November 19 2013 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: November 19, 2013
AREA DIRECTOR ELECTIONS
Nominations are now open for the election of four Area Directors to represent Europe, Stateside and the Pacific on FEA's Board of Directors. Nomination forms and other information were mailed November 8 to FEA local leaders, for distribution in the schools. Information was also included in the most recent FEA Journal and is also posted on the FEA Web site at www.feaonline.org.
A list on page 6 of the new FEA Journal, showing which schools are assigned to each of the newly-created FEA Divisions within Europe, accidentally omitted Ramstein Elementary School from the Kaiserslautern 1 Division in the Europe South Area. FEA apologizes for this error.
21st CENTURY PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ULP
FEA has filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) against DoDEA over the agency's actions in regard to the 21st Century Framework for Professional Development.
While FEA has long advocated for relevant, job embedded, and locally-determined staff development, we have serious concerns about the recently announced "21st Century Framework for Professional Development." For a number of years now, DoDEA has offered little or no professional development, and what has been offered has been a "one size fits all, top-down" model. FEA applauds increased opportunities for teachers to choose professional development, but has a number of questions and concerns which remain unanswered by DoDEA. We have repeatedly asked about graduate credit or the use of Continuing Education Units for professional development, but have received no answers. We have reminded DoDEA that we currently have an MOU in place that governs PLC's and PLT's. We have questioned where the staffing for this initiative will come from in light of recent staffing cuts to Literacy Intervention programs across DoDDS and specialists in DDESS.
And of course, time. As with so many other initiatives, DoDEA continually wants teachers to do more, but balks at providing the time for it. Coming on top of new CSP initiatives, new AdvancEd requirements, and a host of other demands on our time, this initiative has the potential to be just one more top-directed time drain for teachers. FEA will continue to advocate for time within the existing duty day for relevant, meaningful professional development.
Unfortunately, DoDEA has not fulfilled their legal or contractual obligation to bargain this initiative, so FEA is filing this ULP to insure our right to bargain the impact this latest initiative will have on our members.
Like the 21st Century Framework discussed above, FEA has voiced serious concerns about DoDEA's Community Strategic Plan (CSP). DoDEA, ignoring FEA requests to hold the CSP implementation in abeyance, has moved forward with its plans for CSP, including scheduling training on the initiative. In doing so, management is willfully ignoring its legal obligation to bargain the CSP, not to mention ignoring repeated attempts by FEA to share with management honest and meaningful feedback we have collected from the field. As a result, FEA is filing a ULP against management over the issue of the CSP implementation. We will keep members informed as this situation progresses.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
Someone in IT decides to perform maintenance and shut down the computers in a school for an afternoon during the week that grades are due. Really? This is another example of non-educators making decisions that adversely impact students and teachers.
RECENT DDESS VISITS
My recent visit to Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejeune gave me a chance to see great things going on in our schools and to meet with members to share news and hear their concerns. In light of the recent announcement of another DDESS study, it was great to see firsthand the uniquely supportive and positive educational experience we provide for military children. From Deployment Support groups to military themed bulletin boards, it was clear that the military child was the center of these schools. The parents I spoke with were enthusiastic in their support of our schools. FEA will continue to make the case that we provide the best possible educational setting for the children of our military.
I do want to highlight good things when they happen in our schools, so please share with me. One thing that stood out for me on my DDESS visit was actually something an administrator said to me. When I commented on the positive atmosphere of the school, she said, "This is a great staff to work for." In talking further with her, it was clear her view of her job was to support teachers. Wouldn't it be great if everyone above the classroom had that attitude of supporting teachers and staff?
SAME-SEX SPOUSE ISSUES
In response to questions from FEA, DOD has provided updates on a pair of issues affecting DOD civilian employees with same-sex spouses or domestic partners.
First, the issuing of ration cards to same-sex spouses remains unresolved at this time. Ration cards are administered locally and are tied to the SOFA (Status of Forces) agreement for each country. This means the host nation must agree to extend the ration cards to same sex spouses as part of the SOFA agreement. The State Department is working on this issue but for now it remains unresolved.
Second, there has been some clarification on the question of DOD civilians obtaining time off to travel to/from a state where same-sex married is legal in order to marry their same-sex domestic partner. Here is the full response from DOD: "OPM and DOD does not have the legal authority to grant excused absence or administrative leave to civilian employees to travel to a state that allows same-sex partners to legally marry. However, the Federal Government offers a wide range of leave options and workplace flexibilities to assist an employee who would like the time off to get married. These flexibilities include annual leave, (and) leave without pay … "
NAEP TEST RESULTS
The most recent test results for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were released recently and DoDEA schools were highlighted as being one of a handful of systems in which students' scores improved in all four test areas (students are tested in math and reading in Grades 4 and 8). Test scores are, of course, just one of many measures of success for a school system, but it is clear from these results that DoDEA students and educators are doing an outstanding job. FEA is concerned, however, that recent unilateral decisions by DoDEA management (such as the forced implementation of the BAS, made without significant input from the field or an agreement with FEA) could undermine this progress.
NEA Research is now conducting a phone survey of Association members on the issue of standardized testing, including questions about the amount of time required for such testing, how teachers feel about the tests, and how the testing relates to student outcomes and teacher evaluations. I urge any FEA member who is contacted by NEA about this survey to participate. Your input is wanted and needed!
AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK
Finally, I want to congratulate all FEA members on the occasion of American Education Week, taking place November 18-22, and Educational Support Professional (ESP) Day on November 20. The work you do is so very valuable and important that it should be honored every day of the year. I hope our members enjoy this recognition in your honor. Thank you for the outstanding work you do every day and every week of every year!