Friday, October 18, 2019

What Ever Happened To Rebecca Friedrichs?

You remember Rebecca Friedrichs. She was the face of the union-busting lawsuit of 2014. Supreme Court Justice Alito signaled that he was ready and willing to hear a case that would revisit the issue of union free-riders, and the Center for Individual Rights (an activist-by-way-of-lawsuits group funded by, among others, various Koch groups and the DeVos family) delivered with Friedrichs plus nine other teachers and the Christian Educators Association International. Friedrichs was a ready choice-- she had already been writing op-eds "revealing" the union's naughtiness.

The apple pie was cropped out
I can't fault CIR for client-shopping, which seems to be how virtually every Supreme Court case gets started these days by all sides. But this was particularly aggressive, with CIR encouraging every lower court to rule against them so that they could appeal their way up the ladder. They got to the top, the Supremes looked poised to give them a win-- and then Justice Scalia died, leaving Friedrichs a default 4-4 loss.

Along the way, Rebecca Friedrich was the public face of the lawsuit. She did plenty of press, particularly with friendly outlets, serving as the perky face of the attack on fair share. With almost thirty years in an elementary classroom, she made a good spokesperson. But after her lawsuit tanked, what next. The court eventually heard an identical case, and "fair share" was defeated--but under the name Janus, not Friedrichs.

What ever happened to Rebecca Friedrichs?

Well, the answer is "plenty."

Whether intentionally or not, Friedrichs had launched a second career as an arch-pseudo-conservative foe of the teachers unions. How pseudo-conservative? Her most recent piece for Fox News is "Teachers, your unions might support Trump's impeachment but they've abandoned you."

Unions have worked feverishly to overthrow our president since the day he was elected without concern for the resulting national trauma or division caused by subverting an elected leader. 

Her work as an occasional Fox contributor is just a part of her current batch of gigs. She has recorded some reformy videos for Prager U. She's also, somehow, part of the ALEC world. And she has a book-- Standing Up To Goliath.

But the centerpiece of her personal platform is an organization called For Kids and Country. It is similar in focus to a handful of other post-Janus groups like PA's Free To Teach; let's get teachers to drop out of their union and set up their own local. They even have a handy guide for how to personally get a teacher to drop out (the six Es-- embrace, educate, enlighten, empathize, encourage, empower).

While Friedrichs was fairly modulated during the days of her court case, her rhetoric has taken on a bit of an edge. Back then, she characterized her work environment as "negative" (because of the union) and noted that if you wanted your union to support political causes, that was fine, but if you didn't, you should be able to opt out. Her case featured the same argument as Janus-- that it's not just about political contributions (which are separate from union dues) because even negotiating a contract is a political activity. It's a weird little Catch-22 in the anti-union view-- the union shouldn't be involved in anything political, because it's a public sector union, but everything the union does is, by definition, political because it's a public sector union. It's almost as if some of these folks like the Kochs don't want people who join unions to have any political power at all.

But back to Friedrichs. Her beef with the union has only intensified. The For Kids and Country website has an entire tab about the evils of "SeXXX education" that is being pushed by the unions. There's another tab labeled "Kids First" which turns out to be all about the awesomeness of school choice. But I'll let Friedrichs speak for herself.

Children as young as kindergarten were indoctrinated to believe our president is a racist for desiring to protect our borders.

Labor unions should stick to their mission and butt out of our classrooms! Our schools are not for brainwashing children to march under the banner of one political agenda. Teachers aim to unleash children’s ability to think critically and live responsibly. But unions refuse to butt out because unfettered access to America’s kids is what they desire, and the tax-free billions teachers pay in annual dues provide lucrative funding for the unions’ leftist politicians and causes.

State and national unions control teachers in a culture of fear — using intimidation, isolation, and ignorance to keep us captive, so most teachers have no idea how the unions actually spend our dues.

