On the Road to Education Freedom: BEST Academy Updates

By Josiah Gaiter

This year, FreedomWorks’ BEST (Building Education for Students Together) program has traveled across the country to train thousands of parents on how they can take back their school board one seat at a time. It’s clear that parents are eager to take action.

The Big Picture

In early 2021, FreedomWorks set in motion a plan to fight for education reform after having two realizations. First, parents have to be the core of the education reform movement. Second, after COVID lockdowns, parents were ready to fight but needed the guidance and tools to succeed.

We’ve started our candidate academy to provide parents with the tools to win elections in their district and protect parents’ rights–whether that means combating mask mandates, lockdowns, or critical race theory. This training provides parents with information about everything from what a school board does to how you can impact the school board once you’re elected.

The Details

What challenges do parents face?

  • While 54 percent of districts across the country are fully in person, panicking politicians have middle and low income families worried about another lockdown. These families cannot afford the same private schools that politicians send their children to.
  • As we return to school, various districts are implementing mask mandates for students.
  • The National Education Association (NEA) recently vowed to fight for critical race theory and the 1619 project instead of parents’ rights.
  • If we look at their spending, teacher unions overall spent more than $65,000,000 on the 2020 election, with 98 percent of direct donations going to democrats.

Parents fighting back

  • Over 250 activists have participated in the BEST academy 6-week training to learn how to run for school board. More than 50 of these graduates have already filed to run or are committed to running for their upcoming elections.
  • Over 3,000 activists have joined BEST at events across 10 states so far this year.
  • Our activists drove over 4,000 comments for key wins against critical race theory in both Florida and Arizona.

Why it Matters

We all understand the importance of education but have often focused on the wrong sources to achieve lasting change in this space. These battles will not be won through policy arguments or by lazy politicians. These battles will be won by parents who realize that they must stand up for their rights or surrender them to the government and teacher unions.

The grassroots movement of parents has more momentum than ever and can reform our education system to restore parents’ rights. However, the government and teacher unions are interested in expanding their own roles in our children’s education, not parents’ roles. Furthermore, teacher unions are happy to spend millions of dollars a year on campaigns and lobbying to ensure that they can influence politicians.

The parent victories we’ve seen thus far are a preview of what’s to come if we make long term commitments to support and equip parents with the tools they need to expand education freedom. Lockdowns, mandates, and divisive curricula are just a preview of what’s to come if we decide to let our guard down or let our passion for true reform fade.