Time Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs defended an article critiquing teachers' unions, saying that "the people who are most upset by bad teachers are good teachers."
The article, which bears the cover title "Rotten Apples: It's Nearly Impossible to Fire a Bad Teacher," prompted outrage from teachers unions and protesters who said it insults all teachers.
"If you're a great third grade teacher and you've brought your class along and lit them on fire with the love of learning, and then you turn them over to an ineffective teacher and you watch that be lost," Gibbs said on Thursday's Morning Joe. "That is heartbreaking."
MSNBC political analyst John Heilemann said the broad-ranging backlash was a result of teachers' unions seeking to maintain the status quo.
"The only way they can maintain the status quo is to turn every critique–no matter how nuanced–every critique is an attack on all teachers. They do this all the time," Heilemann said. "It kind of undermines the credibility of those within the status quo who say they're open to reform, because what they do is they just attack anyone who makes any criticism whatsoever as being a hater of teachers. It makes me crazy."
Gibbs said the article was meant to open a discussion about how American education policy is made.
"A lot of people think our politics–locally, nationally–are broken. And some of them are now going to the courts to try to accomplish in courts what is not happening in legislatures and politically," Gibbs said. "You can agree with this judge's ruling; you can disagree with it, but it has huge implications and we ought to be talking about: Is this the way we want to be making policy?"