FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: June 12, 2018
Look for an update from the FEA Washington DC office later this week about the status of various issues -- including DoDEA's merger proposal and taxes on moving assistance and allowances -- that I'm sure are on the minds of many members as we prepare to depart for the summer. Next year already looks to be even more challenging, so get some rest this summer and come back ready to stand up more than ever for your profession, for your students and for yourself.
STAY IN TOUCH
Continue to visit FEA's web site at www.feaonline.org and to follow us on Facebook or Twitter to stay apprised of the latest news and information affecting DoDEA employees over the summer. Also, if you do not receive updates from the FEA Washington DC office, such as this President's Report, directly at your personal (non DoDEA) email address, please notify our Director of Communications, Gary Hritz, at this email.
As I look back over this school year, it has been a frustrating one. Poor communication, poor professional development, new initiatives, lack of HR support, PARCC, DTS and the list goes on. One of the major frustrations, again, has been IT and lack of support. When the Association has brought IT issues to DoDEA, our emails and our concerns have been ignored. Throughout the entire year, we have asked for information about the rollout of Windows 10, but none has been provided. DoDEA wants students to use technology in our schools and wants "21st Century Instruction" but simply has not provided the reliable network support or staffing for that technology. This is NOT "Excellence in Education."
As you look back on the year, it is good to reflect on the successes which you have certainly had during the year….that student who made such great progress, the family you connected with, the student who thanked you for that extra help, all of those moments…in the rush and pressure of the school year, sometimes we don't celebrate those moments like we should. As we have noted, in spite of the obstacles we have faced this year, once again, DoDEA students outperformed their peers in the NAEP rankings. Give yourself, or a colleague, a pat on the back. YOU do make a difference.
RED FOR RESPECT
One of the things I'm most excited about from the past year is the number of members throughout the world who, on their own initiative, choose to Wear Red for Respect in order to let management know they are not happy with the treatment they are receiving. Management would like nothing better than to ignore the many problems they cause through top-down directives and half-baked initiatives. The Wear Red for Respect movement is a reminder that the problems are there, they are not going to be fixed via management edict, and employees are not going to let management sweep these issues under the rug. I hope everyone picks up a few new red shirts this summer and this movement keeps going.
Although we were originally led to believe that teachers would be asked to complete this year's FedView survey, we are now being told that since teachers are classed as "seasonal" employees, we will not be included in the survey this year. I have to wonder if this omission is intentional given the growing concerns in our schools. This is particularly disturbing given that DoDEA does not conduct climate surveys to gather information about the working conditions of our employees. DoDEA always claims to be a data driven organization but HQ seems to avoid gathering data that will be critical and ignores the data that does not fit DoDEA's narrative.
The FEA Annual Membership meeting will take place June 29 and 30 at the InterContinental Hotel in St. Paul, MN. The meeting is open to all FEA members (Active and Retired). No pre-registration is necessary but, if you do plan to attend, please send a note to FEA's Gary Hritz at this email so we can have an idea of what our headcount will be and make sure we have adequate space for everyone. The FEA meeting takes place immediately before the NEA Representative Assembly (NEA-RA) being held July 1-5 in Minneapolis. Twenty-four of your fellow FEA members have been elected by you to serve as delegates to the NEA-RA. Learn more about that meeting at this site.
TSP FACT SHEET
Last year, the TSP Modernization Act was passed into law, adding significantly more options and flexibility in the ways feds are allowed to make withdrawals on their TSP accounts. This fact sheet presents info about some of the major changes that will take effect once the bill has been fully implemented, click here.
SUMMER OFFICE HOURS
The NEA building in Washington DC, home to FEA's DC office, is closed on Friday's during the summer (from July 13 through Labor Day). As a result, FEA's offices are also closed on Fridays during that span. Please keep this in mind if you drop by or call our DC office during the summer. E-mail, of course, never shuts down, so that is usually the best way to reach our office.
As most of our overseas schools close for the summer in the coming days, I want to thank our members for your hard work and dedication this year. DoDEA continues to excel because of the great work our educators and students do in our schools. In the constant and sometimes chaotic flux of DoDEA's changing initiatives and priorities, DoDEA faculty and staff in our schools continue to do what is best for students.
Thank you too, for your support and membership in FEA. It is a privilege for your elected officials and the staff of FEA to advocate for and support you. FEA knows that the experts in our system are in our schools and classrooms and we will continue to be your voice on the issues that impact our schools, our members and our students. Adding to that voice is the strong support of our 3,000,000-member NEA family, which is more important than ever.
To those of you who are retiring or otherwise leaving DoDEA, thank you for a job very well done and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. To those who, like me, will be returning next school year: have a safe, relaxing and fun summer break. Next year will certainly bring more challenges. Use the summer to recharge and relax and, as you do every year, come back ready to provide a world-class education to our students.