November 1, 2013 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: November 1, 2013
It was recently announced that, once again, the Department of Defense is going to spend taxpayer money to conduct a study of our DDESS schools. While management claims there are no preconceived notions with this study, I think we are all aware that the present budget-cutting mania means no program, even one as important and successful as DDESS schools, is entirely safe.
The FEA Washington office will be working with our DDESS Local Associations to assist them in getting information out about how great our schools are and how crucial a role they play in the lives of military students and their parents. The study is expected to include focus group discussions with various stakeholders on and off base, including parents, students and school staff. The Rand Corporation is conducting the study and can make any recommendations it wishes. The study should be completed by fall 2014.
There have been numerous studies of the effectiveness and value of DDESS schools in the past and, while we have successfully fought off past efforts to consider transferring DDESS schools to the Local Education Agencies outside their gates, we must not take this current study lightly. As I said above, the current budget situation has created a very different atmosphere, in which the Pentagon is more willing than ever to consider any options presented to it. We will keep members informed about this issue, including what you can do to help, in the weeks and months ahead.
FURLOUGH TIME DURING SHUTDOWN
Most FEA members should have seen no interruption to your pay during the October government shutdown. If you had taken paid leave during the shutdown and initially had that leave changed to furlough time, the leave time should have been converted back to paid leave after the shutdown ended. If this did not happen, FEA recommends you immediately contact your school administration and request that the furlough time be converted back to paid leave. Please let your FRS know immediately of any pay problems you experience. We urge all members to watch their LES statements closely at all times but especially now, in the wake of the shutdown.
Andersen Middle School in Guam has achieved 100 percent Association membership for the current school year. FEA is so grateful to the members at Andersen for their support and trust. If your school has reached 100 percent membership this year, please send a notice to FEA Communications Director Gary Hritz at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can recognize your accomplishment. Thank you again to everyone at Andersen MS!
FMLA COVERAGE FOR SAME-SEX SPOUSES
OPM recently issued a memo (available here) clarifying the availability of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for same-sex spouses. Retroactive to June 26, 2013, according to the memo, federal employees are now eligible to use FMLA leave to care for a same-sex spouse with a serious health condition (including care for a same-sex spouse who gives birth to a child), to care for a same-sex spouse who is a covered servicemember with an injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty on active duty, or for qualified exigencies while a same-sex spouse is on covered active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty status in accordance with the statue at 5 U.S.C. chapter 63, subchapter V, and the regulations at 5 CFR part 630, subpart L. Prior to the Supreme Court's invalidation of parts of the Defense of Marriage Act last June, such leave was only available to opposite-sex spouses. The OPM memo also says federal employees who took otherwise-qualifying leave for a same-sex spouse between June 26, 2013, and the October 21, 2013 issuing of the memo may retroactively re-designate such time off as FMLA leave. For more details and information, read the complete memo here.
The New York Times recently posted an interesting story on "flipped" classrooms that included comments and information from FEA members in Baumholder, Germany. You can read the story by going to the New York Times site.
AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK
Don't forget, American Education Week is coming up November 18-22, with Education Support Professional Day taking place on Wednesday, November 20. FEA has posted a sample story you can use in your local publications or send to on-base media, available at www.feaonline.org. You can also find other materials and ideas for celebrating at www.nea.org/aew
November is designated as Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month. NEA offers a number of resources you can use to learn more about these cultures and incorporate information into your lesson plans and activities. You can find that information at this site.
FEA members know the courage and sacrifice of our military members firsthand. On November 11, we honor those who have served by observing Veterans Day. Find lessons, activities and other resources you can use in your classroom to honor veterans by going to this page.
I will be visiting our locals at Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune this week, stopping by schools and meeting with members after school. I'm eager to hear directly from our members at both complexes about the issues that are on their minds. Thank you in advance to our leaders at both Lejeune and Bragg for setting up my visits.