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From the Lefthand Corner: Give 'MEA' misnomer a proper burial

Again this year, the biggest newspaper in the state published - and headlined several times - last weekend as "MEA weekend." Radio and television did the same.

That has been going on for almost 20 years all across the state. It should and could stop anytime soon.

The proper name in Minnesota is - and has been since 2000 - Education Minnesota, with its over 70,000 members and more thousand retirees. It has not been MEA weekend since 1997.

Historically, the long and longer existing Minnesota Education Association and Minnesota Federation of Teachers had been representing teacher units across the state. There were more MEA groups, particularly in rural areas, which included administration people who often dominated the local MEA groups. There were fewer, but mostly larger MFT groups in the larger metro areas in the state.

The two rival groups recognized that in too many cases, with almost singular purpose, their organizations were working against each other, duplicating and wasting efforts in the quest of the same goals.

For some years, merger efforts emerged and grew. In 1997, statewide merger was agreed upon and enacted in 1998, and the result was named MEA-MFT. Originally the two existing top officers, Judy Schaubach and Sandra Peterson, were named as co-presidents. Not long after, further change occurred.

Judy continued as president; Sandra retired (and went on to become an effective suburban state legislator for several terms). The name was changed to Education Minnesota in 2000, and has remained so ever since.

That seems more than long enough for the rest of us to recognize that in the state of Minnesota, its teachers are represented by Education Minnesota. That seems more than long enough for the rest of Minnesota to discuss, acknowledge and publicize an October weekend as Education Minnesota weekend and no longer mistakenly as "MEA" weekend.

I hope our local area classroom teachers are back in their classrooms this week, feeling refreshed from a long weekend of convention or advanced education classes, or just plain R&R. I hope they are ready to re-engage in their challenging K-12 jobs, which are among the most important in our existing society.

For years, I've recognized and welcomed this Echo Journal as exception to the existing trend in our overall "news" reporting. It is one of few last bastion of good journalism. It reports news. It doesn't run around "making" the news. It sends real, live reporters to directly attend and report what happens at our area local government meetings and related government functions and actions.

I hope this Echo Journal starts a trend in the right direction, for this area at least, in correcting the continual reporting of erroneous fact. It can do so by simply hereafter refraining from using "MEA" and instead using Education Minnesota.

It is no big deal to most Minnesotans. It may not be a very big deal to some teachers. But, it is to some.

To those particularly, we all share an obligation to be accurate - and show courtesy by being accurate - in reference to their chosen representative organization as Education Minnesota.

While we're at it, we might toss in continued appreciation for their choice of profession.

Let's all agree to acknowledge and refer to it as Education Minnesota and Education Minnesota weekend from now on.

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