The outspoken president of the Delaware State Education Association, Mike Matthews, resigned last night after coming under fire for racist and sexist comments posted on his blog over a decade ago.
The posts, which were first reported by the television station WHYY Delaware, included sexual remarks about female state politicians and derogatory comments against Muslims and Asians. Many were published in 2005 and 2006 on Matthews’ former blog, Down with Absolutes. Matthews took down the blog in 2009.
“Regardless of the fact that these posts were created prior to Mr. Matthews becoming an educator and member of DSEA, they were completely inappropriate and contrary to the views or values of the educators who make up the DSEA,” said a statement issued by the teachers’ union, according to Delaware Online.
Matthews, whose three-year term as president was set to expire in 2020, offered his resignation to the union’s executive board at a meeting intended to discuss the blog posts. Board members, who had the power to remove Matthews from office, accepted it.
Matthews wrote in a October 2005 post that “blowing all the Muslims up” might not be such a bad idea. In February 2006, he called then-Gov. Ruth Ann Minner a “Butch Bitch,” and asked whether a video of “chocolate, caramel and vanilla brothas” gang-raping Minner would boost her showing in the polls.
WHYY reported that Matthews wrote extensively about state Rep. Helene Keeley, who was the House Minority Whip at the time. He mentioned her “hot feminist booty” and said she “is ready to serve her constituents and the citizens of Delaware in many salacious ways.”
He wrote many other sexual posts about notable women, and once wrote that U.S. Senate contender Jan Ting, who is the son of Chinese immigrants, would “fry your wonton.”
When contacted by WHYY, Matthews apologized for the posts, citing his young age at the time of writing them.
“I would apologize to anyone not just for being offended, but for the words I said,” Matthews said.
“Looking back in hindsight they were the words of a 22-year-old man finding his way in the world, looking for an audience. Age is not an excuse and I take full ownership for that ... I like to think that I’ve evolved over the years in the way that I’ve developed as a professional.”
He hasn’t commented publicly since his resignation. Matthews is well-known in the state for his outspoken advocacy. He was a vocal critic of then-Gov. Jack Markell’s education reform plan, and frequently weighs in on local and national politics on his Twitter feed.
Keely, who was the subject of many sexual remarks made by Matthews, told WHYY she didn’t take those comments too seriously at the time, because she knew Matthews is gay. Matthews is married to a man.
Still, many advocates in the state told WHYY that Matthews shouldn’t get a pass, especially as he’s leading a union that represents a predominately female profession.
“This type of language treats women as if all that matters is their looks and body,” said Atnreakn Alleyne, who runs an educational nonprofit in the state. “To be leading the teachers union in Delaware where the overwhelming majority of teachers are women, I just think that’s hypocrisy at the highest level.”
Stephanie Ingram, the DSEA vice president, will take charge of the teachers’ union until the presidential term expires July 2020.
Image of Matthews via DSEA.org
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.