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UTLA, AFT demand apology for ‘misleading’ Time magazine cover

Craig Clough | October 27, 2014

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Time magazineTime magazine is in hot water with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and other teacher unions over what they say is an unfair and misleading cover.

On its Facebook page, UTLA posted a link to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) online petition that calls for Time to “apologize to America’s teachers for the misleading and hyperbolic attack on your November 3 cover.”

The cover in question is for a story about the impact of Vergara v. California, the case in which a judge earlier this year struck down California’s decades-old laws regarding teacher tenure, firings and layoffs.

The Time article, which features a gavel about to smash an apple on the cover, is headlined, “Rotten Apples: It’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher; some tech millionaires may have found a way to change that,” and is a look at the history of the case and the wealthy group of tech executives who have helped support it. The article has been available online since Friday and is scheduled to hit news stands in print form on Nov. 3.

But it is not the article that the AFT finds fault with. It’s the cover, which the AFT says “is particularly disappointing because the articles inside the magazine present a much more balanced view of the issue. But for millions of Americans, all they’ll see is the cover and a misleading attack on teachers.”

So far, over 60,000 people have signed the petition, according to the AFT’s Facebook page. The AFT has over 1.5 million members.

AFT President Randi Weingarten also posted a response to the story on Time’s website, saying, “America’s teachers aren’t rotten apples, as Time’s cover suggests, that need to be smashed by Silicon Valley millionaires with no experience in education.”

Teacher unions in California and nationally have lined up against the Vergara ruling. The defendants — the state, the California Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association — have appealed the ruling, which will not set any precedent until an appeals court rules on the case.

The anger over the cover also caught the attention of the Washington Post, which pointed out it is not the first time Time has enraged teacher unions with a cover.

In 2008, its cover also drew condemnation from teacher unions when it showed then-D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee standing in a classroom while holding a broom, with the headline, “How To Fix America’s Schools” and a subhead, “Michelle Rhee is the head of Washington, D.C., schools. Her battle against bad teachers has earned her admirers and enemies — and could transform public education.”

Her efforts in D.C. ended in 2010, when she resigned.

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