February 1, 2019 FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: February 1, 2019


As we reported to members earlier this week, DoDEA is once again asking Congress to pass legislation that would strip employees of their most basic bargaining rights and due process protections and, as they did last year, management is trying to claim its extremist proposal is somehow necessary in order to improve operations. It is not! Please see our update on DoDEA's latest attempt to strip workers of their rights to learn more about this issue.

Members have been asking about writing letters or taking other action to fight this proposal. FEA will be sending out information on suggested action for members to take in the weeks ahead. Sadly, management attacks on its employees are becoming increasingly commonplace. Like all such attacks, we must not take this threat lightly or shrink from this fight. With the aid of thousands of our fellow NEA members we fought off this same harmful proposal from management last year. We can and WILL do so again!


Please be sure to check our website and follow us on FaceBook to keep up with the latest information about the VSIP/VERA and Excess Placement Process. FR's and Building Reps, please make sure that ALL vacancies at your schools have been reported. Connie Shanaghan of our DC office will be monitoring vacancies and will be present at the placement process to ensure it follows the agreed upon process and that applicants are given due consideration.

Excessed placement procedures for FEA Stateside members are covered by the FEA-SR Master Labor Agreement and are different from the above-described Overseas procedures. If you are a FEA-Stateside member and have questions about excessed placement procedures, please contact your Local President.


FEA's Connie Shanaghan has developed some tips and answers to common questions about the placement process for excessed overseas educators. You can find those tips by going to this page on FEA's Web site.


Our members continue to tell me that the professional development offered by DoDEA is NOT meeting their needs or the needs of their students. Unfortunately, the attitude at DoDEA HQ is "we know better than teachers." They simply refuse to listen to the people who take part in the trainings and then have to TRY to make DoDEA standards and curriculum work for students. I cannot say this any clearer: DoDEA is headed in the wrong direction! This is just one more example.


For information and lessons about Black History Month, go to NEA's Black History Month page. Of course, these resources can and should be infused in the curriculum throughout the year.


February 4-9 has been designated as National School Counseling Week. DoDEA schools are lucky to be staffed with dedicated counselors. Unfortunately, like everyone else in our schools, DoDEA seems to put more and more tasks on our counselors' plates, leaving them less time to actually work with students. Wouldn't it be nice, in honor of the occasion, if DoDEA could spend some time thinking of how to lessen the extra tasks that have been placed on our counselors? Be sure to thank your school counselors this coming week!


I hope your school is moving ahead with great plans for celebrating NEA's Read Across America. This is one of the best opportunities all year to engage parents and the community in a learning event. For more information go to NEA's Read Across America page


This past week I was fortunate enough to attend the NEA Minority and Women's Leadership Training with eight of our members from around the world. FEA appreciates DoDEA's support of this training in the granting of leave for the participants. We are also grateful that NEA provides such meaningful and engaging training. It truly does enrich our system when our educators have access to this quality professional development.


Be sure to check out the January edition of the NEA Today! It features a great article on the realities of teaching in DoDEA today titled "Bitter sweet." Thanks to NEA writer John Rosales for his work on the article. (He also wrote an article on our members in Guantanamo a few years ago.)


The Association has expressed serious concerns with the DoDEA Blueprint for Continuous Improvement, which we do not believe adequately addresses the real issues which our schools and employees face. Certainly recent decisions, such as cutting school level staffing, make claims of pursuing excellence ring hollow. The recently released Annual Report on the progress of the Blueprint takes DoDEA's cherry-picking of data and spin of facts to a new level. As just one example, in addressing the issue of employee feedback surveys, DoDEA boasted about the improvement in participation in the FedView survey. However, the report did not mention that the participants rated DoDEA 357 out of 415 in the list of the "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government." All but three indicators were in the bottom 25% with Training and Development ranking 400 out of 410, a particularly sad score for a school system. In the absence of any other climate or working conditions survey, including their refusal to conduct exit surveys of employees who leave the system, the FedView survey is the only systemwide indicator of the working climate of our system, and on this indicator, DoDEA is falling badly. If DoDEA truly was a "data driven" system, DoDEA leadership would address these concerns instead of trying to "spin" them.


Ballots for the election of four at-large officers to seats on the FEA Board of Directors were mailed to all Active Members of the Association on January 17. We encourage all members to make their voices heard in the selection of their Association leadership by completing and returning your ballot in time for the March 26 deadline for receipt. Any member who does not receive their ballot directly in the mail by February 15 may request a copy of the ballot from their FRS or Local President and then mail their completed ballot to FEA in time to reach our DC office by the March 26 deadline for receipt. Please note that this election for at-large officers to the FEA Board is separate from other elections that may be taking place in your local or within your country/Area for other positions, such as RA delegates or other officers.