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June 1 2012 FEA President's Report

To: FEA Members Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: June 1, 2012


BAS (Benchmark Assessment System/K-3 Reading Assessment) -- DoDEA and FEA will participate in mediation under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) today (June 1) on trying to resolve the issues on the spring assessment for BAS. Again, we are continuing to monitor the situation in the field. Teachers should be provided with substitute teachers for as many days as necessary to complete the testing. Principals should not limit sub coverage to one or two days. No FEA bargaining unit employee should be inputting data. We are hopeful that DoDEA's commitment to listen to teachers in the field will prevail as we work through this mediation process.


DARE -- DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is one of the drug education programs that has been used in DoDEA schools. DoDEA has just informed FEA that it will not renew the DARE contract. FEA is opposed to this decision from Arlington. DARE has been a very good program that builds on positive relationship between the military police, the military community and our schools. It has allowed the M.P's who know the community, housing areas and families very well to work in a positive school environment with our children. FEA would like to keep this proactive partnership going. DoDEA's plan is not only to get rid of DARE, but also to develop its own "drug education" program that it would impose on classroom teachers to implement. So, not only would those in Arlington remove a positive link between the military community and the schools, they would add one more layer of a "special program" that teachers would be required to implement into the instructional day. FEA believes this is not in the best interests of students and has asked the Director to reconsider this decision.


TRANSFER PROGRAM WRAP-UP -- As the school year comes to an end, there was some cost savings in placements, allowing a few more Group D transfers to occur. DoDEA Headquarters is currently examining the cost to see if there are any additional savings related to current moves. FEA is aware of the efficiency requirements from the Pentagon. We are working closely with the Director and will keep members informed of any progress that occurs.


FEA/NEA ANNUAL MEETINGS -- Members are encouraged to attend the FEA Annual Membership Meeting, being held June 29 and 30 at the Fairmont Washington Hotel in Washington, DC. The FEA meeting is open to all members, Active and Retired, and is a chance to hear from your elected representatives as well as raise any issues/questions you have. The FEA meeting will immediately precede the NEA Representative Assembly. For information on both meetings, go to FEA's Annual Meeting Information page.


TRAVEL -- Next week, I will be visiting Zama and Misawa complex. The local leaders will be setting up FEA meetings for the complex. Check with your FRS as to when these will be occurring. As always, I look forward to meeting with members and experiencing firsthand the great work that you do. Last month I had great visits in Korea, Okinawa and mainland Japan. I appreciate all you do for the children of our military personnel.


NEA ACADEMY -- Those of you looking for professional development materials and coursework are reminded to check out the NEA Academy Web site this summer, www.neaacademy.org. The NEA Academy offers a number of degrees and specialized certificate programs at significantly reduced rates for FEA/NEA members. As always, we advise anyone hoping to receive credit for a course to check with DoDEA to be sure they will accept the course.


DOMESTIC PARTNER BENEFITS -- For some time, FEA has been working with the Pentagon and DoDEA to obtain benefits -- such as Living Quarters Allowance and Post Allowance -- for same-sex domestic partners of DoDEA employees and their dependents. DoDEA Director Marilee Fitzgerald will be issuing a memo within a few days, explaining how to apply for these benefits. Once that memo is issued, eligible DoDEA employees will be able to apply online for the extension of these benefits to your same-sex domestic partner and dependents. FEA will be issuing a legal update on this issue next week with more details.


REGISTER -- Voting is the right and responsibility of every good citizen. FEA encourages all its members to take a few moments this summer to ensure they are registered to vote in the fall elections. Since most of our members are overseas on election day, you should also look into the process for filing an absentee ballot. You can find voter registration information and materials through your state or local government and online at various sites. Registering to vote and voting in elections are not violations of the Hatch Act and, in fact, the federal government actively encourages all of its employees to vote. As always, you must follow all Hatch Act prohibitions against partisan and political activities in the workplace and in your capacity as a federal employee. For more information on the Hatch Act, see DoDEA's page on allowable and prohibited political activities at this link.


OUR APOLOGIES -- Kinnick High School, in Japan, was accidentally omitted from a FEA Journal list of schools that had met their Plus 1 membership goals for school year 2011-2012. I've visited Kinnick several times and know first-hand how strong the local association there is and what great leadership and membership support that school enjoys. We are very sorry for this omission and thank everyone at Kinnick for your strong support of FEA this year and every year.


THANK YOU AND GOODBYE-- On behalf of the Association, I want to thank all of you for the amazing work you've done throughout this school year. The reason why DoDEA schools are recognized as outstanding is because of what happens in the schools and classrooms every day, and none of that can happen without each of you. Congratulations on the completion of another great school year.

In addition, I want to thank each of you for your ongoing membership in and support of the Federal Education Association. Without you, we are nothing -- it's that simple. We hope you are as proud of your professional association as we are to represent you.

Finally, best wishes and a very hearty "congratulations" to all of our FEA members who are retiring from DoDEA after this school year. You have spent your lives doing the most important work there is in any society: educating and preparing its young people for the lives they will lead. Unlike some people who head into retirement wondering "what did I accomplish?", you have a lifetime of raised hands, smiling faces and "light bulb moments" to look back on for your efforts. Congratulations, and best wishes to you all as you head into this next chapter of your lives!


I hope you all have a wonderful summer. See you next August!