Rebecca Friedrichs a twenty-eight-year public school teacher, was forced to fund state and national teachers’ unions whose politics and divisive tactics degraded her profession, our schools, and our national character...Determined to stop state and national unions from destroying our schools and American values, Rebecca refused to give up.

In Breitbart: Educator and author Rebecca Friedrichs described the #RedForEd movement — pushed by teachers’ unions and their political allies — as a “deception” that uses teachers as pawns to advance the unions’ far-left political agenda to “fundamentally change [American] culture.”

Friedrichs said, “What the teachers’ unions really are — and I’m talking about state and national teachers’ unions — they’re really the political action committee of the far left. They take teachers’ dues money to fight for what they call social justice — their definition of social justice — which is all this far-left March for Our Lives, and all these things that they believe in.”

Friedrichs continued, “Teachers have absolutely no idea that they’re funding this stuff. I’m not surprised teachers bought into the deception, and I know that a lot of teachers did not, but those teachers are silenced by all the bullying, which is why I’m out here speaking on their behalf. No surprise. No surprise with the six percent raise, either, because, this isn’t really about teachers. This is about unions controlling our schools and changing our country.”

At the Heritage Foundation Summit just last week: “When you hear that teachers are behind comprehensive sexuality education or that teachers agree with the sexualization of children, that’s a huge deception,” said Rebecca Friedrichs.

On the contrary, “America’s real teachers are deeply disturbed [sic] by the sexualization of our children,” said Friedrichs.

“America’s real teachers have been silenced and bullied by the very organization that is pushing the sexualization of children: That is, labor unions,” she declared. 

She is shocked and upset that the NEA put up a resolution calling for the end of child detention and ICE raids. She agrees that #RedforEd is a trojan horse to use the issue of teacher pay to get Certain Politicians elected. She also calls unions "the real existential threat" and states that only parents are the real experts about kids, and gets some shots at Planned Parenthood. You get the picture. Unions are evil, and somehow have duped and intimidated teachers into covering up their evil Leftist plan; she is right in there with Attorney General Barr. No explanation of things like the West Virginia wildcat strike, nor how a handful of union leaders manage to bully tens of thousands of teachers into walking out in other states. The implication here is that schools are filled with not-real teachers who are either evil or stupid or both. I don't know what she makes of things like the current Chicago teacher leftist demand for social workers to help homeless students.

The For Kids and Country website offers plenty of "inspirational" tales about teachers who were beaten on by the union, like the woman whose colleagues weren't thrilled about her vocal support for Governor Walkers Act 10-- the one that gutted unions and tanked teacher pay. Or the guy who got thrown out of the union for scabbing during the Chicago teacher strike--and he's doing it again right now. Or the teacher who was upset that buying her own liability insurance cost more than belonging to the state and national union. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

If this seems like it would make work awkward for Friedrichs when she goes to work, fear not. She has taken a leave of absence to be a full time anti-union activist. How she manages that is not entirely clear. The For Kids and County Inc 990 form shows just two officers, both unpaid-- Friedrichs as Founder and as CEO, her husband Charles, who is the Director, School of Music and Dance, and Associate Professor of Music Education at San Diego State University. The organization's address is a residential home in San Diego. Its 2018 form shows contributions of $75,060 and assets of just over $44K. So not exactly living high off the Kochian hog there.

Look, I'm the last guy to declare unwavering loyalty to the union. Sometimes they do dumb things, and sometimes they are slow to respond to members, and sometimes they act like other entrenched institutions (i.e. slow, dumb, and defensive). But I don't doubt for a moment that they are necessary, Because the alternatives proposed by folks like Friedrichs are even dumber. Here's her answer to "what instead" when asked post-Janus by Education Next:

Teachers can sit together and intelligently discuss what needs to happen to improve student outcomes in our schools. What is it that we really need to do a better job? There were many years when, more than a raise, I really wanted help in the classroom. Students would come to me four grade levels behind in reading, and I was expected to bring them up, and I was one teacher with 34 students. I wanted a teacher’s aide. I always wanted a science lab. I always wanted a music program. We never had any of that. Local teachers can get together and decide what’s best for the students in their community—working with parents, too, because parents have been voiceless. Teachers can stand together and leave the bullying state and national unions—decertify the entire web of union control—and then they can create “local only” associations and have a collective voice. 

