March 1 2009 FEA President's ReportTo: FEA Members and Local Leaders Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: March 1, 2009
FUTURE TRANSFER PROGRAM: WHAT'S BEEN DECIDED? -- FEA is aware that Dr. Shirley Miles has issued a letter (dated February 12, 2009) in which she has unilaterally stated that the Transfer Program in 2010 will remove the educators in Okinawa from Group B consideration and reinstitute a "7-year recency requirement." Dr. Miles, without clarification, continues to say that these will "improve the Transfer Program." FEA wants all members to know that the Transfer Program is subject to bargaining on an annual basis, and the 2010 Transfer Program has not yet been bargained. The current parameters of the Transfer Program were developed by a DoDEA Headquarters committee set up by Dr. Tafoya. I served on that committee. DoDEA Headquarters made a number of promises to the teachers who transferred to Okinawa in recent years. FEA expects these commitments and promises to be honored. Eight years of cooperation should not be dismissed in 8 months. FEA will fully bargain the 2010 program.
Regarding the issue of recency requirements: FEA recognizes and supports the need to make sure educators are fully qualified to teach the subjects to which they are assigned. That said, the recency requirements to which Dr. Miles refers have never been clearly delineated. For the well being of students as well as our members, this is an issue that will require bargaining in order to ensure that an effort to improve learning does not have the opposite effect.
FEA will keep members informed through the process as we work toward development of future transfer programs.
CUTS IN DIRECT SERVICES TO SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS -- Dr. Miles has unilaterally decided to pull back positions in the schools that provided direct education services and intervention to students with significant reading needs. She is cutting the literacy facilitators in DoDDS Pacific and is gutting the Reading Recovery program in DoDDS-Europe. Dr. Miles has said that she plans to pull those positions because she wants to wait and implement the recommendations of the DoDEA Task Force. FEA asked why she needed to cut a program prior the committee even issuing its recommendations? What if the task force recommends that these programs continue? It is clear that regardless of the Task Force's recommendations, Dr. Miles has decided to significantly alter how these positions will be used. FEA pointed out the data showing reading growth because of both of these programs. Dr. Miles does not believe that Reading Recovery provides improvement over a long period of time and dismissed the data from the Literacy Facilitators as being "teacher dependent." FEA believes that all educational programs are "teacher dependent"; and that our educational programs, delivered by our members, continue to demonstrate the highest excellence worldwide.
EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION SURVEY NOT ENDORSED BY FEA - FEA members have asked why teachers were not allowed to participate in the recent DoDEA customer satisfaction survey. DoDEA Headquarters decided to separate the surveys into 2 separate surveys. The survey for employees will be distributed in March. FEA has reviewed the survey and offered suggestions on a number of questions related to personnel matters. A few questions do not apply to our bargaining unit as they relate to aspects of NSPS (the National Security Personnel System), and not to the way our teachers are evaluated or paid. There are also additional questions that FEA finds inappropriate and intrusive. One question puts teachers in the position of evaluating their colleague as "poor" and asks them to speculate on what action the administration is taking. FEA finds that not only is this wrong, but it puts teachers into a situation where they are evaluating and guessing on information for which they would not have full knowledge. FEA believes that this will yield invalid and unreliable data that DoDEA Headquarters could easily misinterpret when addressing future personnel matters. As a result, FEA cannot recommend this survey.
SUMMER OFFERING -- FEA expressed its displeasure with the limited summer course offerings for educators. Dr. Miles stated that DoDEA Headquarters is waiting for all of the Headquarters Task Forces to finish their recommendations. Headquarters plans to use this information to formulate the offering for future summer courses, but this will not take place this year. Meanwhile, many educators are being denied an opportunity to improve themselves professionally this year. This is harmful to students and educational quality and FEA urges DoDEA to increase these offerings immediately.
READ ACROSS AMERICA -- Tomorrow, March 2, is NEA's annual celebration of Dr. Seuss and all things reading-related: Read Across America. Many of our schools host fantastic events for this celebration each year. Please be sure to send us one or two photos of your reading events so we can include them in the May FEA Journal and on our Web site at www.feaonline.org. You can send photos to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail them to our office at 1201 16th St. NW #117, Washington DC 20036. If you are looking for last minute ideas for events to hold or ways to recognize and promote your participants, go to NEA's Read Across America page.
RETIREE ID CARDS -- Civilian employees who retire from any DoD agency, including DoDEA, are eligible to receive an officially-issued Civilian Retiree ID Card once they begin to receive their retirement pay. The cards provide a trusted way of confirming the retirees' association with DoD. The cards do not, however, guarantee access to military installations and their Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) facilities. The decision on whether to allow retirees to use MWR facilities is still left up to each base commander, usually based on factors such as local demand, capacity and security concerns. If the base near you does not allow such access, you should petition the base commander directly, asking him/her to consider allowing such access.
The Civilian Retiree ID Card is issued by RAPIDS ID Card facilities. To obtain your card, you must contact your local RAPIDS facility. You can locate your nearest RAPIDS office by going to www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl/owa/home. When visiting the RAPIDS office, retirees seeking cards must bring two forms of ID, such as a passport and drivers license or other government-issued photo ID. Retirees must also bring proof of pay grade at retirement. A list of acceptable documents you can use for these purposes is available at www.formi9.com
The Retiree ID cards will have to be renewed every 4 years. For more information, contact the Civilian Benefits Information Line at 703-596-6301 or at email@example.com
GPO/WEP -- The effort to repeal the Government Pension Offset/Windfall Elimination Provision, both of which unfairly reduce Social Security benefits for federal retirees and their survivors, took another step forward recently with the introduction of a Senate bill to eliminate these measures. That measure, S. 484, already has 11 co-sponsors in the Senate. It joins a similar measure in the House, H.R. 235, that was introduced in January and already has 181 co-sponsors. For more information, , see the new issue of the FEA Journal, or visit NEA's Legislative Action Center
WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH -- Finally, I wanted to remind everyone that March is Women's History Month. NEA has assembled a number of online resources you can use to incorporate this celebration into your classroom activities.
Have a great weekend!