November 18, 2015 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: November 18, 2015
Without bargaining, DoDEA has issued a directive requiring all schools to have 45 minutes per week for collaboration. FEA has notified DoDEA that this violates applicable law and current MOUs and has asked DoDEA to hold this in abeyance pending completion of bargaining.
The Association is pleased that we were able to come to an agreement with DoDEA about this year's transfer program. While this program is not funded sufficiently, we are hoping that the new changes in the program, the use of the backfill vacancies, as well as VSIP/VERA offerings will increase opportunities for educators to move.
For the latest information about this year's transfer program, always go to our website (www.feaonline.org) . Our Transfer Guru, Connie Shanaghan will be updating and posting her "Tips for Transfers" in the near future. It is also a great idea to sign up for our Listserv (www.feaonline.org/listserv.htm) to have the latest bulletins and announcements sent directly to you. The online application for the transfer program will open on November 30.
By the way, in answer to several questions we've received, Guam continues to be included in the DODDS transfer program.
DoDEA has told us it has secured funding for 50 VSIP/VERA authorizations this year to be offered to DODDS educators. The use of VSIP/VERA was urged by FEA as another way to increase vacancies and generate more placements in the upcoming DODDS transfer program. Additional VSIP/VERAs for excessed educators are also to be offered. For several days, we have been expecting the VSIP/VERA notification to be sent out by the DODDS Area offices in Europe and the Pacific, but those notifications have been delayed for reasons that are not clear to FEA. It is our continued expectation those notifications will be sent out very soon. The deadline we were informed of for VSIP/VERA applications was to be set at November 30. Given the delays in getting the information out, however, FEA has asked that the deadline be extended into December. DoDEA has not yet responded to our request to extend that deadline. Please be on the lookout for the VERA/VSIP announcement when it is finally sent out by DODDS and be prepared to make a quick decision about whether to apply. General information on VSIP/VERA can be found on the OPM site at this page.
AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK
I want to congratulate all FEA members on the occasion of American Education Week, taking place November 16-20. One of the "perks" of my job is the chance to see so many great educators at work as I visit schools. The work you do is so very valuable and important that it should be honored every day of the year. Thank you! Take time this week to reflect on the great work you do, to praise or thank a colleague, and to know that you make a great difference in the lives of children.
In spite of an Executive Order on Pre Decisional Involvement, the FEA was not involved in the decision for DoDEA to join the assessment consortium known as PARCC, nor was the Association informed before the announcement was made. FEA has numerous concerns abut this implementation, including the cost, the time the testing will require, and the problems of online testing, particularly in light of the tremendous IT problems we have faced this year.
All DOD personnel and civilian employees have been banned from unofficial/leisure travel within France through November 23 and within 50 kilometers of Paris until November 30. Furthermore, travel to Turkey has been banned indefinitely due to security concerns. It is FEA's policy to defer to the Pentagon and DOD officials in matters of safety and security such as this, particularly because DOD has access to all manner of classified information and intelligence that we simply aren't privy to. FEA realizes this situation may cause hardship for some of our members, especially those with plans to visit any of the restricted locations during the upcoming Thanksgiving break. Please remember that DOD is not taking these steps as a way to punish anyone; it is trying to safeguard its employees and their family members. We urge all FEA members to comply with this travel ban and to use caution regardless where you are located. As an additional resource, members may wish to check the U.S. State Department's global alerts at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/worldwide-caution.html for information on potential threats in any locations you may plan to visit. Though, as DOD employees, the directives coming from the Pentagon and DoDEA take precedence over anything issued by the State Department.
This past weekend, HT Nguyen, our Executive Director, FEA VP Michael Priser, FEA Secretary Treasurer Anita Lang and I attended the fall meeting of the National Council of State Education Associations. This is a great opportunity to network with our counterparts in other states and learn more about how to address the issues that face us all.
This week, our FEA Board of Directors is in Washington DC to meet and discuss important issues. Although the BOD is in frequent contact by email and phone, it is important that we take the time to come together as a group to discuss concerns face to face. This also gives our BOD members a chance to speak directly to NEA leadership as well. Please excuse any delay in response from your leadership during this busy week.
November is Native American Month and Alaska Native Heritage Month. Estimates of the population of the Western Hemisphere prior to the arrival of Europeans range from 8 million to more than 100 million. Cultures were as varied as the stationary Mayas in the Yucatan and the nomadic Plains Indians in North America. Explore Native American culture with the following lessons, activities, and resources. Click here for resources.
In addition, November is also the Month of the Military Family. Our members know the sacrifices and stresses which our military families face. By providing a consistent, supportive school environment for our students, we do an important part in supporting our military families in their mission.
For your information, three new FAQs have been added to OPM's Cybersecurity Resource Center Frequently Asked Questions found at this page. When you go to this page and click on the "Show Latest" button, it will highlight any new questions.
The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) open season is now upon us and runs until December 14. Be sure to visit OPM's Open Season page at this link for comprehensive information on benefits programs and rates.
Also, the American Foreign Service Protective Association (AFSPA), which provides health insurance to many FEA members, has put together an informative video about FEHB benefits and changes for this year's open season. You can view that video by going to this link.
If you are looking for holiday gifts, don't forget about the deals available to NEA/FEA members on the NEA Member Benefits site. www.neamb.com.
My best wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving to all FEA members and their families, as well as to our DoDEA students and their families, particularly those with a loved one currently deployed or family far away. Though our thoughts are often occupied with the many challenges we face, as DoDEA employees we also have much to be thankful for. Whether you stay at home or travel, I hope you have a wonderful holiday.