Freedom Foundation’s opt-out message echoing across Illinois

Freedom Foundation’s opt-out message echoing across Illinois

Freedom Foundation’s opt-out message echoing across Illinois

The Freedom Foundation’s first-of-its-kind Teacher Freedom Summit, held in Denver, Colo., this past July, equipped public school teachers from across the country with the knowledge, resources and support necessary to stand up to powerful government unions. Thanks to several Illinois teachers in attendance, the state’s educational landscape has been charged with an unprecedented sense of agency and empowerment since the event.

A Crucible for Change

The Teacher Freedom Summit was created as a sanctuary for educators to learn, network and reclaim their autonomy from the grip of unions that have long dictated the narrative. The summit was not merely an event; it was an awakening. Featuring speakers like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters, the conference provided teachers with an opportunity to learn from education experts while networking with likeminded peers.

Illinois was prominently represented by a contingent of spirited teachers who not only soaked in the knowledge but were impassioned about disseminating it across their respective school districts. Jennifer, an attendee from Illinois, left the “empowering” event with a list of goals, including, “.. to work on getting people out of the union, share the resources I learned about and keep fighting woke ideology.”

Beyond the Classroom

Thanks to teachers like Jennifer, what began as a ripple among Illinois educators has grown into a tidal wave of awareness and action, affecting a broad swath of school district employees. The Freedom Foundation’s message has breached the confines of the classroom, reverberating through hallways, administrative offices and even lunchrooms.

Bus drivers, administrative assistants, custodians and cafeteria staff are now among those who have started questioning their union membership. They too are beneficiaries of the Janus decision, and they are rapidly realizing that their legal and financial rights need not be compromised by optional membership in a union.

The Numbers Speak

Since the summit, Illinois has been in the formative stages of a counter-revolution. Opt-outs have increased by 134 percent from teachers and school district employees compared to the two months prior to the event. Employees in the Chicago Public School District have been a leader in the opt-out movement, as more than 60 school employees left their union since the conference.

These numbers are more than statistics. They represent individual lives reclaiming their agency, their financial freedom and their ability to work without being tethered to an organization with a political agenda they may not endorse.

What Lies Ahead

The movement for the rights of public employees is not confined to Illinois; it is illustrative of a nationwide thirst for change. But for now, the Prairie State is leading the way, setting a precedent others can follow. As the Freedom Foundation celebrates the success your continued support makes possible, we are keenly aware this is not an end but a promising beginning.

The individuals who have left their unions serve as beacons for their colleagues, proving that while leaving public-sector union membership behind might be daunting, the benefits are well worth the risk.

Their courage and actions serve as catalysts for a broader change — a transformation we at the Freedom Foundation are incredibly proud to be part of.

Outreach Coordinator
Ryan graduated from Franklin and Marshall College with a bachelor’s degree in government and Public Policy. He was a member of the Men’s Soccer team, which made NCAA playoffs every year of his collegiate career. Ryan was also a member of the Diplomat Christian Fellowship and volunteered at the Water Street Mission in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While in college, he interned at the Republic Committee of Lancaster County and was able to see firsthand the integral parts the committee had to offer candidates who were running for office. Ryan joined the Freedom Foundation in the summer of 2020 as an intern for Pennsylvania Outreach team. He is now the Pennsylvania Outreach Coordinator after he graduated F&M in 2021. Ryan is from Norwell, Massachusetts and loves the different outdoor activities the East Coast has to offer. He spends his free time fishing, boating, playing soccer and exploring the city of Boston.