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Fair and Balanced?: Union Dominates Local TV “Waiting for Superman” Panel

Look, I’m going to admit up front that little Eddie isn’t inherently balanced, not when it comes to discussions education issues anyway. I have a point of view. It’s no secret. I try to back up my arguments with evidence as much as I can, but in the end I have some pretty strong beliefs of which I also try to persuade my readers.

But then again, I’m not a public affairs television program on PBS. If I were, then maybe you could add Studio Eddie to your regular boob tube viewing routine. Instead, PBS viewers last week were treated to this hour-long Studio 12 panel discussion, inspired by the new film Waiting for Superman, about current, pressing education issues:

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Watch the full episode. See more Studio 12.

On the four-member panel were:

  • Beverly Ingle, president of the Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union;
  • State Sen. Evie Hudak, one of the teachers union’s most reliable and outspoken allies in the state legislature;
  • A union teacher from a Denver school; and
  • Dusty Teng, who does great work locally in high school dropout prevention at the I Have a Dream Foundation.

With the exception of a brief pre-recorded non-controversial clip of State Sen. Michael Johnston and the comments of Ms. Teng — most of whose few opportunities to speak were to answer specific questions about her organization — the show might as well have been the Amen Corner for union talking points on everything from teacher job protections to public charter schools. Even sadder, most of the phone-in and email questions from viewers came with such pro-union, anti-reform assumptions that the panelists were allowed to look moderate by contrast without being seriously challenged.

If this episode of Studio 12 had been touted as the union’s response to Waiting for Superman, then at least it would have been clear to the uninitiated viewer what was going on. If you watch the video and want to get your sense of balance restored, I urge you to check out not only the Waiting for Superman site (and go see the movie!) and the local Colorado Kids Can’t Wait site, but also the thought-provoking, research-based work of my friends in the Education Policy Center.