Freedom Foundation’s Anti-Teacher Editorials Lack Credibility

Recently, a number of Washington newspapers have published anti-teacher editorials by the Freedom Foundation’s Jami Lund. The glaring omission in all of Lund’s editorials is context: There is no mention that the Freedom Foundation is a far-right political group focused on defunding unions so they can elect conservative candidates.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported in its exposé on the Bradley Foundation, the Freedom Foundation is funded by out-of-state billionaires who are trying to enact a far-right agenda, including privatizing our education system and gutting the pension system. These people have exactly zero credibility when it comes to educators and our public schools.

Just look at what has happened in states like Wisconsin, where organizations like the Freedom Foundation have had a head start: the Bradley Foundation takes credit for creating the infrastructure that led to the first private school voucher program in the United States. That infrastructure helped elect Governor Scott Walker, who implemented policies that eliminated educators’ collective voice and enacted the largest cut in education funding in state history. The Freedom Foundation has promised to do much the same here in Washington and Oregon.

But we don’t even need to look at states like Wisconsin and Michigan, where the Freedom Foundation’s compatriots have muzzled the voices of teachers, front-line public safety personnel and other workers. We can simply look at the Freedom Foundation’s work priorities here in the Pacific Northwest. The Freedom Foundation recently spent hundreds of thousands of dollars working with a phony front group called the Pacific Northwest Childcare Workers Association to try and trick home health care workers into decertifying their own union, even reportedly stooping to impersonating union personnel. They spent a similar amount of money to try to stop SEIU 503 in Oregon from enacting an administrative change that protects workers by keeping their personal information private.

This same far-right political group is fighting tooth-and-nail against polices that will benefit people across the state, especially women. They recently fought to defeat bills in the Washington legislature that would allow state employees to donate their leave to coworkers who become “sick or temporarily disabled because of pregnancy and/or childbirth” or who can’t afford to stay at home to “bond with their newborn, adoptive, or foster child.” That’s right, the Freedom Foundation doesn’t think that public employees should have the freedom to donate their leave to their new mother coworkers, who are often forced back to work early because they can’t afford to be unpaid.

The Freedom Foundation isn’t just fighting to prevent teachers, police officers and other workers from joining together to ensure they have a voice in their workplace. They’re also fighting against policies that will benefit all workers. They have opposed raising the minimum wage and requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. They’ve even invited Andy Puzder, Donald Trump’s first choice for Labor Secretary — a man accused of illegally withholding his workers’ pay and forcing them to work off-the-clock — to speak to their upcoming annual fundraisers.

When it comes to teachers and education policy, Jami Lund and the far-right political group the Freedom Foundation simply have no credibility. Instead, we should be listening to the collective voice of educators across this state who disagree with everything the Freedom Foundation supports.