Don’t Confuse Me With Any Facts
Filed under: General — Leo Casey @ 1:27 pm
Apple Computers CEO Steve Jobs and Dell Computers CEO Michael Dell had a recent joint appearance in Austin, Texas.
Jobs, sitting atop a non-union corporation, seized the occasion to attack teacher unions; Dell offered a different point of view. “I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way,” Jobs said. “This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy.” Dell, who sat on his hands during Jobs’ anti-union comments, responded that unions were developed because “the employer was treating his employees unfairly and that was not good.”
In a reaction that would have made Pavlov proud, the anti-teacher union blogosphere has been disseminating Jobs’ — but not Dell’s — comments. If you have a lot of free time on your hands, check out the pro-corporate, anti-union Amen chorus here, here, and here.
There is a not so little fly in the ointment here. Jobs made his comments in the capitol of Texas, a “right to work” state where collective bargaining for public school educators is prohibited by law. If there is anything like the unthinking shibboleth of “life time employment of K-12 teachers” in Texas, Jobs is going to have to find a villain for his tale other than teacher unions. In fact, Edwize readers may remember the story we covered here last year of a Texas teacher of art who was fired for taking her students on a school approved trip to a museum of art, after a parental complaint of a naked statue — some life time employment. The tenor of Jobs’ comments about losing business in Texas suggests that he is quite oblivious to the status of collective bargaining in the Lone Star State, much less the ease with which Texas educators are fired for simply doing their jobs.
For that matter, there is a not insubstantial list of “right to work” states that prohibit collective bargaining for public school educators, mostly from the South and the former Confederacy: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. Note that anti-teacher union corporate partisans like Jobs never compare the educational performance of these “right to work states” to the educational performance of states with high levels of teacher unionization, despite the rather obvious counterfactual and terms of comparison.
Don’t confuse the anti-union crowd with any facts.
Leo Casey. U.F.T.
Forcing a Risky Business Model on Us
By Robert Brower
By applying an untested business model to educational reform, political and business leaders are openly promulgating forced competition among schools. They are demanding change for change’s sake, coveting any new idea that comes along to demonstrate anecdotal improvement and using flawed statistics to foist unproven changes on our schools. This strong push is more about political dogma than about raising the performance of public school students.
As educational leaders, we must make our collective voice heard loudly and clearly before it is too late. We are being driven down a tangential road by those with influence in high places who lack even basic expertise in educational research and whose desire for good political sound bites is more important than the future of our children.
Not only is the business model of reform misguided, there is not a shred of statistically significant research that supports the notion that competition will solve whatever ails K-12 education. If we succumb to this experiment of political thought, the consequences may be devastating to our economic and social future…
Unfortunately, many educators do not recognize the hidden agenda — the dismantling of public education. During recent national elections it was common to hear politicians calling for schools to be operated more like retail franchises, competing for customers in a crowded marketplace. “Why,” these proponents ask, “should public schools be protected from competition?” But I ask, "Where is the research that supports such experimentation?"
As a public school educator for the last 33 years, I believe forcing business-like competition onto schools would lead –AND HAS ALREADY LED- to many undesired outcomes, while paying little attention to cooperative endeavors that could benefit students and school programs. For instance, the competitive business world does not encourage the sharing of successful strategies, but in education cooperation is a necessity.
Rather than shaming schools into improving, we should be supporting low-achieving schools partnering with successful schools. The “produce or die” operating model of the corporate arena and academia may work with manufacturing cogs and college professors, but this business approach to education has no proven track record of success for students and schools…
Continuing to advocate a politically motivated, market-driven system of education will only delay the real work that needs to be done to help our public schools grow. We should not be at odds with one another but rather respectful of our separate areas of expertise.
Robert Brower is superintendent of the North Montgomery Community School Corporation, 480 W. 580 North, Crawfordsville, IN 47933. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jan. 2007.
And, here I am a Mac user. :-(