Dodea Director Declares War On Employees And Schools

DoDEA Director Tom Brady has declared war on his employees and the amazing school system they helped to create.

DoDEA has developed and is actively promoting legislation that, if approved by Congress, would gut employees' compensation, benefits, civil service protections, and most meaningful negotiation rights.

FEA was informed of the contents of the proposed statute earlier this month and first reported on it to members last week. This past weekend, at the FEA Stateside Region's (FEA-SR) Area Council Meeting, we learned the full extent of the harm the proposed law would wreak.

Mr. Ron James, Chief of the DoDEA Labor-Management/Employee Relations (LMER) department, briefed the FEA-SR council about the law, which was drafted and sent to Congress in secrecy by DoDEA, with no input from FEA or any of the thousands of employees we represent.

The law is being presented to Congress as an innocuous attempt to merge the Overseas and Americas systems into a single agency. DoDEA claims the change is necessary to improve efficiency and to further DoDEA's mission. Quite obviously, given the decades-long excellence of our schools (which was just recently again demonstrated by our students' outstanding performance on reading and math NAEP tests), our schools are already performing incredibly well and have no need for any of Mr. Brady's fixes.

The reality is that the proposed merger law is actually an excuse to strip DoDEA employees -- both Stateside and Overseas -- of their rights and benefits. The results of such action would be devastating to DoDEA.

Should the law be passed by Congress, Mr. James explained, the following areas would become the "sole and exclusive authority" of the Secretary of Defense, and would no longer be negotiable:

  • Compensation (DDESS employees have had the right to bargain pay, thanks to FEA action, since the early 90s; DoDDS employees have had their pay defined by a law that would be thrown out under this proposed statute)
  • Allowances (LQA, COLA, etc.)
  • Leave
  • Benefits (including pensions, health coverage, travel, etc.)
  • Performance management (including evaluations, disciplinary proceedings, appeals rights, etc.)

In other words, EVERYTHING meaningful that we have been able to bargain for Overseas and Stateside employees would be declared non-negotiable by management, if Congress approves this proposed law.

Should this law pass, it would unquestionably mark the beginning of the end of DoDEA as a quality school system. A school system that treats its employees so negatively cannot hope to attract the top-flight educational and support personnel that DoDEA has enjoyed for decades. The people who, along with the students themselves and their families, are most responsible for DoDEA's years-long record of academic excellence will retire in droves and/or be driven out by management, to be replaced by those who, apparently, cannot find employment anywhere else.

This proposed law is beyond unnecessary -- it is directly harmful to the quality of DoDEA schools. You cannot run a quality school system without quality employees, and you cannot attract and retain quality employees by treating them like dirt.

Sadly, this is the culmination of Mr. Brady's term as Director of DoDEA. Throughout his tenure, he has shown a willingness (at times it seems like an obsession!) to tear down his school-level employees in deference to management staff who know little or nothing about classroom education.

He now is seeking to make DoDEA unique among agencies in the entire federal government by not having to respect even the most basic rights and civil service protections granted to other employees. The priority is to make life easier for management, not better for students and classroom learning!

As an example, Mr. James, at his meeting with the FEA-SR Council, was repeatedly asked whether employees would continue to enjoy such basic rights and benefits as retaining the credit they have earned towards retirement. His response: "I believe so, but I don't know for certain" because, if the proposed statute were passed it would eliminate the current guarantees towards things like retirement and future policies would have to be developed by the Department of Defense.

To make this clear: DoDEA wants to wipe out existing rights and protections so it can write its own rules later.

This is a horrible piece of legislation proposed by Mr. Brady and DoDEA. It is an insult to the incredible hard work and the unarguably fantastic results produced by the same employees Mr. Brady claims to value. Those employees deserve so much better from Mr. Brady and from the system for which they've worked so diligently for so long.

DoDEA is seeking to have this proposal to merge the school systems and strip employees of their rights and privileges passed later this year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. FEA and NEA have already begun the process of educating lawmakers about the incredibly harmful implications of this law and we will do everything in our power to stop this shameful law from being enacted.

FEA members will need to play an active role in this fight. Additional plans and actions to fight this proposal are being worked out currently by FEA/NEA and will be made available to members and the public in the weeks ahead.

FEA hopes all DoDEA employees will recognize the threat this legislative proposal represents to your schools, your students and your careers as DoDEA employees. The future of our outstanding school system is at stake. We will fight for it, and we will need you to fight as well!

More to come in the days and weeks ahead.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU CAN DO TO TAKE ACTION ON THIS ISSUE CLICK HERE -- Only do so, however, when you are off duty, off government property and not using government equipment, such as a government-owned computer or DoDEA Outlook mail.