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Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres goes back to school

NEA’s Substitute Educators Day poll names Ellen top pick Eskelsen García: We are recognizing the important role that public education plays in the future of our students

WASHINGTON - November 18, 2016 -

The people have cast their vote. This time, for their favorite celebrity substitute teacher. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was chosen overwhelmingly in a NEA poll for American Education Week.

Competing with several high-profile TV personalities, such as Anderson Cooper, Wendy Williams, Julie Chen and Kelly Ripa, voters hands down chose Ellen with 63% of the vote. Anderson Cooper was a distant 2nd with 15% of the vote.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are more than 600,000 substitute educators nationwide, and while these numbers have been reported to be shrinking, substitute educators perform vital functions in maintaining the continuity of daily education. They are called early in the morning, take over lessons with short notice, and ensure that time is productive and furthers students’ learning.

 “Substitute educators play an important supporting role in helping to provide students with quality schools and an uninterrupted learning environment,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “This Substitute Educators Day, we will be honoring the contributions of those individuals who regularly step in when teachers and other school employees have to miss class.”

In previous polls, America has picked Bono, U2’s legendary front man and voice for the poor, to rule the classroom on Substitute Educator’s Day, as well as J.K. Rowling, creator of the "Harry Potter" fantasy series. AEW takes place the week prior to Thanksgiving. It was first celebrated in 1921, with NEA and the American Legion as co-sponsors, and grew out of national concern over illiteracy. After 95 years, the original goal of American Education Week—to generate public awareness and support for education—continues today.

“American Education Week serves as a tribute to the team of people who work with our students, everyone from the classroom teacher and the bus driver to the cafeteria worker and the administration staff—plus countless others,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “This week is a great time to say thank you to school employees who work in and out of the classroom.”

This year’s AEW tagline, Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility, is a reminder that all Americans must do their part to help create great public schools for every student.

To find out more about the week-long celebration, visit or contact your local public school.

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  202-262-0589,