January 18 2012 FEA President's Report

To: FEA Members and Local Leaders Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: January 18, 2012

TRANSFER PROGRAM -- FEA and DoDEA Headquarters met last week on the DoDDS Transfer Program and continue to meet this week, but as of this writing (Tuesday afternoon in Washington DC), we still have a few minor details to work out before the details of this year's transfer program are finalized. We expect to reach agreement soon on these final details. We will send out additional information as soon as we have done so and the transfer agreement is concluded, hopefully later this week or early next week.

DODEA BUDGET CUTS -- As you know, the Department of Defense is looking at major budget cuts due to the failure of the Congressional "Super Committee" to reach agreement on cost savings. In the long term, it appears this will result in 10,000-15,000 additional troops being moved out of Europe. How this will affect DoDEA schools in Europe is unclear at this point, but additional school closures will almost certainly be inevitable. More immediately, the deficit-reduction effort has caused the Pentagon to cut DoDEA's budget. DoDEA Director Marilee Fitzgerald has decided these budget cuts will be absorbed solely at the DoDEA Headquarters level, so as to not impact the classroom level. Furthermore, she reaffirmed that staffing standards for school personnel in School Year 2012-2013 will remain the same as those for the current school year.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR K-3 TEACHERS AND READING SPECIALISTS --DoDEA Headquarters is conducting an electronic survey about the BAS (Benchmark Assessment System). FEA is opposed to the DoDEA survey and we urge our members NOT to participate.
We object to the DoDEA version of the survey because it appears the questions were written in such a way as to provide confirmation only of the positive aspects of the BAS and avoid addressing problem areas, such as concerns about time constraints, violations of the BAS agreement between FEA and DoDEA, and negative impacts upon the classroom environment and student learning. We are opposed to any survey instrument that has been designed to reach a pre-determined conclusion, as this management-created survey clearly does.

FEA CONDUCTING ITS OWN BAS SURVEY -- In response to the flawed survey put forth by DoDEA, FEA will be posting its own BAS survey next week for all DoDDS K-3 teachers and reading specialists. Our survey is designed to look at ALL aspects of the BAS, including benefits to students, effects of BAS on the entire class, the amount of time involved in giving the BAS, and how it guides and leverages instruction.
FEA wants a complete and honest evaluation of the pros and cons of this assessment, conducted in an unbiased fashion. We strongly believe it is important to hear directly from the classroom level and not seek pre-determined conclusions.
FEA will distribute more information about our online survey when it is made available next week.

DFAS DISCLOSURE OF SSNs -- FEA was recently informed of a situation in which DFAS erroneously disclosed personal information, including names and social security numbers, belonging to an unknown number of DoDEA educators and employees. That information was included in information DFAS shared with a third party. DFAS has sent letters to the employees affected by this release of information. FEA has asked DoDEA Headquarters to ensure that all affected employees are properly identified and contacted and that DFAS be required to cover the cost of credit-monitoring services for all affected employees.

DOMESTIC PARTNERS -- FEA's legal department has posted an update on the issue of obtaining certain benefits for same-sex domestic partners. You can read that update by going to this page.

I hope your 2012 is off to a great start so far!