May 14, 2009 FEA President's ReportTo: FEA Members and Local Leaders Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: May 14, 2009
STAFFING CUTS -- As we informed you in the May 1 FEA President's Report, Dr. Miles is proposing massive cuts to DoDEA middle school staffs and she wants to eliminate dedicated classroom aides in full day kindergarten while disingenuously claiming to lower the PTR. As if these policies weren't unsound enough on their own: Dr. Miles wants to create 160 new "Resource Manager" positions throughout DoDEA to do work that is already being done by numerous other staff members.
FEA has received a number of inquires about this issue from members and non-members alike. The overwhelming reaction has been strong opposition to Dr. Miles' plans and questions about what can be done. For its part, FEA has begun the process of informing decision makers here in Washington about Dr. Miles' misguided policies. We've also been getting the word out to the media so that DoDEA parents and students can be fully informed about what Dr. Miles wants to do to their schools.
We have created a section on our website, www.feaonline.org/sos, where members and parents can find information on these proposed staffing changes, including background on the cuts, press releases issued by FEA, and tips for both FEA members and parents to write letters to Congress and other key decision makers.
We absolutely cannot let these proposed changes go unchallenged. FEA needs its members and concerned parents/students throughout DoDEA to help us spread the word (but do so outside of duty time and without using government computers or equipment). Visit www.feaonline.org/sos and learn more about the issue, then follow our tips for writing letters. Refer any other interested parties you are aware of to this information as well (it is not restricted to members, so anyone can access it). Dr. Miles has already shown by these proposed cuts that she is uninterested in the feedback she gathers from DoDEA's own Customer Satisfaction Survey (see our release on this at the above Web page). We need to exercise our rights to petition Congress about these harmful cuts to education and encourage others to do the same. Please read the information at www.feaonline.org/sos to learn how you should proceed and to keep up on the latest developments as we continue this fight.
MEMBERSHIP SURVEY -- FEA has posted a survey for our members to complete at www.feaonline.org/survey.htm. The survey covers a range of topics affecting our working conditions and the association's operations. I hope that every single FEA member will complete the survey so that we can have the most accurate picture possible of what's on your minds.
In order to eliminate the possibility of multiple responses from the same person, the survey requires you to login using your FEA membership ID and your last name, similar to other restricted areas of the Web site. Your ID number is printed on the FEA membership card you received at the start of the school year. The number is also printed on the new issue of the FEA Journal that is being mailed out to members this week. The survey system will also send a "cookie" to your computer when you login, to prevent multiple responses from the same machine (another effort to eliminate duplicate responses). None of these security features will be used to identify responses from a specific respondent and no information on any individual's responses will ever be shared with anyone in or outside of FEA. In other words: your responses will be completely confidential, so don't hold anything back!
Please note: the survey should not be completed using any government-owned computers or while you are on duty.
To complete the survey:
- Go to www.feaonline.org/survey.htm
- Login using your last name (in ALL CAPS) as the Username and your ID number as the Password
- Complete the survey (it will take about 10-15 minutes). The survey will inform you when you have completed all the questions.
PETITION TO REPRESENT DODDS ABOVE-SCHOOL LEVEL EMPLOYEES -- FEA has filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), petitioning for the right to represent employees in DoDDS District and Area offices. The petition was filed after FEA received signed "Showing of Interest" cards from more than the required 30 percent of personnel in the potential new bargaining unit. Assuming the FLRA approves our petition (and we have no reason to believe they won't) the next step would be to schedule and hold an election among those employees to determine whether a majority of respondents wish to be represented by FEA. FEA wants to thank the many above-school-level employees who have expressed interest in being represented by FEA.
PARENTAL LEAVE MOVES FORWARD -- A bill that would allow federal employees to take four weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child is now before the House of Representatives. The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (H.R. 626) would allow employees to take four weeks in addition to any annual or sick leave they had accumulated. Similar legislation was passed by the House in 2008, but not the Senate. This new bill is likely to pass in the House again this year, but its fate in the Senate remains uncertain. Current law allows feds to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave when they have or adopt a child.
SPECIAL MONTH -- May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. NEA has some resources you can use to celebrate this month.
STAY IN TOUCH -- Some of our DDESS schools will be letting out for the summer by the end of this month, with DoDDS schools not far behind. Before leaving, I want to encourage every FEA member to sign up for our email listserv so that you can remain informed about our efforts in fighting staffing cuts and the many other issues we are working on. You can sign up for the listserv here. You will need your FEA ID number to login in and access the sign-up page for the listserv. FEA asks its members to provide a personal, non-DoDEA email address (for example, a Yahoo or Google email) when signing up for the listserv.
IN CLOSING -- Stay strong in the weeks ahead. By this point in the school year, just about everyone (including students) is exhausted. Fortunately for DoDEA, despite having a Director who has dismissed or mischaracterized the educational accomplishments of her employees, FEA members always retain their professionalism and their dedication to students and learning. Remain focused in the weeks ahead upon what is most important: education. For those Stateside locations that will be letting out prior to my next update: have a great summer and congratulations on another year of providing outstanding instruction and services to our military families.
Have a wonderful weekend.