The Michigan Education Association (MEA), a labor union representing more than 157,000 teachers, faculty and education support staff throughout the state, announced Wednesday that its former president, Steven Cook, passed away this week.
Cook was 63 and passed away from a non-COVID-19 illness.
He was the longest-serving officer of any National Education Association (NEA) state affiliate. He also was the first education support professional to serve as MEA’s president and held that position from 2011 until 2017.
Prior to that, Cook served as the MEA’s vice president and secretary-treasurer, totaling 26 years of leadership of MEA and Michigan’s educators. Before working for the MEA, Cook was the president of the Lansing Educational Assistants and a community-school liaison for Lansing Public Schools.
Current MEA President Paula Herbart said Cook was a resolute leader who always stood up for what he believed was right for school employees and students.
“His loyalty to his union,” Herbart said, “and to those lucky enough to call him a friend was his trademark.”
State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) said Cook “believed in the mission of public education, and he knew the best way to educate children was to empower their educators. When I was a teacher in the classroom, I always knew that Steve had my back and was fighting to make sure educators were supported and organized together.”