November 1 2017 FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members and Leaders Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: November 1, 2017


Later this week, FEA and DoDEA will hold their initial meeting to discuss details of the Transfer Program for the Pacific and Europe. Early indications are that DoDEA intends to fund this year's program at the same $4.5 million amount as last year's program. FEA and its members feel this amount needs to be increased so that more transfer opportunities are available, as promised to overseas employees at the time they were hired. We will update our members as details of this year's program are finalized.


Despite FEA repeatedly explaining the difficulties it would cause for classroom educators and the negative impact it will have on assessment accuracy and overall student learning, DoDEA has shown no willingness to back off it's unilateral decision to stop providing substitute coverage during future administrations of the BAS assessments in elementary schools. FEA will litigate this issue.


Open Season this year for the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program will be from November 13 to December 11. 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 this site.


DoDEA often talks about the importance of communicating with families, about fostering partnerships with communities, etc. However, DoDEA has now decided it is a good idea to CUT the number of conference days, when educators have a chance to speak face to face with the families of their students. While management continues to push teachers to do newsletters, email parents, and communicate on a regular basis, they are CUTTING one of the most effective means of communicating and establishing a positive relationship with families. We are fortunate in DoDEA that our military communities recognize the value of these conference days and support the military sponsors' attendance at them. It is too bad that DoDEA does not understand the importance of these face-to-face conversations, so FEA will also have to take legal action on this issue as well.

Sadly, this is just part of a bigger issue. DoDEA does not listen to, or respect, the people who actually do the work of educating students.


Last week, FEA Executive Director HT Nguyen, Communications Director Gary Hritz and I attended the Stateside Area Council meeting. It was a great chance to meet and speak with leaders from FEA Stateside. On Friday, we were joined by Dr. Judith Minor and Dr. Emily Marsh for a discussion of issues facing our schools. Our FEA-SR leaders did a great job of articulating the concerns and issues which have impacted our schools this year.


November 6-9, the FEA BoD will be meeting in Washington DC, here at the NEA Building. Over the years, in our efforts to cuts costs, we now limit our BoD meetings to twice a year, once in the fall and once in the summer, immediately preceding the FEA Annual Meeting and NEA RA. The BoD meeting gives our elected officials a chance to work together and to meet with NEA officials as well as DoDEA HQ management. While we use email, phone and virtual meetings throughout the year, this face-to-face meeting time is extremely valuable. Please be patient if it takes a little longer for your representatives or our DC staff to answer your emails during this very busy week.


This special week, November 13-17, will give all Americans a wonderful opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education. For art work, posters, and more information on how to celebrate the great work our schools do, go to NEA's American Education Week page.


Now is the time to consider running for a spot as a delegate to the NEA Representative Assembly (NEA-RA) in Minneapolis, MN. That meeting will take place July 1-5, 2018, and will be preceded by the FEA Annual Membership Meeting, June 29 an 30, 2018, in St. Paul, MN. Information on how to run for delegate and election timelines/deadlines can be obtained from your building's Association Representative or FEA Area Director.


A reminder as we all start to think ahead to holiday travel and shopping: the NEA Member Benefits site has loads of discount programs, such as NEA Click & Save, available exclusively to Association members. Go to NEA Member Benefits and click on the "Discounts" tab to see what sort of deals are awaiting you.


On November 11, we honor the wartime service and sacrifice of men and women in the armed forces. Originally proclaimed Armistice Day in 1919 to commemorate the end of World War I, it was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to include American veterans of all wars. For lessons, activities, games, and resources that will help your students celebrate service men and women past and present, go to this page.