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Policy: Labor

Teachers unions get Discovery Communications to cancel 'Bad Teacher' show

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Education,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,Media,Television,Teachers Unions,American Federation of Teachers

After a pressure campaign by teachers unions, Discovery Communications has knuckled under and canceled the program "Bad Teacher." The true-crime series, which examined cases where teachers became sexually involved with their students, aired its only episode on the company's Investigation Discovery network last week.

Steve Dembo, director of social media for the company's Discovery Education website, said in a statement Tuesday to the "millions of dedicated professionals" in education that "we share your concerns" with the program.

"We appreciate the support of the educational community for bringing [their objections to the show] to our attention and we are pleased to share that Discovery Communications has decided to immediately cancel this program, removing it from ID's on-air and online schedule," Dembo said.

The National Education Association touted the news of the cancellation, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten celebrated it:

I was surprised to learn, through a barrage of tweets Sunday night after "Bad Teacher" aired, that Discovery would use its brand to promote such an offensive program. However, I am heartened that it has taken steps to cancel the show and publicly affirm that Discovery Education's mission is to celebrate and support educators.

Every day, educators go into the classroom to make a difference in the lives of our children. Their work should be honored and valued, not bashed, and we hope to work with Discovery to showcase the real work teachers do every day to help kids achieve their dreams.

The network presumably feared that a backlash from the unions would hurt sales of the many educational products that it provides to schools.

The incident provides an interesting contrast to the controversy last year when conservative donors David and Charles Koch were accused of pressuring PBS over a documentary critical of them, even though they apparently had no direct involvement in the PBS executives' decisions.

CLARIFICATION: The post has been updated to clarify that the cancellation was by Discovery Communications, the parent company of the Discovery Channel, and not the Discovery Channel itself. This story was originally published at 12:33 p.m. on May 1, 2014.

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