BLOG: Looking Ahead to 2022

December 29, 2021

The last year has challenged our great nation. School district lockdowns driven by teacher union bosses. Catastrophic learning loss. Battles over race and gender in schools. Assaults on free speech and religious liberty on college campuses. Onerous mandates and regulations on employees and employers. Overbearing federal overreach into our daily lives. 

The pandemic has demonstrated that America’s education and workforce system is failing too many students and workers. Americans rightly think that our country is headed in the wrong direction.   

This is why we launched the Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies. As part of our launch, we were pleased to receive statements of strong support from respected conservatives like former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, as well as Gene Scalia and Alex Acosta, who each served as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Like them, DFI envisions a republic where freedom, opportunity, creativity, and innovation flourish in our schools and workplaces.  Our mission is to defend and advance freedom and opportunity for every American family, student, and entrepreneur while protecting our civil and constitutional rights at school and work. 

The past year painfully demonstrated that parents should be able to choose the education that works best for their children. Immediately after our launch, DFI received national attention for its amicus brief in the landmark Supreme Court school-choice and religious-freedom case, Carson v. Makin. We are grateful for the tremendous public support we received from school choice champions, such as Secretary DeVos and two-time U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, as well as representation on the brief by David Boies (who argued the Bush v. Gore case) and his colleague, Jesse Panuccio. The Court will render a decision in 2022, and we’re hopeful that it will prohibit states from discriminating against religion in their funding of private schools.

We also watched as politically motivated teacher union leaders kept schools from safely reopening, resulting in massive learning losses for children. These union bosses need to be held accountable.  

That’s why DFI last month launched its Teacher Unions Accountability Project, issuing a scathing report demonstrating how teacher union leaders took advantage of the pandemic to seek more pay, more benefits, and public policies that had nothing to do with safely returning students to the classroom. Union leaders want to rewrite history and falsely claim that they fought to reopen schools. They didn’t. 

Indeed, DFI has its work cut out for it on this and other issues in 2022. Under the guise of “universal” pre-K and “free” college, for example, opponents of education freedom seek to control all aspects of education from Washington, D.C.  If enacted, these policies would mean nothing less than a federal takeover of early childhood and higher education, with parents and students shoved aside in favor of union leaders, federal bureaucrats, and radical interest groups. If you don’t think these are dangerous policy trends, just look at the K-12 education system for proof. We cannot let this happen.  

These developments demonstrate that the United States has entered into its most politically fraught moment since the 1960s. The constitutional system crafted by our Founding Fathers and enhanced by President Lincoln and the Civil Rights generation is under attack like never before. Forces opposed to this system are now on the offense in Congress, the Executive Branch, many state governments, much of corporate America, and most importantly, our schools, colleges, and universities. As the left’s radical, dangerous legislative agenda collapses in Congress due to its unpopularity, we must guard against the next step:  Legislation through executive decree and the all-too-willing federal bureaucracy’s enthusiasm to comply.  As we see it, the Defense of Freedom Institute could not have arrived on the scene at a more consequential time. 

Vested interests—the public-sector unions, federal bureaucrats, and their interest-group allies—have played the long game regarding education and workforce issues. They’ve been winning for far too long. It’s time for people like you, defenders of freedom, to win instead. With your continued support in 2022 and beyond, we will.

With blessings and good tidings for the New Year,  

Bob Eitel & Jim Blew
Co-founders, DFI