We fight for the rights and opportunities of every Oklahoman.
We fight for the rights and opportunities of every Oklahoman.
Oklahoma Appleseed’s Freedom to Teach Fund is a unique account that can be tapped for providing Oklahoma public school teachers with with legal assistance. Application to the fund is approved by a small advisory council. The committee works throughout the year raising funds for FTTF.
The wars of today don’t happen on a battlefield, they’re happening over ideas and how ideas are taught. Throughout 2021 and 2022, OK Appleseed and our partners have seen an alarming trend of moving national political fights inside our classrooms and discussion halls, preventing critical learning and discussion from taking place. A significant contributor to this phenomenon was the passage of HB 1775, which prevents teachers from making students feel that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” or that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.“ Often teachers are being caught in the crossfire of these idea wars, when they just want to do their jobs. State officials, parents, and administrators are threatening and harassing teachers just for teaching and protecting vulnerable students.
This issue rose to a fever pitch when, during the 2022 midterm elections, candidate for State Superintendent Ryan Walters targeted a Norman public school teacher for sharing access to free library books. He publicly called for her teaching certificate to be stripped, and incorrectly stated she had been fired. This incident led her to be doxxed and attacked on the internet and in the press.
Public education is the bedrock of our democracy—without it we are easily malleable and complacent, two things Oklahoma was never meant to be.
To protect the freedom of ideas and the cultivation of critical thinking, we must empower and protect our teachers. And we have to build a legal war chest to do it.
Donations to the Fund are open now! Donate here.
Help us fight important legal battles that protect Oklahoma teachers.
Action speaks louder than words. Your gift today to the Freedom to Teach fund will keep Oklahoma teachers in the classroom, and move this fight to the courts.
Purpose of the Fund
The Oklahoma Appleseed Freedom to Teach Fund collects contributions and pays attorneys to represent and defend Oklahoma public school teachers in protection of their constitutional rights, and their rights to privacy and ability to pursue their chosen profession.
The primary role of the Freedom to Teach Fund is to initiate and support litigation that enforces teachers' constitutional rights to free speech, and their due process rights to keep their teaching certifications.
Because of our strong community partnerships, we are ready to take up the mantle for Oklahoma teachers.
All requests for representation from the Freedom to Teach Fund will be weighed with special consideration for activities that will affect the most far-reaching and positive outcomes.
How to Request FTTF Representation:
For information on representation, please contact us here.
Please state specifically the set of facts which is leading you to ask for representation. Be sure to apply any documentation you have to support your request.
If your request is an emergency, call the Freedom to Teach fund line and leave a message. Someone will be with you as soon as we can. Be prepared to email some documentation.
If you have questions before submitting your request, please email freedomtoteachfund [at] okappleseed [dot] org.
Our fund is unique. We represent teachers in proactive litigation to defend their constitutional free speech rights, and their due process rights to work in their chosen profession.
Ron Jones is a proud native of Hugo, OK and a product of Hugo Public Schools. He was born in Hugo to a single mother surviving on minimum wage to raise Ron and his two older brothers. Ron’s kindergarten teacher saw promise in him and created an advanced packet for his mother to review with him nightly. Passionate teachers, loving friends and family, and the support of Hugo,
OK launched Ron through the University of Chicago Law School. While in law school Ron participated in trial courses, community service projects, and a criminaldefense clinic. Upon graduation he accepted a position at a nonprofit, and moved into low-income housing on Chicago’s westside to provide holistic defense for youths accused of crimes, but his heart has always been in Oklahoma. In 2018, Ron returned to Oklahoma to provide holistic defense of mothers accused of crimes also for a nonprofit.Ron currently owns and operates a trial boutique law firm in Oklahoma City, The Jones Firm, PLLC.
In his free time, he reads, enjoys time with friends & family, and volunteers. Ron donates backpacks to children in Hugo each year, serves on the board of Red River Hoops, and mentors youth in his hometown. Ron knows the power of Oklahoma’s public schools, he’s the living embodiment of it.
Senator Mary B. Boren was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate in November 2018. She represents the people living in District 16 which covers Norman in Cleveland County.
After graduating with distinction from the University of Oklahoma, College of Law in 1992, Senator Boren began her education policy career as a Carl Albert Executive Fellow for the State Regents of Higher Education and State Textbook Committee, where she served all of Oklahoma’s universities and public schools.
She was enlisted by Governors Walters and Henry to serve as an interim legal analyst during the last weeks of the legislative sessions in 1993, 1994, and 2003, where she reviewed and briefed legislation for the Governors’ approval.
Senator Boren credits her participation in the Institute for Child Advocacy’s Kids Count Leaders training and the American Bar Association’s Children and Law Committee, as motivation to become a Child Advocacy Attorney and provide affordable legal representation for foster parents, grandparents, and parents undergoing family crisis from 2003-2009. In 2009, she became a certified school counselor and worked for Little Axe High School and Adams Elementary School in Norman until 2015. Senator Boren was elected by her peers to serve on the Professional Educators of Norman bargaining team.
Senator Boren has been married to Dr. Nathan Boren who board certified Family Physician since 1992. Together they have three children (Altus, Harrison, and Macy) and are members of the First Christian Church of Norman.
Elizabeth Pierce started her career in banking 25 years ago as a Bank Examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank and then transitioned to a credit specialist for local banks. She also has experience with Fair Lending compliance. Elizabeth is a member of the Norman League of Women Voters and often moderates candidate forums.
Public education has been essential to her success, she graduated from Oklahoma State University with degrees in Agricultural Economics and Accounting along with a University of Oklahoma Law degree. If you are wondering, at football games it’s “Orange Power.” Elizabeth’s interest in serving on the Advisory Board of the Freedom to Teach Fund stems from growing up as a “teacher’s kid,” being taught and coached by both her parents!
She has seen first hand how the quality of education can be negatively affected by the personal agenda of a parent, administrator or school board member while placing debilitating stress on teachers that advocate for facts, fairness and excellence.
Kristen Hilty Caruso received her B.A. in English from the University of Oklahoma and her J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. She is a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association and is a practicing attorney in the fields of oil and gas, employment law, real estate, and estate planning. She spent sixteen years in the private sector with the Vernon L. Smith Group of Companies where she served as In-House Counsel, Director of Management, and Director of Human Resources. Hilty Caruso served as an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Oklahoma from January 2016 to December 2020 before joining Price College of Business, Management and International Business Division as a Lecturer in Management and Legal Studies in January of 2021.
Hilty Caruso currently serves on the Division of Management and International Business Board of Advisors for Price College of Business, the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Rural Schools Coalition, the Board of Directors for the Noble Public Schools Foundation for Excellence, and the Board of Directors for the Noble Soccer Club. When not at the soccer fields, she, her husband Darin, and their daughter Abby, can usually be found at the park with their dogs.