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December 16, 2013 FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: FEA Washington Office
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: December 16, 2013

VSIP/VERA UPDATE
At this point, DoDEA Headquarters has not released the staffing documents for SY 14/15. Once these have been released, excesses and vacancies can be determined, the second window for VSIP/VERA will open, and plans can be made for placement rounds, etc. FEA will notify members of any news on these issues.

NOMINATION DEADLINE
Don't forget: December 19 is the deadline for submitting nominations for FEA Area Director positions. You may nominate yourself or any other FEA Active member. Nominees must reside within the geographic area they seek to represent. Nomination forms and election information can be found at www.feaonline.org and were also sent to each FEA building representative/FRS. Voting will take place during March and April, 2014.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
Recently, a selection panel was formed to select a principal in the Pacific. Parents and the Military Community were included, but when the Association asked about teacher representation, they were denied! Who knows better what to look for in a principal? This shows the lack of respect for teachers that is all too common in DoDEA these days.

BAS LOG REMINDER
DODDS K-3 educators are reminded to please fill out and submit your BAS log sheets to FEA before you leave for the holiday break. FEA is collecting information on the BAS-related time demands administrators are putting on educators since DODDS illegally implemented the BAS reading assessment this past September. Your information is vital in helping us make our case to stop this violation and any similar attempts in the future. You can find the BAS log form and FEA's legal updates, providing information on the BAS and instructions for filling out your log form, at this page.

STAY IN TOUCH
The best way to contact me is via my email address. You can send general questions to FEA at fea@feaonline.org. Also, if you are reading this update but have not yet subscribed to have it sent directly to your Inbox, you can do so by going to www.feaonline.org/listserv.htm.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS
This is the last President's Report scheduled before the holiday break (barring any breaking news). On behalf of the entire FEA staff here in Washington, I want to wish all FEA members a wonderful holiday season and best wishes for a very happy New Year. Of course, we will have plenty of challenges to overcome in 2014, just as we had in 2013. With that in mind (and with acknowledgement to former FEA Europe Area Director Mary Margaret McGowan for the idea), I thought I would share my letter to Santa Claus this year:

Dear Santa,

First of all, I want to make sure you have my new address! I have moved from my cozy classroom in Wiesbaden MS to Washington DC this year, and what a change it has been! While I was very grateful that our teachers were not furloughed or out of work due to the government shutdown, this year sure has been challenging. I have tried to be a good boy, but I have had to bite my tongue more than a few times!

As part of my new job, I have traveled around a bit this year, so I thought maybe I could help a little with your "Naughty and Nice" lists.

Our DoDEA educators have been really good this year, Santa. As I visited schools, I see them working magic in their schools, often working under difficult circumstances, with reduced budgets, and ever-increasing demands. In spite of all of that, they continue to deliver a great education for all our students.

Most of all, our teachers need time, Santa…maybe you can convince someone to take some things OFF their plates, instead of piling more and more on….our ES teachers could use some instructional time back since they are losing so much to administering the BAS and inputting the data from it! Of course, all of our educators need uninterrupted planning time! And how about some relief from meaningless meetings, forced collaboration, collecting data for data's sake, and the endless demands of AdvancEd?

Gadgets and technology are always good gifts, but could we just have technology that works when we need it? What about a "package" deal, where training and on-going support are included with new technology - that would be wonderful! And of course, we need time for this too…time to actually practice and use the technology and the skills.

Many of our teachers, especially in hardship areas, have a "Transfer Program" at the top of their wish lists. That would make them REALLY happy! For our excessed teachers this year, please bring them good placements…and for those who retire this year, bring them long, happy retirements free from debt letters!

Santa, our DDESS schools are really worried about the upcoming transfer study. I have been in a number of these schools this year and they are doing a great job. Please give the Pentagon enough wisdom and foresight to realize they should prize their outstanding DDESS schools and not even consider changes that would destroy this excellent school system.

Some of our schools have great administrators…others seem to be mean as the "Grinch" all year long. Please make sure all our schools have principals who have good communication skills, who understand collaborative leadership, and who know the difference between "my school" and "our school." Our Superintendents also need more time to closely supervise some of these "less than successful" principals.

And then there's DoDEA HQ. Oh, I have a long list of gifts for them! Maybe the first thing you could bring them is a "clue", because they just don't seem to have one! Too many of them have been away from the classroom too long, or they have never even been educators!

For your Naughty list, add those folks at HQ who roll out new initiatives like the CSP and 21st Century TLL without properly bargaining with the Association. DFAS, of course, should be at the TOP of your Naughty list for their continuing violation of the Debt Collection Act. Put big lumps of coal in those stockings!

Then there is the Common Core….there has been a lot of talk about that, but how about an extra-large dose of "Common Sense"? That seems to be in short supply at HQ . (By the way, you could drop some of that in the Capital Building as you fly over DC as well!)

Here's another gift idea….how about a two week "vacation" for everyone in HQ, where they actually work IN one of our schools! They seem to think they know everything…Let's give them a chance to show it! I think it might even give them another special gift -- an appreciation of how hard teachers work every day.

Finally, for HQ, give them something to do that does NOT create more work for teachers, but rather supports and encourages teachers.

Of course, we are all waiting for a permanent DoDEA Director. Can we have one who will work WITH us, who respects our teachers and our system's many accomplishments? Please give us the model with an educational vision, compassion, and a lot of common sense!

Santa, all of our educators and ESP's work really hard every day. I hope you will be especially good to them this year. FEA is working hard to bring them things they need, but a little help from Santa wouldn't hurt! I will leave some milk & cookies out for you under the tree in the FEA office!

Merry Christmas!

Chuck