October 10, 2016 FEA Pacific Area Report

COLLABORATION RELEASE TIME: Understanding that this is a work in progress we do have some concerns early on. Initially, we were told that half of the release time focus would be determined by the DSO while half would be determined at the school level through collaboration between the principal, FRS and faculty. We have already seen that promise broken. Without any discussion with the teachers or the Association, the DSOs have implemented six week training modules to ‘teach' teachers how to collaborate. The two days that are supposed to be determined at the school level should include rolling current meetings into this time. For example, grade level meetings, team meetings and department meetings should be accomplished during collaboration time; they are collaborative. The net effect is that we should reduce the number of after school meetings this SY. This was agreed upon with the Area Office but not all principals or superintendents are getting the message.

PROBATIONARY EDUCATORS: Management has made a commitment to help new teachers by reviving and developing mentoring and orienting programs. The Association will be working towards that end by providing input and reaching out to the new teachers. At the school level we all need to help our new teachers; support has waned in recent years. We would like to see the collaboration release time used for this purpose.

TRAINING: The Association will continue to push for better training for our teachers. I'm not talking about CCR, CSI or AdvancEd training. I'm talking about more practical and pressing training such as Aspen for SPED teachers, Jobs-Alike Training, on site computer programs, new curriculum (the actual material, not theory or paradigm shifting), nuts & bolts of your school for new teachers, etc.

CCR TRAINING: They just don't get it. As long as DoDEA continues to treat teacher input as irrelevant and stick to a clearly flawed approach the result will be the same. What's that definition of insanity? DoDEA HQ seems more focused on fulfilling their contractual agreements to corporations rather than their contractual agreements with the Association, its teachers and students. If DoDEA HQ would simply respect teachers by first involving them in the process, listening to their input and implementing changes that make the training more effective, we would save a lot of time and get what we are paying for. Unfortunately, DoDEA HQ continues to double down not accepting that teachers have anything of value to offer other than to follow orders from non-educators.

ACCOUNTABILITY: We increasingly hear the word accountability thrown around by Management. It's the new darling of educational reform but what does it mean and who does it apply to? Too often the "A" word is used in reference to teachers. Rarely do we hear it uttered in reference to Management or HR. AdvancED maintains that there are seven levels of accountability necessary for student success: 1) state 2) school system 3) school 4) principal 5) teachers 6) parents and 7) students. For accountability to be effective, it must also be coupled with transparency, inclusion and participation. True accountability as espoused by AdvancED is not achievable in the DoDEA culture of today.

THE PACIFIC HR: Information from the September 2016 Consultations -- Teachers should contact their school secretary for HR assistance and if they are unable to obtain the information or services they seek, they may contact our HR Deputy, Ms. Jennifer Birkhead at for assistance. Currently, the HR employees are located at the Region Office, Torii Station and Okinawa. Employees can also email questions to the inbox for each location:
* Okinawa Inquires:
Japan Inquires:
Korea Inquires:

ARTICLES of INTEREST: "Have you ever seen a school data wall? These kinds of public displays send a message: This school cares about student performance by the numbers. You've probably heard about the positive side of all that data gathering and sharing. But as "data-driven" education becomes more popular, critics are also raising a range of concerns."

What's at risk when schools focus too much on student data
"Regular readers of this blog know that some wealthy foundations -- especially the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation but also the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation -- have in recent years taken unusually active roles in trying to align public policy with their education goals, such as the Common Core Standards and charter schools. Indeed the involvement of foundations in corporate school reform has been an attempt to change public education to operate like a private business rather than as a civic institution. This is unprecedented in the history of American public education. The Broad Foundation has been the most aggressive and the least apologetic foundation of the four."
New book: Obama's education department and Gates Foundation were closer than you thought.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "A sense of responsibility in teaching pushes us constantly to think about and promote the best interests of our students. In contrast, the demand for accountability often induces mere compliance." -- Nel Noddings

Randy Ricks
FEA Pacific Area Director