EAST LANSING, Mich. — The new head of the Michigan Education Association says  the union became involved in a recall effort against a sitting legislator because voters are frustrated with public school funding and taxes, while a teacher and former local union president says teachers are frustrated with union spending on recalls, according to separate media reports.

Speaking on the public television show “Off the Record,” MEA President Steven Cook said the MEA paid $25,000 toward a recall effort against House Education Committee Chairman Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, because polling showed voters in Scott’s district are upset over the elimination of a pension tax deduction and public school funding levels, the Lansing State Journal reported.

Cook also expressed frustration with a new “right-to-teach” proposal, under which educators would not be required to join a union or support it financially, as is the case today, the Journal reported.

In a separate report, a Grand Ledge teacher and former local union president told Michigan Capitol Confidential that he finds the education reform legislation “despicable,” but that many teachers likely would leave the MEA given the chance.

John Ellsworth told Capitol Confidential that he estimated between 10 and 40 percent of teachers would opt out of the MEA because they do not feel their union dues are well spent.

The Journal reported that Gov. Rick Snyder’s spokeswoman, Sara Wurfel, said that the governor is unlikely to back the right-to-teach proposal.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which also publishes Michigan Education Digest.


Lansing State Journal, “Michigan Education Association chief says GOP angering many voters,” Sept. 17, 2011

Lansing State Journal, “Right to work for teachers on agenda,” Sept. 10, 2011


Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Former MEA Local Prez: Union May Lose 40% of Members — Including Him — if Teacher Right to Work Passes,” Sept. 14, 2011