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The Press cites “Watchdog” in criticism of MEA

December 8, 2010

Today, Press education reporter Dave Murray wrote a story for MLive entitled, “Watchdog group says MEA executive earning nearly $300,000 is out of touch with teachers.”

The article is based on a Press Release from a Muskegon-based group called the Education Action Group (EAG), which is calling out the Michigan Education Association’s President and other staff are making too much money.

The Press article does provide a response from the MEA, which says, “Our people are leading a huge, multi-million dollar operation, one of the largest unions in the state, and are compensated accordingly.”

However, the bulk of the article is commentary from EAG director Kyle Olsen. Olsen’s comments are not just critical of MEA staff salaries, but the overall cost of unionized teachers in general in the state of Michigan. This would not be much of a revelation to Press readers if the reporter had bothered to provide some background information on the EAG and its founder Kyle Olsen.

Kyle Olsen has appeared on Fox News numerous times in recent months and has also been a guest on the shows of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Olsen is also the editor of the online source Public School Spending, which is a clearinghouse for information critical of education unions across the country.

On Olsen’s personal blog he also has links to ATF Exposed, a site dedicated to criticizing the American Federation of Teachers union and NEA Exposed, which slams the National Education Association. Along with these links, Olsen’s blog and the Education Action Group site all have very similar content to the anti-union consultant Rick Berman’s Teacher’s Union Exposed. While there is no evidence that these anti-union forces have any relationship, they certainly share the same perspective and use many of the same anti-union talking points.

If the Grand Rapids Press is going to use the term Watchdog when referring to EAG and Kyle Olsen, they need to qualify what that means and provide readers more information on efforts to discredit the Michigan Teachers union.

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