HolyCoast: Steve Jobs Identified the Real Problem in Today's Schools Back in 1995

Monday, October 10, 2011

Steve Jobs Identified the Real Problem in Today's Schools Back in 1995

This 1995 interview with the late Steve Jobs conducted by the Smithsonian Institution has an awful lot of truth in it.
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 a hundred thousand dollars a year. Why should they work at a school for thirty-five to forty thousand dollars if they could get a job here at a hundred thousand dollars a year?...

The problem there of course is the unions. The unions are the worst thing that ever happened to education because it's not a meritocracy. It turns into a bureaucracy, which is exactly what has happened. The teachers can't teach and administrators run the place and nobody can be fired. It's terrible….

I've been a very strong believer in that what we need to do in education is to go to the full voucher system…. One of the things I feel is that, right now, if you ask who are the customers of education, the customers of education are the society at large, the employers who hire people, things like that. But ultimately I think the customers are the parents. Not even the students but the parents.

The problem that we have in this country is that the customers went away. The customers stopped paying attention to their schools, for the most part. What happened was that mothers started working and they didn't have time to spend at PTA meetings and watching their kids' school. Schools became much more institutionalized and parents spent less and less and less time involved in their kids' education. What happens when a customer goes away and a monopoly gets control, which is what happened in our country, is that the service level almost always goes down.
The same thing can be said of health care. When we separated the customers from the costs of the health services they used, thanks to inexpensive employer health plans, it opened the door for health costs to skyrocket. Without any form of competition there was no incentive to keep costs down.

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