MEA Voice
The MEA endorsed virtually all Democrats in 2010, despite many teachers identifying themselves as “conservative.”

The Michigan Education Association’s October magazine notes a large percentage of teachers nationwide that consider themselves “conservative.”

It stated that a 2005-06 National Education Association survey found 45 percent of teachers under 30 classified themselves as conservative and 63 percent of teachers age 40 to 49 classified themselves as conservative. The MEA represents more than 157,000 teachers, faculty and education support staff.

Yet, in the same magazine, the MEA released its recommendations for political candidates and recommended 111 Democrats in 114 races. The only three GOP candidates to receive a recommendation were:

  • State Sen. Roger Kahn of Saginaw, who is running for re-election
  • State House candidate Mike Callton of Nashville
  • State House candidate Peter MacGregor of Rockford

The overwhelmingly Democratic recommendations come at time when NEA president Dennis Van Roekel is preaching a message of non-partisanship.

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Writing recently in the Washington D.C. newspaper “The Hill,” Van Roekel said: “Fundamental and transformative changes in education can only succeed if educators, policymakers and communities work together to meet the enormous challenges we face, including the fact that one out of five children in this country now lives in poverty. Transforming public schools is not and should not be a partisan issue.”

MEA President Iris Salters said local committees do the endorsements in each of the districts.

“What they try to do is identify the person that best will support public education and school employees,” Salters said. “We try not to make a judgment on any group. We judge based on the individual.”

State House Representative Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, who the MEA has not endorsed, said it was “clear the MEA is very partisan.”

“Most Democrats are the only ones who have proved themselves to not mind locking kids in failing schools as long as adults get pay raises and Cadillac benefits,” McMillin wrote in an e-mail. “Very few Republicans can tolerate these bad priorities and turn their backs on kids...and those that do, would likely not survive a primary.”

The original version of this story was posted online on Oct. 18, 2010.

Please see also Teacher Union Doubles Republican Count on Recommendation List.

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Terry Bowman has been a UAW worker at Ford Motor Company for 19 years. He explains why he is leaving the union under Michigan's right-to-work law.

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