October 15, 2018 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: October 15, 2018
Last week I was able to visit with members in Ft. Knox and Ft. Campbell as well as attend the Stateside Area Council meeting. At Ft. Campbell, we were pleased to have Matthew Powell, ESP-at-Large on the NEA Board of Directors, join with us to visit schools and meet FEA members. We also attended a training session for new ESP leaders there. It is always great to spend time with our members.
At the Stateside Area Council, representatives from DoDEA management were present and took questions from the Stateside Presidents. Naturally, there were many questions concerning management's efforts to impose a harmful contract. When asked why management has proposed extending the duty day and what the additional time would be used for, DoDEA's Labor Management/Employee Relations representative refused to give a straight answer, hiding behind the bargaining process and procedures. The unwillingness to answer basic questions about this issue was stunning!
FEA has provided DoDEA with a great deal of input from the field about the misguided decision not to support the administration of the BAS with substitutes. Part of that input was a survey conducted by FEA leaders in the Pacific. The overwhelming results showed that teachers do not believe this practice produces good assessments or is good for students' learning. When presented with this data, instead of understanding the need for substitute support, DoDEA decided our teachers need more training in classroom management! The result is the voluntary "Module for Infusing Literacy Assessments in K-3 Classrooms." While the Association is always glad when management makes useful training available to educators, this is NOT a solution to the issue of administering the BAS without substitutes. Maybe some of those people making these decisions, who have not been in the classroom in years, should spend time in our classrooms modeling how this is done!
Once again, schools are facing shortages of subs. Classes are being combined, specialists are being pulled away from their students, and the education of our students is once again being negatively impacted. DoDEA touts its plans for improving schools but seems totally unable to improve support functions like HR and hiring.
TAX LAW IMPLICATIONS
The Association has sent numerous requests to DoDEA for clarification about how the new tax laws will impact teachers who have PCS'd or resigned/retired during 2018. So far, we have had NO response.
Yet again, some of our schools are suffering from the effects of tropical storms. For those directly impacted by the storms, you can find information about assistance for members affected by FEMA-declared disasters on the NEA Member Benefits site.
In addition, NEA Member Benefits is facilitating relief funding collections to help support impacted members. Individuals may contribute to the NEA Funds for victims of Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael via a special GoFundMe page. Please note that 100% of funds donated will go to affected NEA members and their families through their state affiliates. Information on donating can be found here.
Even if you are not directly impacted, the storms will be on our students' minds. For information on how to teach about hurricanes in your classroom, go to NEA's site. There are lessons for grades K-12.
Once again, three of our DoDEA schools are being recognized for their outstanding accomplishments. Congratulations to Alconbury Elementary School at RAF Alconbury in Huntingdon, United Kingdom; Patch Elementary School at U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart in Stuttgart, Germany; and E.A. White Elementary School at Fort Benning, GA, for being named National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2018!
AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK
Speaking of all the great work DoDEA schools do: American Education Week takes place November 12-16 and is a formal observance of the importance of public education as well as a recognition of all educators do. FEA has posted a sample article our local associations can customize and send to their local media, informing them of any plans your local has to celebrate the week. You can download that document by right-clicking this link. Be aware, many local papers have early deadlines for submissions so don't wait till the last minute. More information on AEW, including an online toolkit and artwork, can be found at NEA's American Education Week site.
INSURANCE OPEN SEASON
Open Season this year for the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program will be from November 12 to December 10. This is the time for those enrolled in these plans to change plans or coverage options (between self-only, self plus one, or family, for example). Retirees who have been continuously enrolled can also make changes at this time. This Open Season also applies to the separate Federal Dental and Vision Insurance programs as well as the FSA Healthcare Savings plan. Employees do not enroll in FSAFEDS through DoDEA but directly at www.fsafeds.com