‘Armed with knowledge’: National conference empowers teachers to stand up to unions

Around 200 educators attended the Teacher Freedom Summit last week, a “first-of-its-kind” conference to help public school teachers understand and stand up to the unions that claim to support…

Around 200 educators attended the Teacher Freedom Summit last week, a “first-of-its-kind” conference to help public school teachers understand and stand up to the unions that claim to support them.

“Teachers’ unions have closed our schools, pushed CRT (critical race theory) on our children, and diverted millions of dollars of dues money to their radical agenda,” said Eloise Smith, director of teacher engagement for the Freedom Foundation, which hosted the event in Denver, Colorado.

The conference gave teachers the tools to “remove union politics from our schools to protect our children’s future,” Smith said.

Freedom Foundation VP of Communications Ashley Varner tells The Lion the event accomplished its goal.  

“Our first-ever Teacher Freedom Summit was a great success,” Varner said. “Despite travel issues that affected some registered teachers from attending, we had nearly 200 participating teachers from 26 states and saw new friendships and connections being formed between like-minded educators from across the country.”

The conference informed teachers of their rights under Janus v. AFSCME, in which the Supreme Court ruled that non-union public employees cannot be required to pay union fees as a condition to work. 

It also taught teachers how to fight for their curriculum by pushing back against CRT and sexually explicit material. There were also breakout sessions based on grade level to “discuss issues relevant to classrooms.”

Freedom Foundation has made it easy for teachers wishing to leave their union to do so, through OptOutToday.com.  

“Unions are the financial backbone and the architects of the radical left, and this strategy is why nearly 20 percent of this state’s school districts are knowingly and openly pushing radical content on young people in public classrooms,” the Freedom Foundation’s Ohio office said on the organization’s website. 

The nation’s largest teachers’ union, the National Education Association (NEA), had 2,871,908 members in 2022, a decrease from 2,909,690 from 2021, according to Union Facts. It also collected around $375 million from union dues, according to the 74 Million, a nonprofit news organization covering education. 

The dues are typically collecticted automatically from teacher paychecks. For example, the United Teachers Los Angeles charges $93.58 per month in dues, according to OptOutToday.com. Those district teachers have also gone on strike twice since 2019, leading to major disruptions for students. The Los Angeles district was also one of the last to resume in-person classes, the LAist reported. 

Some speakers at the Teacher Freedom Summit included former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters, school choice advocate Corey DeAngelis, Mark Janus, who was the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME, and parental rights activist Nicole Solas. 

“The Teacher Freedom Summit educated hundreds of teachers about the teachers unions’ radical political agenda to indoctrinate and sexualize children, deceive parents, and exploit teachers,” Solas told The Lion. 

Now these teachers are “armed with knowledge,” she added, and can “leave the union, sue the union, and expose the union. 

“As a parent who was sued by the union, I assured teachers that they are supported by parents and offered practical tactics to fight back against the greatest threat to American education: the teachers union,” she concluded.