Tenure in teaching- or I’m glad I’m not Steve Jobs.

Teaching is one of the last honorable professions left. At least that’s my opinion. Underpaid, overworked, asked to do the impossible daily- teaching is a profession of underdogs- and underdogs should have a union (just like NCAA atheletes should- but that’s another can of worms).

Steve Jobs is getting blasted for his position on tenure- and although unions consider tenure a key bargaining position, I believe it is as outdated as buggywhips and slide rules.

No one should be guaranteed a job- unless they are performing it well. Especially, if you want a quality product. I remember the teachers who were great influences on me- the ones who instilled the love of learning for me: Mr. Lynn Canfield taught band at Roxboro Jr. High School- and embodied the beauty of music in everything he did. Mr. David DiCarlo who coached football and taught comparative government at Cleveland Heights High School and challenged me more than any college professor- and made me sweat harder than any sergeant  I encountered in the Army. Mr. Steve Young who taught English at the same high school- I disliked him, but he introduced me to more great authors in one year than any other teacher- he made me put into words what I liked and disliked about them in a way that has stuck with me (you’re reading this now- hint). Dr. Michael Cleary at Wright State- could make statistics fun, memorable and even understandable- an amazing gift- not because I understand basic quality concpets now- but because I saw a master teacher practicing his craft.

None of these people were there for the money- or because they had tenure. It was because they had a passion for what they did. Paying them a scale based on seniority instead of on results is a crime. If we had a school system full of teachers like these- we’d have the results we want for the limited dollars we are willing to commit.

So, when the California Teachers Union goes after Steve Jobs- I ask this: why not bargain for technology for all students in exchange for trying it without tenure? Make Steve put his money where his mouth is- and see if we can’t really change education?

Here is a link to a story with comments about the Union and their misplaced attack:

The California Federation of Teachers has invited Apple CEO Steve Jobs to either attend an annual CFT convention next month or offer a public apology for his “insulting comments” to California’s teachers. Should Jobs fail to apologize or neglect to attend the conference, where he is encouraged to speak with the people who educate California’s children and hear from them what the situation is like, the CFT will create a new award specifically for Apple’s chief. “We’ll call it the Rotten Apple, for the individual who best personifies the need to think differently about public education and teacher unions,” California Federation of Teachers president Mary Bergan wrote in a letter to the executive. Bergan aggressively rebuted Jobs’ statement to an educational reform conference last week, where he expressed belief that the schools have become unionized “in the worst possible way” and that the unionization with lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is “off-the-charts crazy.”continue reading: MacNN | Jobs to get “Rotten Apple’ award without apology

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6 Comments on "Tenure in teaching- or I’m glad I’m not Steve Jobs."

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I was a member of the American Newspaper Guild from the time I got my first job on a newspaper in 1954. I stayed in the union up to the day I called it quits 30 years later.

I am totally in agreement with the California Federation of Teachers and think Steve Jobs does not know what he is talking about.

Your four examples of excellent teachers might not have been teacher if their jobs were not protected when some school superintendent or some dentist on a school board decided it was time to retrench and drop music, or art, or consolidate social studies into something new.

When you started school in Cleveland Heights, they had taught art and music from kindergarten through high school — until the day you started school. Then they axed art and music below junior high school. This was to punish the voters for not passing a dumb levy in which they wanted to tear down four perfectly good schools and replace them with “open classrooms.”

When they finally did build the horrible new schools, the teachers put up partitions to recreate the space they lost.

But all those years without music or art are showing up now in what has become a second- or third-rate school system. It was once great, which is why we moved there.

David Esrati
David Esrati

I could also cite examples of teachers who shouldn’t have been teaching- including one x-nun who tried to teach history. A total idiot- who used to fall asleep in her own class (I had pictures).
My father talks about cutting programs- Jobs talked about being able to get rid of lousy teachers- they are two different things.
Job security doesn’t exist for anyone anymore based on what they do in the private sector- we all have to compete.
Yet, in the public sector- jobs are forever with guaranteed raises. We have double dipping, early retirement programs where you still get to work, and protection of the incompetent.


Okay David, you’ve got my attention again. Obviously an issue that elicits a number of emotional responses from both sides of the argument.
From my perspective – and this just based on my own experiences – tenure has done far more harm than good when it comes to maintaining excellence in the classroom, as it applies to colleges and universities. I can’t speak fairly about teacher’s unions within public schools, because, well, I didn’t go to public schools.
For the most part I felt I had good professors in college, the best ones being those who had a lasting impact on me.

My problem with tenure is how it can effectively be used by an entire academic department to keep the “undesirables” out.

And then they have this little tactic called adjunct faculty that allows the tenured, established professors to cherry-pick the classes and class schedules THEY want while dumping on adjuncts who are paid next to nothing and have absolutely no benefits.

Hmmmm, funny how that works. “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Abuse of power and position runs in both directions and comes in all colors, sizes and styles.

Josh Bruce

Just another in a long line of cycles.
People feel exploited, unionize, overflex, the new underdogs unionize, overflex…
Moses, Christ, The Russian revolution, the French revolution, the American revolution, Civil Rights, General Motors, Women’s Liberation, Hitler, Stalin…anyway…
The point is, you don’t need a union to go on strike, or to get things changed in the work place. You need a union to guarantee that you still have a job to go back to. But, if you don’t like where you work – you shouldn’t continue to work there in the first place.
As for the lady getting weirded out by Jobs saying that schools should be run more like a business with the principal as the CEO – umm, schools are a business. Schools, have employees (teachers/students), customers (students/parents), a hierarchy of leadership, a board of directors, stockholders (communities) – and their purpose is to produce a product (humans with the knowledge to perform what we now consider basic tasks such as reading, writing, arithmetic, etc.). I know it’s a “dirty” thing to think of something so “reverred” (schools) as a business/factory – but, they are – so are a lot of other things that we would like to believe aren’t.
It fascinates me as to what people decide is the “problem” with education. It seems to me that we can agree that there’s a problem – just not what exactly the problem is. Which usually indicates mutliple problems. It’s like having strep, the flu, and mono at the same time. Or, an army with 2 soldiers, and 20 generals. The Three-headed Knight from Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. Or, a dragon with 30 brains, and one tail. If you want change, you need fewer heads and more tails to affect that change.
Of course that’s just my opinion – I could be wrong. Good night and good luck.


Unions won’t save our education system if the entire industry moves overseas. In case you didn’t know, we’re already outsourcing Junior’s education to India.


I predict that it won’t be long before the trend moves from just cheap online tutoring to virtual schools based in Mumbai.

I would sign my kid up, but I want to be smarter than he is for a few more years. I have to keep the upper hand somehow.

Phillip Ranly
Phillip Ranly

Out with the unions.