Kyle Olson
Respect is earned, not demanded, unless of course you’re Al Capone. That apparently is a difficult concept for the Michigan Education Association to grasp.

Last week, Michigan teachers appeared at a state board of education meeting to vent their anger at a series of proposed education reforms. Like several other states, Michigan legislators are debating a host of sweeping reforms to get Michigan public schools on a better financial and academic footing.

A Grand Rapids high school teacher told the state board, “I feel like I’m the gum on the bottom of everyone’s shoe,” according to the Grand Rapids Press.

Perhaps he would gain a little more sympathy if two days prior, his union, the MEA, didn’t have a dunk tank on its lawn with a Gov. Rick Snyder look-alike. See the exclusive video provided to EAGtv here.

It is hard to respect an organization that stages such a tacky display. If the union wants to be taken seriously, it should engage in a serious debate. Instead, it’s resorting to childish antics that do nothing to elevate the debate.

During the entire legislative session, that has been the modus operandi for the union. It’s staged protest after protest, to the point that the largest newspapers in the state

aren’t even covering them anymore. And perhaps even worse for the union, is for all its bluster, it’s failed to stop a single piece of reform legislation.

This is all the more reason it’s an absolute crime that Michigan teachers are forced to pay hundreds of dollars in dues to an organization that is totally ineffective. It would serve Michigan legislators well to reconsider that requirement as they pursue other reforms.

The union continues to take the lead for the opposition.

“Jenison teacher Rich Fink said that if salary is linked to student performance, there is no incentive for him to take on those who are struggling,” the article reads.

The delightfully named Fink is a former president of his local union. His attitude is typical of union leaders. Thankfully, it’s the polar opposite of that of charter school and private school teachers. They relish the chance to challenge and grow all children.

People like Fink do not earn respect because they draw the line in the sand. There is no can-do attitude. There is a belief that some students just can’t learn, despite the evidence coming out of charter schools.

By opposing reform at every turn, and staging childish stunts like dunk tanks, unions show those that defend the status quo will never get it. Their interests come first. That’s unacceptable at a time when student interests have to be top priority.

Kyle Olson

Kyle is founder of Education Action Group and, a news service dedicated to education reform and school spending research, reporting, analysis and commentary.

He is co-author of Glenn Beck’s “Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education,” available at

Kyle is a contributor to

He has made appearances on the Fox News Channel, The Blaze, Fox Business Network, NPR and MSNBC. Kyle has given scores of interviews on talk radio programs coast to coast.

Kyle likes talking about his family, as well as his favorite music. Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young and Johnny Cash are at the top of the list. He has attended 25 Bob Dylan shows.

Kyle can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.