Michigan's Crazy Drunk Uncle

Kyle Olson

3/31/2011 12:00:00 AM - Kyle Olson

The Michigan Education Association is growing more pathetic by the day. The union is beginning to act like the crazy drunk uncle at the Christmas party - spilling his drink on himself and acting rudely to the point where others are embarrassed for him.

Seemingly unable to stop any legislation that it opposes after being neutered in the last election, the union is on the floor, kicking and screaming. It’s a pretty pathetic scene to watch.

After getting rolled by legislation that would create Emergency Financial Managers in the worst municipalities and school districts, the MEA is now complaining that the legislature is taking a two week break. The masochists write to their members:

"After barely 30 days in session and no meaningful action to create jobs, legislators think they've 'earned' two weeks of paid vacation," said Glenn Freeman, president of the Greater Lansing Labor Council. "Instead of spending time working on their tans, we need our leaders to get back to work and come together to create quality jobs for Michigan workers."

That's an interesting assessment. Detroit Public Schools has a drop-out rate well above 50% and it's test scores are absolutely dismal, but employees see no problem taking three months off during the summer - but I digress...

The MEA has thus far demonstrated zero ability to stop any legislation it doesn't like. Wouldn't the union want the legislature to stay out as long as possible? Or do they truly enjoy pain and griping?

It should be noted that the union is criticizing the legislature at a time when many of its own members are on spring break. While I'm not defender of the work ethic of the Michigan legislature, for unionized teachers who are contracted to work somewhere around 180 days a year, the criticism is a bit hollow. Is this the best spit ball the union can lob? I'd hate to see the follow up. It would probably involve the word "meanies" and other metaphorical open-handed punches.

Like the kid standing next to the broken vase and pleading ignorance, the union stands idly by explaining that it hasn’t created the problem. It was those evil corporations that don't pay taxes, you see. But the reality is, according to PublicSchoolSpending.com, roughly 80 cents of every school dollar is spent on labor, and in Michigan, at least, that number is rising. So the union wants you to believe we have a "funding" problem, not a "spending" problem. The reality is, we're spending ourselves onto the verge of bankruptcy. That’s why we need "Emergency Financial Managers."

The legislature has more education and spending reform initiatives on the docket, likely increasing the number of charter schools, as well as policies that deal with unionized teachers, such as requiring employees to pay a certain percentage of their health care premiums. The union will likely flail at that one, as well, and we'll all have a good chuckle.

It's time for the MEA to sober up, take responsibility and realize it’s doing little but embarrassing itself.