NYT Investigation: Union Leader NOT Satanic Beast

Readers of Saturday’s New York Times may have noticed thisthis piece (10/16/10):

Despite Image, Union Leader Backs School Change

In “Waiting for Superman,” the new education documentary, the union leader Randi Weingarten is portrayed, in the words of Variety, as “a foaming satanic beast.”

At a two-day education summit hosted by NBC News recently, the lopsided panels often featured Ms. Weingarten on one side, facing a murderer’s row of charter school founders and urban superintendents. Even Tom Brokaw piled on.

The article actually doesa pretty good of explaining how Weingarten and others in the union movement have, contrary to the message of Davis Guggenheim’s hit documentary, pushed for real reform efforts across the country. The article even points out thatone union-backed charter school in New York was left out of the film:

Yet one scene that the director filmed, but left on the cutting-room floor, showed Ms. Weingarten signing a contract on behalf of teachers at Green Dot, which has had impressive results since it opened in 2008.

Steve Barr, who founded the Green Dot charter school network, lamented that the film ignored examples of charters and unions working together. “It doesnâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t help to take the one true open-minded union leader and bash her,” he said.

All in all, it’s a pretty helpful article for understanding some of the nuances of the “reform” debate. But a better headline (though a totally unlikely one) would have been “Despite Message of Biased Media Coverage, Union Leader Backs School Change.” The truth is that it’s fairly routine for the press to bash teachers unions, as FAIR documented in this article.

“Even Tom Brokaw piled on” makes you think there’s something surprising about a major media figure bashing a teachers’ union.In reality, it’s pretty common.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.