Press Release

SPRINGFIELD – Today Illinois Education Association (IEA) released a statement on the police shooting death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. The following is attributable to IEA President Kathi Griffin:

“Our hearts are with the family of Adam Toledo and all those who loved him. For a family, the pain of losing a child is unbearable and to be compounded by these circumstances is almost unthinkable.

Nine months and 66 miles apart, you have the case of two teenagers with guns confronted by police.

In one, the youth is white, 17, carrying an AR-15-style rifle walking away from a scene in Kenosha, Wisc. where he allegedly just killed two men and injured a third. Police, heading to the scene, stop Kyle Rittenhouse and ask for directions. Rittenhouse goes home that night and sleeps in his own bed, later turning himself in. He is out on bond awaiting trial.

In the other, the youth is Latino, 13, allegedly carrying a gun and running down an alley away from a police officer who is ordering him to stop, turnaround and put his hands up. He does. The officer shoots him in the chest and he dies at the scene. Police allege he threw the gun before turning around. The case is under investigation.

There is no question we need police and no question we need policing to change.  But that’s not the only change we need. In an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune on Fri., April 16, Adam Toledo’s teachers talk about how he was labeled a special ed student, isolated with a group of six others from the rest of his classmates, had a talent for art, but in an under-resourced and underfunded education system, had no art class. They noted that he painted graffiti on a wall at school and while everyone worried about how to cover it up, no one asked why he did it.

We are facing an unprecedented opportunity in education in Illinois with the most recent round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Round money to introduce more equity into our schools.

We urge school districts across Illinois to work with your unions – the members of which know the students, their families and their needs – your communities, your community leaders, especially those who are Black and Brown. Together, we can do great things. We can create better safety nets. We can change the trajectory.”

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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.