What Does the Mackinac Center Recommend?

Education is one of the most important issues confronting our state and its citizens. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy would like nothing more than to work with the Michigan Education Association for positive, genuine education reforms that provide greater opportunity for an excellent education for all students.

The MEA started out as a professional teachers association. It sponsored programs to help train teachers to be more effective educators and to build respect for their honorable and vital profession. This is a much needed function, and one that has, unfortunately, taken a back seat to a union-first agenda. While giving lip service to reform, the MEA works both overtly and covertly to promote union interests first, which are often at odds with what is best for students, parents, and teachers.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy recommends the following:

  1. The MEA should return to its honorable beginnings as a professional teachers association by making teacher training and development its number one priority. It should immediately cease all activities which injure the reputation of its teacher-members, or which enhance union finances at the expense of the best interests of teachers, parents, and students.

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  2. The MEA should listen to its teacher-members and focus on the issues they feel are important. Such issues might include more in-school planning time, less isolation/more peer contact, and safer work environments. Teachers know better than anyone the challenges they face in the classroom and what equipment, policies, training, and personnel they need to accomplish their mission. These suggestions should be listened to, respected, and acted upon as the first order of business.

  3. Since the MEA uses outsourcing as a means to control its organizational costs, it should end its opposition to school districts using privatization to provide more resources to the classroom.

  4. The MEA should end its attack on supporters of educational choice, and consider the advantages such systemic reforms will bring to students, teachers, and parents, even if those reforms may have an adverse effect on union membership and finances.

  5. The MEA should end its practice of interfering with administrators who seek to discharge clearly unqualified employees.

  6. The MEA should not attack as "racist," "extremist," or "right-wing" those parents, teachers, and organizations who disagree with MEA policies. The MEA should engage in a public debate on the objective merits of each issue, without personally demeaning those who are sincerely working to improve education.

  7. The MEA should seek to become more representative of the public school employees it purports to represent.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy fully supports public school employees’ ability to join a labor union and present their concerns to school administrators. However, the Mackinac Center does not support compulsory unionism, monopoly representation, or mandatory bargaining. Where employees are forced to join or financially support a labor union, or forced to be represented by it, union leaders lack accountability to member and non-member employees. This lack of accountability results in a union out of touch with its membership and able to engage in irresponsible and counterproductive activities.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy urges the MEA to stop supporting forced unionism, and begin working for a free market in labor representation whereby a union must earn the support of its members free of coercion. The Mackinac Center urges MEA members to return their union to a professional teacher association. The Center also urges teachers who object to the MEA’s use of their dues to advance a political agenda to resign from the union and request a refund for that portion of their dues.