January 31, 2016 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: January 31, 2016
The transfer round, already delayed a few days last week due to a winter storm that shutdown the DC area, got underway this past Thursday (January 28) but then immediately fell victim to more bad luck. The entire Marc Center building, where DoDEA headquarters is located, lost power all day Friday, halting any work on the program until at least Monday (assuming power can be restored by then).
Assuming things get back on track Monday, FEA transfer guru Connie Shanaghan will be there, representing our members and assuring that all procedures are followed correctly. I sat in on Thursday and plan to do so at least one or two days this coming week.
This most recent delay just adds to the difficulty and frustration the transfer program has already generated this year. The Association VERY strongly advocated to delay the transfer round until at least February 1 in order to allow applicants better access to the vacancy list, which was still being updated at the time the transfer round began on Thursday. Unfortunately, DoDEA HQ would not agree to our request, demonstrating once again that DoDEA is not interested in fully implementing a transfer program designed to benefit its current employees.
Once things do resume, we expect the transfer round to take at least a week to 10 days and potentially longer than that. As per past practice, FEA will not release any information on transfer placements until the transfer round has been completed and transfer notifications have been sent out. We will update members as soon as that happens. If you have questions after the transfer round ends, you can send them to Connie at this email. Be sure to include your transfer group and SCD.
As of Friday, 49 of the 50 VSIP/VERA offers DODDS was authorized to make available to non-excessed educators had been accepted. We expect the 50th VSIP/VERA offer to be accepted next week, thus ending that program. Some members have asked whether VERA offerings (without VSIP) can be made under this program once all the VSIP/VERA slots are gone. The answer from DoDEA is "no." Once all 50 offers have been accepted, that program is done. The only possibility of additional VSIP/VERA may be after the transfer round is completed, to help place excessed educators who could not be placed in the transfer round. If such offers are made, the offers would be based upon teaching category matches to help place those excessed educators, not upon the SCDs of VSIP/VERA applicants.
Although FEA Director for DDESS Jane Loggins and I have asked, there is no announcement yet from management whether VSIP/VERA will be offered to DDESS employees this year.
We have received some questions about Conference days on next year's calendar for our overseas schools.. In discussions with DODDS on the calendar, we were assured that elementary schools would continue to have three parent teacher conference days for next year. While DODDS proposed taking some of that time away, the Association advocated for keeping the three days schools currently have. FEA recognizes the importance of meeting and speaking with parents on a regular basis.
Sign up to get our Updates sent directly to your home email. To do so, just go to this link. You will need your FEA membership number to sign up (the number is printed on your Association membership card and is also printed on the address panel of the FEA Journal that was recently mailed to each member). We typically send this e-newsletter out twice a month (on approximately the 1st and 15th of each month), with special updates and bulletins as necessary throughout the school year. As educators, we know knowledge is power, so be sure to get the most timely information.
NATIONAL SCHOOL COUNSELING WEEK
February 1-5 is National School Counseling Week. Let me add my thanks to all of our school counselors, who provide invaluable services to students, parents and their fellow faculty members throughout the year.
DATA BREACH UPDATES
Be sure to periodically visit OPM's Cybersecurity page at this link for the latest news and information on the data breaches affecting federal employees and, in some instances, their family members.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
The NEA site has a wealth of resources you can use in your classroom to observe Black History Month in February. View them at this site.
NEW COURSE AVAILABLE FROM FEA EUROPE HCR PROGRAM
The FEA Europe HCR program is branching into the development of online courses for credit and has started with "Resources in Holocaust Pedagogy," a course that brings together experts in Holocaust Pedagogy, International Law, and Genocide Studies for educators across DoDEA. Developed by Patricia Hannon, Bavaria District Coordinator and Museum Teacher Fellow with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, this course has been approved for graduate credit and is being piloted in Europe during Quarter 3 of this SY. if you wish to be a part of the same online course planned for Quarter 4 of SY 2015/16, please see specific details and fill out the form at the link below and we will send you information for registering as soon as it is available. For more information, view this link.
NEA's READ ACROSS AMERICA
Read Across America day on March 2 is barely a month away. Visit the Read Across America site now to download materials, view ideas for reading events you can stage, and download tools you can use to promote your reading event to your local community. This is the 18th year for NEA's Read Across America and, as always, we know our members around the world will ensure the annual celebration of reading and the legacy of Dr. Seuss will be a global event. Please let us know what you'll be doing by dropping us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org (include your school name and location in your message and as much specific detail as possible, such as times/locations and a description of your reading events).
Another item from our Association's past in recognition of FEA's 60th anniversary in 2016:
A May 1966 survey of OEA members (at the time, FEA was known as the Overseas Education Association, or OEA) asking them to describe traits of principals revealed that some things remain the same no matter how much time passes.
Participants were first asked to answer four questions by selecting from the following options: "always", "often", "usually", "seldom", or "never." The four questions asked were:
1. Does it appear to you that your principal considers teachers' opinions and knowledge in forming school policies?
2. Does your faculty as a group help form school policies by a majority vote?
3. Do your faculty committees help form school policies by a majority vote?
4. Do you feel that faculty committees really function and make a significant contribution to the operation of your school's educational program?
Participants were then asked to select from a list of words and phrases that best described their building's principal. Not surprisingly, the results showed those educators who answered more favorably to the four questions above had more positive views of their building principal.
Of those respondents who answered all four of the above questions with "always", "often" or "usually", the five most commonly selected descriptions for their principals were "flexible", "approachable", "confident", "organized", and "up to date."
Of those respondents who answered all four questions with "seldom" or "never", the five most commonly selected descriptions for their principals were "generates doubt and insecurity", "insecure", "evasive, ‘passes the buck'", "stifles discussion", and "ignores personnel difficulties."
What was true 50 years ago is still true today: good, effective leadership requires administrators who aren't afraid to listen to their staffs. Unfortunately, we find ourselves living in an era when such traits in building principals are increasingly discouraged by DoDEA management.