February 12, 2016 FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: February 12, 2016


The DODDS transfer program wrapped up earlier today (February 12). In all, 123 "regular" transfers were made (all to educators in the A+ group) as well as 52 excessed teacher placements. The transfer round was concluded when DoDEA reached its budget limit for the program. There are 20 excessed educators who could not be placed in the transfer round. Those educators will continue to receive consideration for any new vacancies reported.

In keeping with past practice, FEA cannot reveal any information on specific individuals' transfers until all transfer reassignment letters are sent out. Those letters are expected to be sent sometime next week. Anyone with questions should contact Connie Shanaghan at this email. Be sure to include your transfer group and service comp date in your message to Connie.

It should go without saying the FEA is not satisfied with the level of commitment DoDEA has shown to the transfer program. Fewer transfers were made this year than last year. We will continue to stress to management that a viable and fully funded transfer program is not a luxury, it is a necessity for employee morale and retention.


FYI, since we've had a number of questions about this: the service comp dates for the 50 non-excessed DODDS educators who received VSIP/VERA to help create openings for the transfer program ranged from 12/30/70 to 8/11/85. We wish all of those educators well and thank them for their service to DoDEA children.


The Pentagon's review of the RAND Study into possible changes to DDESS schools continues. In an effort to ensure that our members' opinions and viewpoints are heard, FEA Executive Director/General Counsel met this week with DOD officials to voice our strong support for maintaining our excellent DDESS schools in their present form.


Congratulations to the faculty and local leadership at Kaiserslautern Elementary School for achieving 100 percent Association membership this school year! Your commitment to FEA and to educators' rights is an inspiration to us all. Thank you so much for your support!


When doing your federal income taxes for 2015, remember that NEA was successful in getting Congress to permanently extend the educator tax credit, which allows you to deduct up to $250 this year for qualified classroom expenses (the amount of the deduction is now indexed to inflation, so it will vary in years ahead). Also, you MAY be able to deduct some or all of your union dues as a miscellaneous itemized deduction (such deductions must exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income for the year). As always, FEA advises all members to consult a tax professional before considering these deductions to make sure that you meet all IRS requirements. You can also learn more about them by reading this publication from the IRS, available here.


This annual celebration of reading is one of the best ways to involve your community and parents in your school. Plan now to use this day to promote a lifelong love of reading as well as a positive image for your school.


I recently attended a meeting co-sponsored by NEA, AFT, the Department of Education and the Council of Chief State School Officers. One resounding theme was "put the voice of teachers BACK in the conversation about educational policy and decisions." I could not agree more. When decisions are made, we must listen to those who do the work. FEA works continually to bring the voice of educators to the table. Let's hope that DoDEA participation in this event means that they will take meaningful steps to increase teacher leadership roles and provide more opportunities for input from educators in the field.


On February 3, a tornado ripped through Fort Stewart in Georgia. Though there was significant damage to a number of homes and cars and some damage to Diamond Elementary School, there were no reports of injuries or fatalities. It's good to hear everyone made through OK, although we have heard some frightening stories of building admins releasing children and staff just before the storm hit, instead of heading storm warnings and sending everyone home earlier.


At every level, FEA leaders have been advocating for members to have access to adequate retirement briefings and information. FEA knows that retirement is a complicated and important step and that employees need access to briefings and information in order to make informed decisions. Unfortunately, management has been unable or unwilling to provide adequate support or resources. FEA will continue to press DoDEA to devote resources to supporting our employees.


I don't normally send lots of video links, etc. but this is a very thought-provoking video on Racial Issues in Urban Schools. Link to the video here.

What brought this to my attention is the fact that the researcher, Dr. Leslie Hinkson, points to DoDEA schools as an example of successful integration, citing our consistently high NAEP scores as well as the smallest racial achievement gap in the US.

While DoDEA is singled out as an example of successful integration, we, like every other institution, must continue to work for equity for all students and employees in our system. The NEA has made eliminating Institutional Racism a top priority and is devoting great resources and energy to this effort. We will be working closely with the NEA to provide those resources to our schools.


As US citizens, whether living abroad or in the US, one of our most important rights is the right to vote. If you are not registered to vote, please take the time to do so. For information and links to state registrations, etc, go to this site.