November 15, 2016 FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: November 15, 2016


As this update goes out, details of this year's Transfer Program are still being worked out. We hope it will be finalized soon and we will let members know as soon as we can!


From November 15- 18 the FEA Board of Directors will meet here in the NEA Building in Washington DC. As good as email, telephones and teleconferences are, they are no replacement for face-to-face meetings. It will be a busy week with a very full agenda. Please understand if your leaders cannot respond quickly to your emails during this time.


As we celebrate American Education Week across the country, and truly across the world, let me once again thank DoDEA educators for your dedicated service to military connected children. DoDEA is celebrating its 70th Anniversary this year, and its long record of providing an outstanding education for the students in our schools is due to those who work with students every day. Take time to reflect on your successes, to thank your colleagues and to be proud of the work you do. Nov 16 is a special day this week to honor the ESP's who are such a vital part of our schools and our students' education. Here's wishing you all a wonderful week.


Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Open Season begins this week and runs through December 12, 2016. The open season website is located here.

This home page for the Federal Benefits Open Season has all the resources employees need to make informed decisions about their health, dental, vision, or flexible spending account benefits (remember, you must renew flexible spending accounts each year -- they do not automatically renew). The site also includes a plan comparison tool as well as access to the various plan brochures for active and retired feds.


Rosa Buser (LIMS) and Linda Barnwell (Kindergarten), teachers at Kimberly Hampton Primary School, were recently named DoDEA State level winners of 2016 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. PAEMST are the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science.) Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education. Congratulations!


For too many years now, DoDEA employees have suffered under an inaccurate and unresponsive pay system. It is clear that DoDEA has NOT devoted sufficient resources to resolving these problems or to prevent new ones. Please go to the FEA website for our Letter Writing Campaign. Please make sure all letters are polite and professional. Make your voice heard!


FEA is aware that many members are experiencing problems and delays in their RAT reimbursements and are justifiably frustrated. FEA has clearly articulated those concerns to HQ and will continue to press DoDEA to resolve these issues and to put procedures in place to ensure this does not happen again.


We also continue to hear of problems with HR, particularly about delays in hiring. Many schools have started the 2nd quarter with positions still unfilled and subs still unavailable. In DoDEA, the term "accountability" is often applied to schools and teachers, but where is the accountability for HR or pay?


Over the years, FEA has had many wonderful leaders. In a meeting some years ago with the FEA BoD, Dr. Shirley Miles was explaining how much was spent on UDDI. Without missing a beat, then Vice President BettyLou Cummins said politely, "Well as someone who just sat through the UDDI training, I would have to say, you did not get your money's worth!" Sadly, teachers are once again making this same comment about recent professional development!

Now retired, BettyLou has not stopped calling it like it is. Recently, she posted on FB, "How many times have we seen that happen with professional development forced on teachers without the input of those teachers? It is such a sad thing that parents entrust teachers with their most precious family members, but DODEA can't seem to trust those same teachers to actually know how to teach their students."


With this approach of Thanksgiving, I want to take a moment to say how grateful I am to the members in our schools who work so hard every day to do the best for their students. I am grateful for the opportunity to represent such dedicated and outstanding educators. Whether you travel or spend the holiday at home with friends and family, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.


As federal employees and union members, many FEA members are understandably anxious about the recent election of Donald Trump as president. The fact both houses of Congress will be controlled by a party that has often been hostile to public employees and the unions that represent them adds to this stress. It is our hope that Mr. Trump and the leaders in the next Congress will not vilify federal workers; that they will choose to include us in the process of making changes, rather than attempt to railroad those changes through. If that proves not to be the case, our members can be assured that FEA and NEA will fight for the interests of DoDEA employees and their students, no matter how strong the opposition. No matter what, it is reassuring to know that our members are among the best public education employees in the world and, through their dedicated work with our exceptional students and military families, we continue to produce outstanding results that make DoDEA schools one of the best -- and it's easy to argue we are THE best -- school systems in the United States. The best and most important thing we can all do is to continue to focus on the students and ensure they succeed.