Alumni News

John I. Wilson (M.Ed. '71) named 'Tar Heel of the Week'

Photo of John I. Wilson

John I. Wilson

John I. Wilson, executive director of the National Education Association, was profiled by The News & Observer of Raleigh as the newspaper’s “Tar Heel of the Week” on Nov. 28.

The story, headlined “Raleigh teacher leads NEA with classroom zeal,” describes Wilson’s work as head of the nation’s largest group representing teachers, with 3.3 million members, 550 employees and a budget of $360 million. Wilson is working to promote teachers’ interests at a time when education reform movements focus more attention on teachers’ performance.

"There’s a lot of demonizing going on," Wilson told The News & Observer. “Our members care deeply about their students. They pull money out of their pocket. They'll do anything for their students to be successful."

Wilson is a North Carolina native who cherishes his Tar Heel roots, The N&O said. Wilson was born in Burlington and raised in Raleigh. After getting an undergraduate degree from Western Carolina University and a master’s degree at Carolina, he worked at Enloe High School, then at Wiley Elementary School, both in Raleigh. Today, he splits his time between Washington, D.C., and Raleigh.

While serving as head of the North Carolina Association of Educators in the 1980s and ‘90s, Wilson led an effort to encourage legislators to increase North Carolina teachers’ salaries, resulting in the state moving from a ranking of 43rd in teacher pay to 23rd, the newspaper said. At the NEA, he is championing an effort to establish a minimum teacher salary of $40,000.

The story is available at The News & Observer.