This is the kind of thing that makes me doubt she has been in the classroom two years, let alone twenty-eight. Yes, teachers can get together and figure out what they need and make a list of things they want and go to the administration and ask politely, "Please sir, may I have some more." I mean, at least she stops short of the uber-stupid argument that each teacher can negotiate a super contract on her own. But the notion that a few teachers can just reasonably request the stuff they need and the administration will say, "Oh, sure, yes, right away!" is just childishly silly. Even in the best of districts, unions are useful, and there are plenty of good reasons for teachers to join, not the least of which is not being the kind of deadbeat who takes a free ride with wages and benefits secured by that actual paying members of the union.

My position remains unchanged. If you don't want to pay any dues to any part of any union, then give up all your union benefits. Get your own liability insurance, negotiate your own contract (including working conditions and requirements), and make sure that contract is "at will" so that you can be fired at any time for any reason. Also, cover your own butt when an unforeseeable problem arises. Otherwise, join the union and make a huge nuisance of yourself when it behaves in ways you disagree with.

Of course, none of that applies if you think the real problem is that they are out to overthrow American values and destroy our society and not coincidentally strengthen political opposition to Our Glorious Leader and other pseudo-conservative causes. If you think it's morally bad and politically inconvenient for the help to organize instead of being good girls and obeying their Betters, then your goal is simply to eradicate unions because they are a Bad Thing and the details you come up with to justify that don't really matter.

So this is what happened to Rebecca Friedrichs-- she became a professional union opponent. I can't wait to see what happens to Mark Janus.


  1. 2 points: First, this woman is a total clam. Second, she does have a point in that unions should stay OUT of politics unless they serve our work interests. I am sick and tired of all the bullshit, "social justice" crap that a lot of our teacher unions are supporting. Teacher unions should focus on what matters to us in regard to our day to day teaching.

    1. If politicians stayed out of education, then teacher unions could stay out of politics.

  2. We used to teach civics in high school we need to return to community awareness instead of this independent, self-made crap! No person is self-made and nor should they be!

  3. If this woman got a "bad evaluation" then she would be grateful for a teacher union

    1. Right? Or if she worked in a religious school, which apparently she isn't brave enough to do despite her claim of being a conservative "Christian" activist. I did work in religious schools for ten years before getting a job in public school -- as a preschool teacher, as an aide, and a classroom teacher. Unions are not perfect, but not having them is a nightmare.

  4. She just went on Fox News and accused unions of wanting to keep students home and online so that they can be sexualized (her words). Including teachers TEACHERS!! showing kids how to sext and access porn. Despicable, especially after the way 2020 has gone so far.

  5. I just heard of her and read about her on the ALEC website. I love the “Apple pie cropped out” liner above. Don’t pseudo-conservative media outlets need garbage like her to dramatize their point?

  6. and there she is as an opening reader of the 2020 Republican convention propaganda, can't wait for all the "surprises" that are promised, Kanye West? or will it be Trump again - no surprise there. Also NO delegates wearing masks - irresponsible but not surprising

  7. Parents CAN NOT run schools! It is preposterous to think that all opinions that will flow in from the parental pool will be controlled into actionable progression for efficient execution. It is a recipe for uncontrolled conflict and thus zero progression. Ms. Friedrichs need to erode the Teacher’s Union is only Political Rhetoric that is meant to erode the only advocate our teachers have to ensure they are fairly treated and not brushed under the carpet as the politicians would love so they can continually defund education. She is capitalizing on “COVID confusion in the education arena” situation to erode any remaining support for teachers. If she truly cared about teachers, she would use her energy to negotiate more with unions as an advocate for teachers during this time rather than trying to remove the union power all together. Ms. Friedrichs is no friend to our children’s education, she is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.