Teaching Profession

Executive Director of NEA To Retire After Nearly 20 Years Behind Scenes

By Jeff Archer — February 16, 2000 2 min read

Don Cameron, the executive director of the National Education Association, has announced plans to retire early next year, after guiding the country’s largest teachers’ union through nearly two decades of change and increasing influence.

Don Cameron

“I thought now is the time to do this,” Mr. Cameron, 62, said last week. “I’m in good health. I wanted to spend more time with my family and on my private life. The organization is going well, it’s on the right path, and I just feel I can leave now and feel confident.”

Mr. Cameron joined the NEA’s Washington headquarters in 1979 as assistant executive director, after working for the union’s state affiliates in Michigan and Florida. He was promoted to his current job four years later.

As the union’s top nonelected officer, Mr. Cameron has played a central but mostly behind-the-scenes role in reorganizing the staff to help carry out the policy changes called for by the four NEA presidents under whom he has worked in that capacity.

He arrived in Washington at a time of internal strife, when the NEA’s own employees often went on strike against the union’s management. Mr. Cameron is largely responsible for helping move beyond those disputes, allowing the national staff to devote more energy to serving the group’s state and local affiliates, said Keith Geiger, who served as the NEA president from 1990 to 1996.

“There is no question that the relations between the NEA and its state affiliates is the best it has ever been, and Don Cameron gets the credit for that,” Mr. Geiger said.

More recently, Mr. Cameron has helped reorganize the NEA staff to better support President Bob Chase’s call for a “new unionism” devoted to raising the standards of the teaching profession while still protecting workers’ rights.

‘Productive Period’

The union’s teaching and learning division, which focuses on school improvement issues, has been expanded from 25 to 43 professional staff members—now rivaling its government-relations department in size.

At 550 staff members, the overall size of the association’s headquarters is no larger than it was when Mr. Cameron took over, but the union’s membership has grown from about 1 million to 2.5 million.

Mr. Cameron said he won’t be seeking employment elsewhere after leaving the NEA. Instead, he hopes to spend part of his retirement writing about education reform and how the union evolved during the time he worked for the national organization and its state affiliates.

“It’s been probably one of the most productive periods in the NEA’s history,” he said. “We had the advent of collective bargaining, the advent of NEA involvement in politics, and now new unionism.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 16, 2000 edition of Education Week as Executive Director of NEA To Retire After Nearly 20 Years Behind Scenes

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online
School & District Management Webinar What's Ahead for Hybrid Learning: Putting Best Practices in Motion
It’s safe to say hybrid learning—a mix of in-person and remote instruction that evolved quickly during the pandemic—is probably here to stay in K-12 education to some extent. That is the case even though increasing

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Nearly 9 in 10 Teachers Willing to Work in Schools Once Vaccinated, Survey Finds
Nearly half of educators who belong to the National Education Association have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
4 min read
Nurse Sara Muela, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site setup for teachers and school staff at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa., on March 15, 2021.
Nurse Sara Muela, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site set up for teachers and school staff in Reading, Pa., on March 15.
Matt Rourke/AP
Teaching Profession Q&A Nation's Top Teachers Discuss the Post-Pandemic Future of the Profession
Despite the difficulties this school year brought, the four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year award say they're hopeful.
11 min read
National Teacher of the Year Finalists (clockwise from top left): Alejandro Diasgranados, Juliana Urtubey, John Arthur, Maureen Stover
National Teacher of the Year Finalists (clockwise from top left): Alejandro Diasgranados, Juliana Urtubey, John Arthur, Maureen Stover
Courtesy of CCSSO
Teaching Profession Teachers Are Stressed Out, and It's Causing Some to Quit
Stress, more so than low pay, is the main reason public school teachers quit. And COVID-19 has increased the pressure.
7 min read
Image of exit doors.
pavel_balanenko/iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion Should Teachers Be Prioritized for the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Not all states are moving teachers to the front of the vaccination line. Researchers discuss the implications for in-person learning.
6 min read
Teacher Lizbeth Osuna from Cooper Elementary receives the Moderna vaccine at a CPS vaccination site at Roberto Clemente High School in Chicago, Ill., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.
Chicago public school teacher Lizbeth Osuna receives the COVID-19 vaccine at a school vaccination site last week.
Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via AP