Michigan Education Association

MEA response to insensitive and undemocratic comments by MASB Executive Director Kathy Hayes

EAST LANSING, Mich., March 5, 2009 – This afternoon, MEA Director of Communications Doug Pratt responded (via an e-mail to Grand Rapids Press reporter Dave Murray) to several reprehensible comments from Kathy Hayes, executive director of the Michigan Association of School Boards:

"Ms. Hayes’ comments about “the right people” voting in school board elections are reprehensible. As taxpayers in a democracy, we’re all “the right people.” Should we institute a test that people need to pass before voting? What about a poll tax? This country passed laws years ago to ensure everyone had a right to vote – Ms. Hayes should publicly apologize for her insensitive comments, which more than smack of racism.

"She should also apologize for demeaning the voters’ ability to make decisions about financial matters. In this economic crisis, everyone in this state is acutely aware of tough financial decisions – made with either their checkbook or their ballot. She should have respect for Michigan’s citizens who exercise their right to vote and their ability to weigh the complex needs of our state.

"Speaking of rights, Hayes bemoans MEA’s involvement in the democratic process. Setting aside the fact that MEA members – as taxpayers – have a right to make their voices heard under the Constitution of the United States, we are helping to do EXACTLY what she wants – helping voters make educated decisions. MEA members across this state get involved in school board campaigns because they want to inform voters about what’s really happening in our public schools. No one knows better what students need than the professional educators who have dedicated their lives to serving students. We want voters to be well informed on the issues and select candidates who will make the right choices about investing in the future of our students and our economy.

"In fact, while Hayes was spending time badmouthing us at this interview, MEA was successfully advocating in Lansing on behalf of the Wayne-Westland school district – where a long, contentious contract negotiation was recently settled – to ensure they and other districts have the resources necessary for students to excel.

"If Hayes’ opinions are truly those of the Michigan Association of School Boards, districts ought to consider better use of the thousands of dollars per year in taxpayer funds they’re sending to an organization that is clearly hostile to taxpayers."

Doug Pratt
MEA Director of Communications


Several other voter rights group joined in that call for an apology through a press release.

 “The mission of the MEA is to ensure that the education of our students and the working environments of our members are of the highest quality.”

Updated: March 9, 2009 3:12 PM