Steve Jobs – the fearless leader of Apple Inc. – has announced that he feels “unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy,” at a recent appearance with Dell Computer founder Michael Dell. Speaking about the importance of technology in the classroom Jobs referred to unionization as one of the problems keeping good teachers out of the classroom and bad ones in. Following on this thread he also spoke of a day where he sees learning resources online for all to access, where the content is constantly updated Wikipedia style.
The story, covered by the Associated Press, says little about Dell’s speech and focuses solely on Job’s more aggressive statements. While I agree in spirit with his ideas that a more competitive market for teachers will likely improve educations, it will take some time and effort to produce such results. With the deep entrenchment of the union mentality in education, and the lack of proper investment in the education systems it would be difficult for such a mindset change to happen. Even in a competitively driven teacher environment there is no promise all schools will end up equal. Although, there is no promise they won’t either.
I think the best idea however is the Wikipedia style online resources. This is not a unique idea and it was inevitable that it would be applied to secondary education. Universities have been moving to online resources for years and it is saving them money and freeing up space for other services. By putting your states, provinces, countries, core educational requirements online and supplementing with additional resources you could have a valuable tool for educational standardization.
Imagine all of Newfoundland and Labrador’s students using the same books, tests, and resources, from an online system. Where teachers, academics, and experts could update and tweak the information when necessary.
AP Wired story here