May 17, 2016 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: May 17, 2016
As this update goes out I am still on the road. I began this "round the world" trip in the UK, visiting with members in Lakenheath and Alconbury. A highlight of the visit was a wonderful afternoon "tea" hosted by the Lakenheath Education Association to honor retiring members.
From there, I traveled to the Pacific, beginning with a great visit to our schools at Misawa. Following that, I was able to attend meetings of TEAK and the PAL as well as quick visits to the schools at Seoul. FEA Executive Director/General Counsel HT Nguyen was able to attend the meetings in Korea as well.
Currently, HT and I are Okinawa doing school visits and attending their annual retirement celebration. I will finish up with a brief visit to the NEATA meeting in Tokyo before returning to the US.
Many thanks to all the local leaders who helped make my visit so pleasant and productive. Thank you also to all those members who took time to meet with me. Feedback from members is vital to help us advocate for the needs of teachers, students and our schools. This trip was also a great chance to see the wonderful work that our members do with students every day. As I continue to say, the success of DoDEA is because of what is done in schools every day, not what is done in far away offices.
In speaking with members around the world, there are clearly numerous issues and concerns: From the disastrous implementation of CCRSM, to continual problems with technology, to the lack of HR support, to uncertainty about the impact of RSA, and of course, ongoing payroll and debt issues, this has been a very difficult and stressful year.
FEA will continue to address these very real concerns with DoDEA. While the word accountability is often applied to teachers, we must hold all levels of DoDEA accountable for addressing these concerns.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
Over the past years, we have closed numerous DDESS and DoDDS schools, we have lost teachers due to the decrease in student population, and we have even cut ES specialists in DDESS and cut other staffing to the bone, and yet the number of above-school-level personnel seems to continue to expand. Does anyone really believe that more people in our system, who don't work with students, are going to improve student achievement?
GREAT NEWS, MUSIC EDUCATORS!
Tired of waiting for management to fund professional development that was both teacher driven and subject specific, an FEA member applied for and was awarded a grant from the National Education Association (NEA) Center for Great Public Schools to do just that!
FEA will be partnering with the European Music Educators Association (EMEA) and music educators DoDEA wide to develop a viable and sustainable professional development plan for the implementation of the new National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) being adopted by DoDEA, working closely with an international consultant who will provide a combination of in-person and online instruction and guidance. Cohort members will be funded to attend conferences during SY 2016/2017 in exchange for completing collaborative cohort work by deadlines stated and continuing in teacher leadership roles in SY 2017/18.
Are you interested in becoming a cohort member? Please read additional information and fill out the form at this link by JUNE 1st, 2016 so we can communicate with you about next steps. Questions? Please contact Alina Rozanski at this e-mail or this one.
As you are aware, management has exercised their right to open our Negotiated Agreement for bargaining. FEA firmly believes any contract impacting the working conditions of our members, and therefore the learning conditions of our students, must have input from practicing educators at the table. To that end, we are seeking a diverse team of educators to be part of this process. When bargaining begins, it will require participants to be in DC for an extended length of time.
A number of members have already indicated their interest. If you are interested, please send a short statement to FEAlegal@nea.org, outlining your work history with DoDEA (locations, grade/subjects, etc) as well as your experience with the Association and or any other bargaining experience you might have.
Once dates are set for bargaining, the FEA BOD will review the applications to make the final selections.
This is important, so I'm repeating this information from my last update: If you are planning to leave the FEA (Overseas) Bargaining Unit at the end of this year, either by retiring or resigning or because you are moving to DDESS or you have been transferred to the Med District, be sure to file a "Goodbye Grievance" early enough so that you will have enough time to elevate it before your last day of duty. This grievance was developed by FEA UniServ Bill Freeman in order to allow FEA to represent the members after they retire or resign and to ensure their rights under the Debt Collection Act and the Negotiated Agreement. We have heard far too many stories of retirees receiving erroneous debt letters. Ask your FRS for a copy of the forms for the Goodbye Grievance as well as the Request to Elevate.
FEDERAL EMPLOYEE VIEWPOINT SURVEY
If you receive an invitation to participate in this survey, please do take time to fill this out. Make your voice heard! This survey closes June 8.
It is vital that FEA's Washington DC office have the most current and accurate contact information for each school's association leaders so that we can send FRSs/Stateside Local Presidents (or their designee) information and materials prior to the start of next school year. By now, every current DODDS FRS/Stateside Local President should have received a Materials Delivery Request form from your Area Director (if you did not receive one, please contact Nereyda in the FEA Washington office at firstname.lastname@example.org). Please be sure to fill out and return this form to FEA's Washington DC office so we have the contact information we need to mail materials this summer. Thank you!
By the next update, some of our Stateside schools will be beginning their summer break. Here's wishing our members there a relaxing and refreshing summer. For our schools that are continuing, hang in there….summer is coming!
FEA/NEA ANNUAL MEETINGS
Another rite of summer is the annual meetings of FEA and NEA (the NEA meeting is better known at the Representative Assembly, or RA). Both meetings are being held this year in Washington DC. Delegates to the NEA RA have already been elected, but any FEA member can attend the FEA Annual Membership Meeting and is encouraged to do so. The FEA meeting will take place all day July 1 and from about 8am-1pm on July 2 at The Fairmont Hotel, 2401 M St. NW in Washington DC. No advance registration is required, but any member wishing to attend is encouraged to inform FEA staffer Gary Hritz at this e-mail, so we can make sure we've got enough seating for those who attend. The FEA Annual Meeting is a great chance for members to hear from and question FEA Board members about the many issues we are facing and I encourage anyone in the DC area this summer to attend.