NBC's Kevin Tibbles Seems More Concerned About Political Repercussions of Teacher Strike Than Impact on Students, Parents
Throughout its morning and afternoon news coverage today, MSNBC has dealt with the hours-old teachers strike in Chicago. NBC reporter Kevin Tibbles did a few standups next to a picket line "outside the Ray Elementary School in Chicago." During his 11:40 a.m. Eastern live report, Tibbles interviewed a union teacher, John Cusick, who said he'd heard from parents, "mostly" who "support us" because "they know we care for their children" and "have their children's best interest at heart."
Immediately after Cusick said that, rather than express skepticism, Tibbles seemed concerned about how the strike could hurt President Obama and the Democrats come November's election:
Now, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and this is a big test of his young leadership here in the city of Chicago, they are very interested in having the labor vote behind them come this November's election with regards to President Barack Obama. Do you think that what Mayor Emanuel said last night that this was not a money issue and that this is a strike by choice is correct. Would you agree with the way he said that?
Two hours later, when Andrea Mitchell checked in, Tibbles again noted that it was not "good optics" to "have [Emanuel] in the middle of a labor dispute so close to the election."
Yet in none of his check-ins with MSNBC anchors did Tibbles interview or air taped footage of a parent expression frustration at having a teachers strike keeping his/her kid out of school.
It's not like there weren't any to be found, either. Reports CBS's affiliate in the Windy City (emphasis mine):
Parents of public school students were feeling mixed emotions as they sent kids to half-day programs at scores of Chicago Public Schools sites on Monday during the teachers’ strike, while others were confused when they learned teachers had walked off the job.
WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, around 7:30 a.m., parents started showing up at Robert Healy Elementary School, at 3010 S. Parnell Av., for what they thought was to be a normal school day. Many of the parents are Chinese immigrants, and had a hard time understanding that the Chicago Teachers Union has gone on strike.
Ten-year-old Michael Lin tried several times to explain the situation to his father in Chinese.
“My dad said he did not know,” Lin said. “He just wanted to ask why the teacher is on strike.”
Parents were faced with the choice of crossing the picket line to drop off their kids, or turn around to find something else to do with their children.
Yahu Vinayaraj decided not to drop his kids off for a half-day.
“There’ll be no formal teaching classes this week, so I don’t want to keep my children here. … so I’m taking them back to home,” he said.
Fellow parent Courtney Rolling said he was upset at the effect the strike was having on his son’s education.
“I’m mad that he had to come here and his learning is getting disrupted,” he said.
Parent Ola Esho said he felt his son and his 1-year-old daughter felt a bit intimidated having to pass through the crowd of protesting teachers to get to the half-day program at Ray Elementary.
“I think it was a little bit unnerving for both of them, yeah. I wasn’t happy about that,” Esho said.
Tibbles insisted in a 9:40 a.m. Eastern standup that "money doesn't really seem to be the issue" in the strike. Of course, Tibbles failed to inform his viewers just how much Chicago teachers get paid, on average, or that their benefits package is already quite generous. From John Fund's piece at NRO today (emphasis mine):
The money has continued to pour into Chicago’s failing public schools in recent years. Chicago teachers have the highest average salary of any city at $76,000 a year before benefits. The average family in the city only earns $47,000 a year. Yet the teachers rejected a 16 percent salary increase over four years at a time when most families are not getting any raises or are looking for work.
The city is being bled dry by the exorbitant benefits packages negotiated by previous elected officials. Teachers pay only 3 percent of their health-care costs and out of every new dollar set aside for public education in Illinois in the last five years, a full 71 cents has gone to teacher retirement costs.