Press Release

ROCKFORD – The Illinois Education Association (IEA) in conjunction with the Rockford Education Association (REA) is planning a statewide day of action to coincide with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ visit to Jefferson High School in Rockford on Mon., Sept. 16.

“It’s unfortunate that our Secretary of Education has absolutely no experience working in public education,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said. “She has never worked in a public school, never been a teacher, a school administrator, nor served on any public board of education. She didn’t attend public schools or send her children to public schools. In fact, prior to becoming Secretary, she spent years pushing to privatize public education through voucher programs in her home state of Michigan and around the country. Our students deserve a true advocate. They deserve better than DeVos.”

Since becoming Education Secretary, DeVos has:

  • Proposed federal education budgets that slash education funding to the states;
  • Repealed federal protections that hold predatory for-profit colleges accountable and has been sued for doing so;
  • Rejected 99 percent of educators who apply for the public employee student loan forgiveness program.

In protest of the DeVos visit and her education policies, teachers, support staff and public education supporters across the state plan to wear red for ed to symbolize the importance of equitable public education for all students.

“We want to turn Illinois #RedforEd on Monday and send a clear message about how important it is to use our collective voice to fight for public education and for our students,” REA President Mel Gilfillan said. “In Rockford, our administrators, educators and community members work together to put our students first. We’re the ones who make sure every child has access to a high-quality public education, not Secretary DeVos.”

“The Illinois Education Association and all of our 135,000 members always have been, and will continue to be, fierce advocates for our students and we will do whatever it takes to protect their right to quality public education,” Griffin said. “Betsy DeVos is not welcome here.”

Click here for more information on DeVos’ anti-public education history.

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The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.