Michigan teachers union makes fake claim of attacks by parents
Seeking to silence school board opponents, Michigan Education Association joins national effort to demonize dissent
The Michigan Education Association attacks parents in an article on the union’s website, calling for a campaign against a “loud minority of extremists” who dissent from official policies during school board meetings.
“Parents, education advocates and several candidates for office came together during a break in the monthly State Board of Education meeting on Tuesday to speak out against organized right-wing attacks that are attempting to divide parents and educators,” according to the Sept. 14 article at MEA.org.
The article makes no effort to substantiate its claims of “organized right-wing attacks” — beyond a reference to public comment periods having been “flooded” by input from groups such as Moms for Liberty. That particular 501(c)(4) group was founded in 2021 by former school board members in Florida, and it has grown to nearly 100,000 members. The MEA applauds union members who vow to “push back” against the “vocal minority.”
The teacher union’s attack on parents follows massive failures in Michigan’s public education system. Michigan students’ proficiency in English and math fell 32% and 36%, respectively, between 2018-19 and 2020-21, according to MI School Data, and scores have only partly improved since the end of COVID restrictions. Michigan ranks near the bottom of U.S. News & World Report’s current ranking of states for education — in 38th place.
Dissenting opinions at school board meetings have become government and union targets since 2020, when COVID-related restrictions and new school curricula prompted many formerly quiet parents to begin speaking up. They started voicing concerns about what they call racially divisive and hyper-sexualized content that their children are exposed to at school.
Holt Public Schools called for affinity spaces where white students are not allowed. Saline Area Schools provide graphic sexual images in its curriculum. The Rochester Community Schools District uses ‘White Fragility’ by Robin DiAngelo in its teacher training materials. “All white people are invested in and collude with racism” DiAngelo writes, “socialized into a deeply internalized sense of superiority that we either are unaware of or can never admit to ourselves, we become highly fragile in conversations about race.”
Teacher unions in the United States are no stranger to partisan politics; they gave $6.7 million to Democrats in 2020 and $147,600 to Republicans, according to OpenSecrets.org. The MEA is endorsing and financially contributing to numerous candidates for local school boards this year.
Kim Laforet, a candidate for the Grand Ledge Public Schools Board of Education, is not one of those individuals.
“Labeling parents and some educators as ‘right-wing extremists’ for merely having a different view of how and what to teach our children is the problem we are facing,” Leforet told Michigan Capitol Confidential. “Teaching about the failings of our country, along with its successes, is imperative so that our children learn not to make the same mistakes when they are the ones governing our country. However, if they don’t have a love for our country, what can we expect in our future? A country that bans free speech?”
Laforet says that schools in the country are sexualizing children and dividing them based on race. She hopes that school boards will listen to parents when they voice concerns that children who can hardly read now have access to books with graphic depictions of sexual acts.
She notes that the MEA has lost thousands of members in recent years, saying this is because the union does not represent all teachers, despite it claims. She wants the educational system to be a place where differences co-exist, “everyone has a voice” and all are treated with respect.
The MEA did not respond to a request for comment.
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.