chicano civil rights icon Cesar Chavez, arm draped over a hoe. Farm worker union organizers had so often failed to crack the power of the state's agribusiness elite it was common wisdom that it couldn't be done. Chavez's historic achievement was to build the first farm worker union that lasted.

The ad, of course, doesn't endorse unions. It simply appropriates the image of a Chicano hero in a state with a growing Chicano population and, presumably, potential market for Apple products. Indeed, in the 1990s Steve Jobs and Apple notoriously resisted granting union recognition to its largely Latino, low paid, contracted out Silicon Valley janitorial workforce until the Justice for Janitors union campaign embarrassed the corporation sufficiently to bring Jobs and his company around.

I looked forward to reading the comments attached to the post, naively assuming Jobs would take it on the chin from enlightened readers. Boy, was I wrong. "Klingon" wrote:

Talk about revenge of the nerds. Education majors were/are universally regarded as the dumbest of undergrads/graduate students and for good reason. They have yet to realize that unionization is antithecal [sic] to professionalism. Merit, not longevity, should be the yardstick. That plus the eduNazis constantly holding children hostage for their monetary demands is despicable….

And "mmms":

Jobs merely said what everyone knows. The educational system went to the dogs a long time ago.

I posted my own comments:

I've been teaching since 1987, and have been a member of teachers unions for all of those twenty years. I am not dumb, despite what Klingon might think ... in fact, I have a PhD from Cal that I like to think I earned. I also have won teaching awards. I am proud to be in my union, which among other things provides protection against the attempts of some to apply misguided notions of "merit" as an excuse to get rid of teachers they don't like. No one likes bad teachers, but defining "bad" is far more complicated than the above commenters seem to realize. Is a teacher "bad" because he or she assigns an R-rated movie? Are they "bad" because they assign any movies at all? How about teachers who try to teach critical thinking skills to students whose parents believe critical thinking begins and ends with whatever their particular religious text tells them is right? Who do you think has the back of teachers at times like this? It sure isn't Steve Jobs.

As for holding our students hostage over "monetary demands," teachers are well aware of the negative impact labor conflicts can have on the students, and do not take actions frivolously. Klingon makes it sound, though, as if well-to-do teachers are trying to expand on their upper-middle-class existence at the expense of poor students. In twenty years, the most I have made in a single year is $40,000, and that was once ... in almost every other year, I made less than half of that. I spent ten years as a steelworker, and I made more in each of those ten years than I made in 19 of my 20 years as a teacher (which isn't to say I got rich in the factory, but just points out that teachers are woefully underpaid).

Hard-working teachers ... and there are a lot of them ... know better than anybody how pitiful the educational system is today. Teachers are working in the trenches, and are part of the solution, not the problem. If Steve Jobs or anyone else wants to point fingers at the culprits who are bringing our educational system down, they need to look somewhere besides teachers.

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