A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

The National Education Association has helped fund the Michigan Education Association’s media campaigns more than any of the national union’s other state affiliates over the past two years, according to a teachers’ union watchdog group. The Education Intelligence Agency says the Michigan Education Association has received $513,000 for “media projects” from the NEA.

“Typically the grants underwrite media buys in the state that promote the union's image or decry some injustice being done to schools,” wrote Mike Antonucci, director of EIA, in an email. “If there are/were MEA TV or radio ads of this type, it's possible NEA helped pay for them.”

The MEA announced in May that it had launched statewide TV ads claiming politicians were “robbing our kids’ future” with cuts to the state’s K-12 budget. In June, the MEA announced that it had launched a statewide radio ad about tenure reform.

Antonucci said one possible explanation for the MEA being a top recipient of money from the parent organization was because the Michigan affiliate was struggling financially. According to the EIA, the MEA’s membership was 124,076 in 2009-10 — a 3.8 percent drop from just the prior year.

Last year, the National Education Association gave four states $725,000 in media funds grants. Michigan topped that list at $205,000.

So far in 2011-12, the NEA has given out $1.5 million of the $4.9 million in requests it has from state education affiliates, according to EIA. Michigan received $308,000 this year, second only to the $400,000 that the Illinois affiliate received.

Some media money could be spent on recall efforts. The MEA has also announced that it will get behind some recall efforts of politicians, including Gov. Rick Snyder.

“Rather than working cooperatively to ensure that Michigan’s kids can get the education they need and deserve and that Michigan can build a world-class educational system that celebrates great teachers and teaching, it’s disappointing to see the MEA engaging in such a divisive track like partisan recalls,” said Sara Wurfel, a spokeswoman for Snyder.

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