March 14, 2018, FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members and Leaders Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: March 14, 2018
Student activists in schools throughout the U.S. have called for a walkout on March 14 to honor those killed in the recent Florida school shooting. DoDEA has issued guidance to school principals, reminding them of policies and applicable laws governing actions by students as well as faculty. Your building principal should be sharing this information from DoDEA with your school community. When in doubt, please remember that the Hatch Act prohibits any federal employee from engaging in political activity while on duty time, on government property and while using government equipment.
LACK OF COMMUNICATION
Communication is an ongoing problem in DoDEA and the confusion surrounding the arrival of "live specimens" for Science in our elementary schools recently is an unfortunate example of that. On my recent visit to our schools in North Carolina, I got to see this first hand. Although this is supposed to be an "awareness year," where teachers can examine the materials and begin to use them if they chose, suddenly the materials, containing LIVE specimens, began arriving in our schools. In some cases, no one knew they were live, so that they were left in storerooms for days and the specimens died. In other cases, teachers had to scramble at the last minute to find food for their new "classroom friends," or to find refrigerator space for the ones requiring cold storage (in with your lunches?!). There were also unexpected issues like shellfish allergies, figuring out how to dispose of the "non-living" specimens that didn't make it, and other issues. In addition, many teachers suddenly had to drop the units they WERE teaching to switch to the new units involving the specimens, with little or no training. This is poor planning and above all, very poor communication, which negatively impacts instruction and our students.
I recently traveled to Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejeune to visit with members there. During my time at Ft. Bragg, the local president, Diane Gibbs, and I met with Mark Jewell, North Carolina Education Association President, and leaders from the local county to discuss how our respective associations could work together to strengthen and support our members. Mark also accompanied me as I toured some of the Ft. Bragg Schools. It was inspiring to see so many wonderful educators at work. The local Associations in both areas held great afterschool meetings where I had the chance to speak with many of the members there and to hear their concerns.
As the Update goes out, I will be heading to Chicago for an NEA Leadership summit with some of our FEA leaders from around the world. From there I will head directly to Europe where I plan to visit AFNORTH, SHAPE, Brussels, Wiesbaden and Kaiserslautern. For more information, please check with your local leadership. Our Executive Director and General Counsel, HT Nguyen, will be headed to the Vilseck/Grafenwoehr area, and then joining me in Wiesbaden and Kaiserslautern.
We are very pleased that NEA Executive Director, John Stocks, will be visiting some of our schools in Germany with us later this month. Then, later in the Spring, Hanna Vaandering, NEA Executive Committee member will be visiting some of our schools in the Pacific. It is always a privilege to show our distinguished NEA visitors the great work our schools do, and it is wonderful for our members to get a chance to interact with NEA leadership. These visits are just one of the ways NEA recognizes our unique challenges and supports us!
NEA FOUNDATION AWARD
Don't forget the deadline for nominations for the NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence is coming up fast. Area Directors have applications and information and will be submitting applications to FEA Washington by the April 1 deadline. This award honors both excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. Take this opportunity to nominate one of the many great teachers and advocates that we have in DoDEA.
I have heard that there were GREAT celebrations around the world for NEA's Read Across America. A number of our locals received grants from NEA this year to make these events extra special. Please don't forget to share your pictures with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
DoDEA makes a great show of wanting to build strong school-home partnerships and to improve communication. Unfortunately, it is just that: a show. DoDEA leadership is continuing with a plan to cut the number of parent/teacher conference days that many schools have always had. Although the Association has provided feedback from educators on the negative impacts of this cut on our schools, families and students, DoDEA is once again ignoring the input of those who actually work WITH students, in favor of policies created by those who have not been in the classroom in years. This seems to be an example of "One DoDEA" meaning everyone is reduced to the lowest and least in the name of consistency. Because of DoDEA's unilateral implementation of this poor decision on Conference Days, the Association has filed a ULP concerning this policy.
YEARS OF SERVICE
Many of you are aware of the great work Connie Shanaghan, our "Transfer Guru", does for our members: helping them understand and navigate the transfer system and answering the countless questions that arise, among many other duties Connie performs for FEA and its members. Connie recently celebrated her 32nd Anniversary with FEA! (Of course, she began working here when she was just a child!) We are so fortunate to have staff members, like Connie, who work so diligently on behalf of our members. Congratulations Connie, and thank you!