Steve Jobs And Public Education

Educators and parents love their Apple products, but what did Steve Jobs do for education, really?  That's the question that many are considering in the aftermath of his passing -- especially in comparison to his counterpart, Microsoft founder Bill Gates.  It might be easy to surmise that Jobs may have had more effect on public education than his counterpart at Microsoft despite his lack of focus on education philanthropy. So many kids and educators learned computers on Apple machines -- Apple has targeted schools with massive subsidies.  The brand is closely associated with user creativity and design excellence.  Jobs' widow is on the TFA board. Jobs wasn't one of those who believed that education technology was going to save education, either.  Then again, he's been quoted as virulently anti-union (PCWorld) and there's no Apple or Jobs Foundation giving billions to help poor kids or fix public education (see here). Those who dislike the Gates Foundation's approach and programmatic efforts might prefer Jobs, but those less virulently opposed to all things Gates might say that Gates has done more. [from TWIE]


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  • The one thing I know is that around 1990, most schools had a couple of Apple computers around (even Macs and Mac printers), while Gates was still in the world of the MS DOS command line. Even Windows 3 was a crummy overlay over MS DOS.

    Gates couldn't figure out how to make a more user friendly operating system for about another 10 years. I don't know about comparative philanthropy, but IIRC, Gates's efforts waited for the turn of the millennium, too.

  • Gates hasn't done anything to improve education - he has however, successfully managed to collect a whooooooool lot of data about our children

  • oh, and jobs was pro voucher, too, according to larry cuban

  • In an interview with Daniel Morrow in 1995, Steve Jobs said, "I've been a very strong believe in that what we need to do in education is go to the full voucher system"

    But that was in 1995. Comprehensive evidence for the failure of school vouchers only began to fully emerge around 2001.

    So who could blame Jobs for believing what he believed in '95? At that point, surveys from parents with children using vouchers were reporting 'satisfaction' .. it wasn't until later that researchers began to examine the actual academic achievement in the core subjects that they found the deficiencies.

    In the same 1995 interview, Jobs said that "unions were the worst thing that ever happened to education because it's not a meritocracy"

    Again, that was 1995 and the conjecture seemed plausible.

    It wasn't until 2000 that the Harvard Education Review found that states with teacher unions actually produced students with higher SAT scores, by an average of about 50 points.

    It's 2011 and more accurate information is available: vouchers simply do not work, no matter how good they sound, and unionized states have measurably higher academic achievement, no matter how bad that might make some privatization fundamentals feel.

    Resurrecting quotes from 1995, if repeated without context, will merely set us 16 years back in time.

  • What exactly is your point, Alex?
    - "Educators and parents love their Apple products, but what did Steve Jobs do for education, really?"
    I love cafeteria cookies, but how does it follow that the people who sell them to me have some extraordinary obligations to the school system? Isn't that the logic that got After School Matters in trouble?
    Jobs could have had many theories on educational funding and the teaching profession, some of which could indeed have been erroneous, disproved and harmful. He, however :::did not act on them:::.
    You want me to be grateful to Gates for the mess into which he has led the educational system? To what extent have his 'funding' brainchilds not only reinforced but compounded the 'bake sale' mentality of education-as-pet-charity? How is his misguided support of charter schools, decimating and cheapening the profession as it has, to be held in greater regard than Jobs stepping back and sticking to what he is good at?
    I read long ago, that when Jobs acknowledged his first daughter and offered her his support, he put her in a small private school, which had no computers at all, and declared that computers were not the silver bullet which would cure the problems of public education. In other words, having little of value in his area of expertise to offer, he stayed out of it.
    Only the asinine "Ivy League B-school education cures all" mentality, which has finally been exposed for the fraud that it is (like the way it 'cured' Wall Street , FEMA, the war on terror and the banking industry?) would come to that conclusion.
    It makes it so easy for the wealthy to gut the school system by -
    - declaring that only the business model can save it,
    - taking over the school systems so they can staff them with the dregs of the business industry - has-beens and never-weres, and
    - in the culminating slap in the face, using the government to pay for those b-school educations via Teach for America. ::::That's::: the reason those mopes only stay for 2 years. That's the extent of the loan forgiveness. The rich are using the school system as their own personal scholarship fund and domestic 'peace corps' . Their offspring can stay home, don't have to learn another language, still post FB pics of themselves getting sh*t-faced on the weekends with their friends, get a salary and a free masters' AND - go around acting like they should be nominated for sainthood - or public office.
    Wow. Thanks, Bill Gates. Steve Jobs can't hold a candle to you.

  • Financing Education 101
    Education is big big business...

    I don't know what Bill Gates ever did 'for' public education
    I know what he took - a whole bunch of money!

    What he has 'given' through his foundation is nothing compared to what he has made with Microsoft, Federal, State and Local government software and support sales -

    well you judge for yourself - read this Danny Westneat article from The Seattle Times at

    or read this from the Washington Policy Watch

    and judge for yourself how much Mr. Gates has done 'for' education

  • Rahm and Brizard get an F! Steve Jobs would say one needs to FOCUS on the mission of the organization and NOT be distracted by efforts that pass themselves off as fluff or initiatives that are going nowhere. Clark Street is a mess! People thought Huberman was bad both in Clark St and outside. Brizard is a public relations ham. Where is the beef? Brizard and Rahm don't want the public to know the total mess that is the "leadership" on Clark St. ALEX REPORT THAT! You must have sources inside. Now we have one public relation stunt after another. The Emperor has no clothes Chicago. Can't defend a leadership that does not follow any successful modern model of schooling.

  • Dear viniciusgm, you are right!

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