November 15 2009 FEA President's ReportTo: FEA Members and Local Leaders Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: November 15, 2009
MORE OF THE SAME -- For a while now, FEA has been warning that the direction DoDEA is taking under Dr. Miles is toward a top-down approach in which outside input/feedback is not sought. The Association has been seeing evidence of this for some time, as have the school-level faculty and staff. Now, parents and local school boards (in locations where they are utilized) are beginning to see the same, as evidenced by this recent article about potential staffing changes at Fort Campbell schools. In response to parents' concerns that certain positions are unnecessarily being relocated or eliminated, Dr. Miles says, "My main focus is on student achievement, not on making sure people stop losing jobs." This statement strikes me as incongruous, considering that DoDEA began this school year by cutting teaching positions that focused on increasing student achievement of at-risk kids. All of these actions, including her recent actions in DDESS, are done without the knowledge or input from the communities involved.
DODEA TASK FORCES SCHEDULED TO MEET NEXT MONTH --Dr. Shirley Miles has created 4 additional task forces to address 21st Century Skills, Early Childhood Education, Middle Schools, and Scheduling/Staffing in Secondary Schools. FEA has raised strong objections with DoDEA Headquarters over the "Confidentiality Agreements" participants on DoDEA task forces are being required to sign. FEA has asserted that all members of the task force need to be able to gather information from their colleagues and community in order to guide the direction and discussions at these meetings. FEA believes that true transparency is needed in the educational decision making process. Again, we are expecting a response from HQ's this week.
SURVEY COMING -- FEA continues to work with Headquarters to develop a meaningful survey of educators on the recent schoolwide in-services conducted on UDDI (Utilizing Date for Differential Instruction), Terra Nova Modules/Blue Book and the new Standards. We have sent follow up questions about the survey to DoDEA and are awaiting their response. If done properly, this survey would be very useful in measuring attitudes about these issues. We expect to finalize the survey this week. No additional in-service training should be conducted until this survey has been completed.
H1N1 (SWINE FLU) -- Management's directives dealing with educators duties/responsibilities in the event of an outbreak of H1N1 flu at their location continues to be held in abeyance while we attempt to resolve issues. FEA is aware that a directive was sent by HQ's on October 1 to the field to have school plans in place by October 30. FEA is addressing overriding issues such as how long of a school closure would be necessary to trigger these plans into becoming active, making sure that staff's and students' health and safety are not placed in jeopardy by exposing them to the virus, and making sure that educators are compensated for extra work assigned. These proposals were submitted last month. A special update will come later this week on this important matter.
NACI -- FEA and DoDEA have not yet completed bargaining on how the National Agency Check Investigation (NACI) background checks are to be accomplished in our schools. If you are asked to complete any forms or submit to fingerprinting in relation to NACI, do not do so. Instead, you should immediately contact the FEA Washington office for guidance (your building rep/FRS can help you to reach our office).
FACE TO FACE -- I want to thank FEA Human & Civil Rights Coordinator Wanda Beatty for organizing the training on assertiveness and leadership skills held last week at Fort Jackson. Thank you, as well, to all those FEA members who gave up their weekend to attend the training. Daniel Hand from NEA, who has conducted several trainings for FEA over the past year, did another excellent job and I was very grateful for the opportunity to address the attendees as well. I've posted some pictures from the training in the Face to Face section at www.feaonline.org (see the "Quick Links" menu in the right-hand margin of the Home page)
AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK -- This week, November 15-21, is American Education Week. Additionally, November 18 is Educational Support Professionals (ESP) day. Look for FEA's ad in this Monday's edition of the Stars & Stripes, celebrating American Education Week and all those who make the excellence of our school system possible. Every one of you is playing a HUGE role in making our schools great. Have a great American Education Week and thank you for all you do every single day!
ESP DAY -- As I mentioned above, Wednesday, November 18, is Educational Support Professional Day. The ESPs are truly the people who make our schools run. Congratulations and thank you to all of our Stateside ESP members on this, your special day. Please be sure to show your support professionals the respect and gratitude they deserve every day, but especially on the 18th.
SS SOFTWARE INSTALL -- The new software for the DoDEA Social Studies curriculum should be installed this coming week. FEA has requested that additional inservice training on this software be conducted. We are still awaiting a response to our request from DoDEA Headquarters.
FEHB OPEN SEASON -- The Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) plan Open Season is running now through December 14. Find information on plan benefits, enrollment instructions and much more at http://www.opm.gov/INSURE/HEALTH/INDEX.ASP
IMPORTANT INFORMATION -- FEA recently sent information packets to all building reps/FRSs about the upcoming elections for at-large offices on the FEA Board of Directors. The same information is available on the FEA Website at www.feaonline.org. The deadline for nominating yourself or another FEA Active member for office is December 18, 2009. Please consider running. FEA needs your involvement!!
JOURNAL -- The November FEA Journal will be mailed to members in a few days. Keep an eye on your mailbox for your issue of the newsletter.
IMPORTANT UPDATES COMING THIS WEEK/SIGN UP AND GET THE NEWS DIRECTLY -- Having this update and future updates sent directly to your e-mail is easy. Just go to www.feaonline.org/listserv.htm and login using your FEA membership ID number (available on the membership card you receive from FEA and on your copy of the FEA Journal, or email us at email@example.com).
Have a great weekend, and a fantastic American Education Week!