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ST. PAUL, Minnesota. Nov. 1, 2023 — Education Minnesota has increased its outreach to school board voters through a digital advertising campaign in response to a sprawling effort to restrict what Minnesota students may learn and educators may teach.
“Educators want schools where every student feels safe, welcome and ready to learn, no matter what they look like, where they live, or who they love,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “The amount of money spent already this year by anti-union groups that don’t share our values was worrying. Seeing campaign websites linked to one of the largest MAGA networks in America was more evidence of how school board races have changed. Our union had to respond because we want to make sure every single student has access to a school that will prepare them to pursue their dreams, no exceptions.”
Education Minnesota launched get-out-the-vote ads to voters in several suburban school districts, the first time the state union has run such a campaign. The union filed its campaign finance disclosures in the appropriate jurisdictions on Monday.
The union’s campaign comes as the Freedom Club of Minnesota, American Majority Action, the Minnesota Parents Alliance, the Minnesota Child Protection League, Restore Minnesota and other groups are working, directly and indirectly, on behalf of candidates who often oppose inclusive education and the labor movement. What has not been reported in the news media is the involvement of Free to Learn Action, which is linked to the national network of advocacy organizations led by conservative strategist Leonard Leo.
The Free to Learn Action program is operating websites for three open seats on the school board of the Anoka-Hennepin Public schools, the state’s largest district. The sites are here, here and here. Voters in the district received texts to persuade them to visit the sites. Free to Learn Action is the advocacy arm of the national Free to Learn coalition.
Free to Learn Action is part of the Concord Fund, which the New York Times has described as a funding hub “to a broader coalition, disseminating tens of millions of dollars in grants to allied nonprofits, and serving as incubators for in-house projects, including one highlighting critical race theory in schools and another fighting Democratic efforts to expand voter access.” The Concord Fund is part of Leo’s network.
Upon request, Education Minnesota can provide contact information for a voter who was contacted by Free to Learn, a national expert in secretive political networks, and additional published reports about the Leonard Leo network.
About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.