The day-to-day operations of the nation's largest union are now being led by a man with strong Idaho ties. John C. Stocks, a former Idaho community organizer and state Senator, became executive director of the National Education Association (NEA) today, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel announced. Stocks has been serving as NEA deputy executive director since 2004.
“NEA welcomes John’s supreme strategic skills and his unflagging commitment to students and our members,” said Van Roekel. “John brings unmatched expertise in directing complex organizations, and he knows our Association well. He understands the needs of students, especially those in poverty, and the challenges that face educators. John values the talents of our members; he will ensure their ideas and voices are heard by policymakers.”
As executive director, Stocks will serve as top manager of the NEA, which has a staff of 535 and an annual budget of $330 million. NEA and its state and local affiliates across the country represent 3.2 million educators, including teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty and staff, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Stocks replaces John I. Wilson, who is retiring as NEA’s executive director of 10 years.
“NEA members are deeply committed to the success of their students, and I am honored to work for an organization that represents them,” said Stocks. “From strengthening the profession of teaching to advocating for great public schools, NEA will continue to be powerful voice for justice and opportunity.”
As deputy executive director from 2004-2011, Stocks spearheaded NEA’s policy, political and membership priorities. Under his leadership, NEA charted a new course of mobilizing its ranks in support of improving the federal No Child Left Behind law, transforming its political organization and building new strategic alliances to champion public education.
Stocks’ commitment to public education spans decades. From 1990-2004, he served as assistant executive director for public affairs at the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), with oversight for the 98,000-member Association’s public relations, legislative, political action, and teaching and learning departments. With Stocks at the helm, WEAC championed legislative efforts to expand early childhood education, improve student achievement, lower class sizes and ensure comprehensive standards for teachers.
An unmatched drive for social justice and positive change in education has been the signature of John Stocks’ career. Prior to joining WEAC, he served as executive director of Idaho Fair Share, a grassroots citizen action organization dedicated to keeping utility rates affordable for working families, and spearheaded legislation on behalf of low and moderate income utility ratepayers.
In 1988, Stocks ran for the Idaho state Senate, defeating a four-term incumbent. His legislative record includes successfully shepherding a bill—one of his proudest achievements— to improve protections for people facing bankruptcy due to family medical crises. He established his bona fides in political strategy as chief architect of the Idaho Senate Democrats’ re-election plans, securing seven new Senate seats and protecting all incumbents over three election cycles.
Stocks has been recognized by leading national organizations as an agent for progressive change. In 2007, he was honored by the Midwest Academy, a grassroots training institute with a long tradition of preparing progressive leaders. He was also honored by the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center for his innovative work in ballot measure campaigning, winning difficult battles in support of students, educators and the middle class.
Stocks is a graduate of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. He and his wife, Connie (a former Idaho educator and IEA President), have two children.