Extremist Political Groups are Attacking Our Public Schools

Betsy at WPC 4
Betsy DeVos recently raised $1 million for a local anti-union political group that promotes vouchers and the privatization of public education.

Did an anti-union group email you or send you a mailing lately? Here are the facts behind these groups and their attacks on public education and our freedom to negotiate fair pay.

Since 1889, the Washington Education Association and our local unions have been representing our state’s public school employees and advocating for Washington’s public school students.

Now, extremist political groups like the Washington Policy Center and Freedom Foundation (aka, Opt Out Today) are attacking our right to be represented by our union and our ability to advocate for our students. 

The Freedom Foundation and other anti-union groups don't support us or our students — and are actually fighting against what our students need to be successful. Read this Guardian expose about their anti-worker strategy.

Here's what the Freedom Foundation's CEO Tom McCabe said in a 2017 fundraising letter: “(Unions like WEA) won’t go away until we drive the proverbial stake through their hearts and finish them off for good.”

FF men
These men are Freedom Foundation operatives working to weaken collective bargaining rights.

These groups are funded by wealthy corporate interests linked to the DeVos family and controversial Koch brothers. Their goal is to eliminate public-employee unions and to weaken our public schools. They are outspoken supporters of Betsy DeVos’s privatization agenda of charter schools and vouchers. DeVos recently raised $1 million for the Washington Policy Center, and the Freedom Foundation defends her on its website!

These DeVos supporters don't care about us, our students or public education. They only care about weakening our association. They have consistently opposed funding for smaller class sizes, better pay for educators and the freedom to negotiate a fair contract.

Standing united together, we can protect our students and our profession from these attacks.

Here is what every school employee needs to know about these groups and their attacks on educators:

  • Who and what is the Freedom Foundation?

    It's hard to believe it, but our successful advocacy for students has attracted political groups who want to stop us. Backed by wealthy corporate interests with an anti-worker and anti-public education political agenda, these enemies are increasingly attacking educators' right to union representation and our freedom to collectively bargain contracts. Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe (pictured) is one of the operatives behind these attakcs.

    They claim they’re on the side of school employees and public education, but in reality, they seek to take professional respect and bargaining rights from educators and turn over control of public education to CEOs and the corporate special interests who fund them. 

    The Freedom Foundation, Choice for Teachers, the Worker Rights Alliance, Opt Out Today, the Washington Policy Center, the Northwest Professional Educators and other anti-union groups exist to weaken us, divide us and limit our ability to speak out for students and public education. (The men pictured here work for the Freedom Foundation.)

    Click here for a partial list of the Freedom Foundation's extremist funders.

  • What are they doing?

    The Freedom Foundation is going after educators and other public workers, including home health care workers, state employees and childcare providers – the people who provide the social and health services our students and their families rely on.

    As public school employees, WEA members may be targeted by anti-worker political groups like Opt Out Today (which is a front group for the Foundation.)

    Here are some of their controversial tactics:

    • Sending spam emails & letters to WEA members’ homes and schools urging them to quit WEA and their local association.
    • Misusing workers’ personal information. The FF has requested employee names, birthdates and work emails for thousands of public employees, including educators. With names and birthdates, the FF can find home addresses and other personal information. “State workers are raising deep concern after learning a prominent anti-union group is seeking their personal information, including their birth dates, worrying it could lead to widespread privacy violations and identity theft,” KIRO radio reported.
    • Confronting workers at home by knocking on their doors and pressuring them to quit the union. A conservative group, the Freedom Foundation, has dispatched activists to visit the homes of more than 10,000 childcare and home-care workers in Washington and Oregon…’ The Guardian newspaper reported recently.
    • Contacting local presidents and urging them to disband their local associations.
    • Purchasing newspaper ads attacking local union presidents by name.
    • Posting the salaries of individual educators online.
    • Showing up at worksites and arguing with public employees about their union membership.

    These anti-worker groups also push court cases designed to weaken our ability to stand up for students and public education, including the Janus case before the US Supreme Court. FF's frivolous legal attacks on WEA date back to the 1990s. 

  • What is their agenda?

    The Freedom Foundation promotes policies that benefit its rich benefactors, while it actively opposes our efforts to provide the resources students and educators need to be successful.

    The Freedom Foundation:

    • Opposes higher pay for educators
    • Opposes smaller class sizes
    • Opposes local collective bargaining and other worker rights
    • Opposes fair evaluations
    • Opposes educators having a voice in education policy decisions
    • Opposes increased funding for public schools
    • Represents extremist out-of-state political groups and corporate foundations

    This video explains the foundation's radicial politics and motives. The FF even opposes the minimum wage for education support professionals and other workers.

    FF CEO Tom McCabe, in a campaign to raise funds for their attacks, said, "We have to defeat and dismantle the union political machine once and for all..."

  • What's at stake?

    The Freedom Foundation and related groups want to take away our right to union representation and the freedom to collectively bargain -- and to make Washington an anti-worker state. WEA members who have worked in those states know what's at stake in this fight.

    “I taught in Wisconsin until 2014. I moved to Washington after Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin legislature decimated the collective bargaining and union representation rights of educators and other public workers. Educators lost their professional autonomy and their collective voice, and students stopped getting the resources they needed.” 

    — Angela Bina, teacher and Spokane Education Association member 


    "Being a part of a union is all new to me since I have spent my career in Texas, where there is no such thing. When I think back to my early career in Texas compared to now,  I can’t believe how much better my professional and personal life have benefitted from being a part of the union! 

    "The huge difference in salary, benefits and professional support have made a real difference for my family as well as my students!  I give WEA an A+ and many thanks for all of the hard work that makes a real difference!" 

    — Lori Cowan, teacher and Granite Falls Education Association member


    Katie Coder, a second-grade teacher and Oak Harbor EA member, says that she had no voice in the charter school where she worked in Florida. They just told you what to do and you just followed what they said, she says.

    Becoming involved in her union has been very empowering. She really appreciates that her school administrators respect the union. “I belong,” Katie says, “because the union gives us a voice to advocate for our students and for ourselves.”


    “(After moving from Colorado), I landed in Washington state. It was so different. Teachers here have a voice. There they didn’t. You don’t realize the power of collective voice until you have it. The WEA continues to help me become a better teacher.” 

    — Eileen Rae Ethridge, Kent EA member and former Colorado teacher 

  • Washington Policy Center & Betsy DeVos

    Betsy DeVos smiles during an art eventBetsy DeVos recently raised $1 million for the Washington Policy Center, which promotes vouchers and the privatization of public education. The Washington Policy Center:

    • Opposes the freedom to negotiate fair pay and other worker rights
    • Opposes educator job security & protections
    • Opposes increased funding for public schools
    • Opposes smaller class sizes for students
    • Promotes vouchers & privatization
    • Promotes merit pay based on test scores
    • Loves Betsy DeVos
    • Represents extremist out-of-state political groups and corporate “dark money”

    The center’s Liv Finne believes, “…Washington’s public schools are not underfunded...”

Resources

For more information about the Freedom Foundation and its anti-worker, anti-student agenda:


WSLC groupWe have allies standing with us

WEA members aren't alone in this fight to protect our students and our profession. At the state and local level, we're working with our friends and allies from the Washington State Labor Council, SEIU, Washington Federation of State Employees, Public School Employees, AFT Washington and other unions.