March 28, 2018, FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members and Leaders Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE:March 28, 2018


Members of DoDEA's Labor Management and Employee Relations (LMER) department recently announced they were pulling out the process of negotiating a new contract for certified employees in DoDEA Americas schools and threatened to unilaterally implement a "contract" of management's own devising. In response, FEA's Stateside Region (FEA-SR) has sent DoDEA Director Tom Brady an open letter, asking whether he is aware of and supports his LMER branch's illegal threat. At the time of this writing, Mr. Brady has not responded to that letter. DoDEA seems to be following the example of Betsy Devos, whose Department of Education is attempting to unilaterally impose a contract that was resoundingly rejected by the AFGE bargaining unit at that agency. You can learn more about this issue and read FEA-SR's letter to Mr. Brady by going to this page.


FEA has been fighting with management over invalid debt claims on our bargaining unit members for years (and we will continue to do so until the problems are permanently fixed!). A former DoDEA employee recently posted a great opinion piece on a Web site dealing with military issues, in which she explained how she received a debt notice before she even started working for DoDEA. Apparently, no foul up is too big for DoDEA and DFAS. I encourage you to read her story at this site.


As this update goes out, I am visiting schools in Europe. It is a great chance to hear issues and concerns from educators in our schools. I am being joined this week by FEA Executive Director HT Nguyen and NEA Executive Director John Stocks for school visits and meetings in Germany. Thanks to the many FEA leaders and members who have helped with setting up meetings, etc.


As I travel, I am hearing numerous concerns about the upcoming PARCC assessments and the related technology, hardware and scheduling issues. Both FEA and FEASR have submitted questions and concerns to DoDEA HQ about the upcoming PARCC assessments weeks ago but, so far, management has been unable or unwilling to fully answer our questions and concerns.

Will this be like so many other poorly planned DoDEA initiatives that the educators in the schools, through extra work and stress, somehow make work in spite of the poor planning? And will the information gained from these assessments be worth the cost, the disruption of schedules and the loss of instructional time for students? In the end, will this really promote student achievement?


DoDEA recently distributed a memo concerning the DoDEA Comprehensive Planning System. In it, a steering committee, including Association Representatives, was referenced. While the Association did have representatives at that meeting, we have concerns that the final plan will not adequately address issues that we raised such as increased input into decisions by classroom/school practitioners, correcting and preventing pay problems, inadequate HR services, poor professional development, lack of response to climate concerns and a number of other issues. As is sadly too often the case, even when DoDEA receives input from the Association, they ignore it and proceed with policies created without input from those who work with students every day.


Congratulations to the members and local leaders at Brussels American School for achieving 100 percent Association membership this school year! It's an incredible achievement and FEA is very honored by the trust and support you have shown us. A reminder to other schools: if you have achieved 100 percent membership in the Association this school year, please send us a notice so we can recognize you as well. Thanks so much Brussels!


I recently heard from a school that had, like many of our schools, a long-term sub in place while waiting for a permanent teacher to come on board. Once the new teacher arrived, the principal allowed an overlap so that the new teacher could work with the sub for a few days to learn the class and routines. This should be the standard procedure. Also, when a sub is taking over for a teacher for an extended leave, it would be great if they could be brought on board a few days early to work with the teacher to make the transition for students easier.


Why are our Educational Aides/Paraprofessionals still not fully included in all our trainings? These educators often work with our students most in need of support and they should be trained on new materials and curriculum in order to work with those students in the classrooms.


April is the Month of the Military Child. The Military Child Education Coalition has a great toolkit you can use to help celebrate this event, available at this site. FEA members never need to be reminded of the incredible strength, resiliency and spirit of the military dependents we are honored to work with every day. Nevertheless, it is great to have this month set aside as a special observance of these remarkable young people.


Some of our Stateside members have already had their spring break and others are enjoying it this week. For most of us, spring break will take place in the coming weeks. Regardless when your break happens, I hope you have a safe and restful one and come back reinvigorated for the sprint to the end of the school year.