My name is Beverly Stewart. I am a founding member of the Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Organization (RAFO), which formed in 2000. I served as president for six years and in other capacities since.

On a state level, I was elected in 2002 to the higher education council, a body of ten people who represent higher education concerns to the Illinois Education Association (IEA) – which has 130,000 of mostly k-12 teachers. I am now its chair, representing about 6000 higher education members in the IEA. About a third of those members are contingent academics.

I share these details to introduce myself and to provide my reason for embarking on writing a monthly blog for the RAFO web page. In my monthly communications, I plan to tell you about what we are doing as a higher education council and hope to inspire you to consider becoming involved in actions or in planning them.

Plans for the State

On Saturday, June 3, the higher education council decided at its retreat to embark on campaign to educate all IEA members about the economic cost not funding higher education has on Illinois as a state. For example, every dollar not spent on higher education equates to a loss of $2.29 to the state economy. Learn more by reading the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability report: “Illinois’ Significant Disinvestment in Higher Education."

Summer Actions

We are also working with the Fund Our Future Coalition to educate the wider community. We have several actions:

  • June 21 Northeastern Illinois University Day of Action – going to Winnetka to Rauner’s house is an included activity (180 employees are slated for layoff at NEIU because of the lack of state funding and no budget)
  • June 26, 27, 28, 29 call on legislators to pass a budget that fully funds higher education. (Each day will include a different message.) March for Public Education with an emphasis on higher education, set for Saturday July 22.
  • July 29 canvass of friendly voters to share with them about the funding crisis

Summer Training

The Illinois Education Association’s Summer Leadership Academy is hosting a training on building a solid and strategic contract campaign. We invite individuals and local team members to work together on a contract campaign strategy to help win on some sticky contract issues. The workshop starts Thursday July 27 and ends Friday July 28 at noon. Register a team today! Our session is in the bargaining school session.

I will be sending a link to all members that offers an opportunity for involvement in many capacities. Changing our current reality is up to us. Stay tuned!

In Solidarity,


Beverly Stewart
IEA Higher Education Council Chair