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October 1 2008 FEA President's Report

To: FEA Members and Local Leaders Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: October 1, 2008


NSPS -- The Pentagon will attempt to place DDESS educators under so-called Pay-for-Performance as part of its latest effort to impose its National Security Personnel Policy (NSPS) on civilian employees. FEA is already working on a lawsuit it will soon file, seeking to have our DDESS educators excluded from the Pay-for-Performance plan. Neither ESP's (who are wage grade employees) in DDESS, nor educators in DoDDS are threatened by the Pay-for-Performance aspects of NSPS. We are still seeking clarification on the impact for ESPs who are not wage grade employees, such as Teaching Assistants. The Pentagon, however, is claiming that DDESS teachers are subject to Pay-for-Performance because they are in a different job category than other FEA members.

DoD's revised regulations for NSPS were published last Friday in the Federal Register. FEA will seek to delay the implementation of NSPS on our members until our lawsuit can be resolved.

Neither Collective Bargaining nor the right to Due Process for employees accused of wrongdoing are threatened under this latest revision to NSPS. This is because lawmakers, responding to information received from FEA and other associations representing DoD civilian employees, included specific protections for those rights in the 2008 DoD Authorization bill. Oddly, the Pentagon is not disputing that DDESS educators have the right to bargain pay, even though forcing Pay-for-Performance on them would clearly violate that right.

FEA and other professional associations representing DoD civilian employees have been fighting the Bush administration's efforts to illegally impose NSPS on our members for over five years now. Despite numerous admonitions from Congress that NSPS was violating the intent of the law originally passed allowing a new personnel system, the Pentagon time-and-again has tried to overstep its authority and strip away basic rights and protections with NSPS. FEA will continue to fight these efforts as long as it takes.

GRADESPEED -- FEA is working with DoDEA headquarters on their press releases regarding Gradespeed implementation. DoDEA staff has reviewed all communication products and documents produced for Gradespeed deployment. They have:
Deleted language addressing the number or frequency of grades teachers post.
Deleted references to specific timelines for teacher responses.
Deleted references to a pilot in K-3 or implementation in School Year 09-10.
DoDEA will soon be distributing its guidance for parents/guardians/students on the use of Gradespeed.

FOURTH AND FIFTH GRADE REPORT CARD -- DoDEA headquarters has clarified, on the new fourth and fifth grade report card, that "Health Education" will move up to be a graded area, and "FLES" will be removed (since it is not offered in those upper grades). Also, DoDEA headquarters has provided guidance on the "Performance Grades" (EMSL). The Student Performance (markings) describes performance levels of student work as it compares to the student's grade (placement). For example, "E" demonstrates working above grade level with excellent work; "M" demonstrates working at grade level with above satisfactory performance; "S" demonstrates steady progress toward grade level with satisfactory performance; and "L" demonstrates a need for improvement. These grades are intended to communicate achievement only and do not reflect student behavior, effort and/or attitude. The DoDEA standards are on the back of the report card.

OUTSTANDING! -- Since my last update, we've learned of a few more locations that have reached 100 percent FEA membership. This is truly a fantastic achievement and I want to again recognize, congratulate and thank the FRSs/local presidents listed below, as well as their membership teams and entire memberships, for doing so much to support FEA. If your school achieves 100 percent membership at any time, please send a message to ghritz@nea.org so we can recognize you as well. And even if you are not able to achieve this lofty goal, we thank all of our building reps, FRSs and others working on membership as you strive toward reaching our Plus 1 goal of increasing your building's overall membership by at least one member more than you had last school year. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do, and thank you especially to all our members everywhere for joining together to make FEA YOUR professional association!

Please join me in recognizing these three schools and their respective leaders for achieving 100 percent membership this school year:
McCool Elementary/Middle School, Guam -- Jan Goldhorn, FRS
Wiesbaden Middle School -- Choochie Calloway, FRS
Dahlgren School, Virginia -- Angela Minnick, President

HATCH ACT -- All federal employees are subject to the Hatch Act, which governs what we can and cannot do in regards to elections and political activities affecting the government. FEA recently posted links to information from the government's Office of Special Counsel on some major "Do's and Don'ts" you should follow as a federal worker. Among those are:
Do not use government computers or engage in political activity during work time.
Do not send political material to someone else's DoDEA or government email account.
If you get unsolicited political email on your DoDEA email, immediately delete it.
You can find the link to the Hatch Act information on FEA's Web site at www.feaonline.org

ABSENTEE VOTING OPTION -- Voters in overseas areas should mail in their absentee ballots by October 14 to ensure they are counted in the November election, though mailing the ballots earlier is an even better idea. If you have requested an absentee ballot but not yet received it, it is suggested that you visit the nonpartisan Overseas Vote Foundation Web site to download the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. This ballot has been created to serve as a backup in case your regular absentee ballot does not arrive in time. The above Web site also includes general voting/registration information specifically for U.S. citizens overseas. FEA Stateside members should contact their local elections office for voting information.

RELIEF FOR FELLOW EDUCATORS -- Over 9,000 of our fellow educators in the Texas State Teachers Association have been impacted by the recent destruction cause by Hurricane Ike in the Houston/Galveston area of Texas. For those of you who have asked about helping out, a special fund has been created to collect and distribute donations specifically to TSTA/NEA members affected by the storm. Please note that donations made through this fund are NOT tax deductible. Donations should be sent to:
TSTA Hurricane Ike Relief Fund
316 W. 12th Street
Austin, TX 78701

MEMBER BENEFITS VISIT -- Michael Gavin, our Regional Representative from NEA's Member Benefits Corporation, is currently on a two-week visit to FEA locals in Europe to present information on cyber security, avoiding identify theft, and taking advantage of the many programs and services available to our members through Member Benefits (www.neamb.com) . Michael has already visited the Lakenheath area and will be at SHAPE and Brussels American School the rest of this week before heading to Wiesbaden, Heidelberg, Bamberg/Schweinfurt and Vilseck/Grafenwoehr next week. In addition, Michael presented information at this past weekend's FEA Stateside Area Council meeting and has done presentations earlier this school year at Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg, Fort Stewart and Quantico. I hope our members in Europe will take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the many goods and services available through Member Benefits.

PACIFIC VISIT -- FEA Executive Director/General Counsel H.T. Nguyen and I will be visiting members in the Pacific for the next 10 days. We will be in Okinawa, Korea and Japan, where we will visit schools, attend association meetings and sit in on part of the PAL (FEA's Pacific Leadership Council) meeting. Both HT and I look forward to hearing directly from our members and local leaders during these visits.

Have a great week!