Illinois Education Association honors Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch and former co- director of Citizen Action/Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – Today the Illinois Education Association (IEA) honored Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch and William McNary for their commitment to public education.

Welch was honored with the IEA “Friend of Education.” McNary was awarded the IEA “President’s” award.

The following statements are attributable to IEA President Al Llorens:

“To say Speaker Chris Welch is a friend to public education is a massive understatement. He is so much more than that. He makes sure his caucus is filled with pro-public education legislators who know that strong students mean strong schools and strong communities. Early in his career, Speaker Welch began working with the IEA to abolish the State Charter School Commission. He stuck with it for more than three years and eventually the charter school commission was abolished. More recently, he helped us navigate the COVID-19 crisis and made sure educators were safe on the job during the global pandemic. Since he’s taken over stewardship of the House, he’s helped us fight back against the state’s voucher program, known as “Invest in Kids.” With Welch’s support, the IEA and others opposed to sending public money to private schools, were able to ensure the voucher program was allowed to sunset once and for all. We are grateful for the good, hard work the speaker does in Springfield. He is not only a friend to the IEA, but a great friend to every student and educator in our great state.”

“William McNary is a fierce advocate for public education. McNary has worked nearly his entire career to build a strong public school system in Illinois. He has won significant victories from which we are reaping the benefits today. His work began in 1975 with the Illinois Public Action Council where he pushed for adequate, equitable funding for public schools. Virtually every year and every legislative session since, McNary has lobbied for legislation to improve support for public education, oppose privatization and support the rights of public education teachers, staff and faculty. With his help, we are working toward our mission of ensuring an equitable, high-quality public education for all children in Illinois.”


At 135,000 members strong, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.

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