June 1, 2017, FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: June 1, 2017


The budget proposal recently released by the White House included a series of proposals which, if enacted, would do serious harm to federal employees' retirements and make it much more difficult for the federal government to hire and retain qualified employees. The proposals include increasing the employee retirement contribution over several years to 6 percent, basing pensions on employees' high 5 years instead of the current 3 years, and reducing or eliminating COLAs for current and future federal retirees.

For now, these changes are just proposals. However, these ideas are not new among those who dislike federal workers and want to balance the budget on our backs. Furthermore, the current animosity towards federal employees we are seeing in Washington makes the possibility of these cuts being adopted more of a danger than ever before.

FEA will work with its partners in the federal labor coalitions to which we belong, as well as work with NEA, to fight any attempt to enact these or other punitive measures aimed at our workers and other federal employees. It's going to be a tough fight and we will let our members know whenever there is something you can do to make sure your voices are heard by those in DC who seek to punish you for your years of federal service.


Several schools in the Pacific and Europe have informed our DC office of notices they've received from their administrators about an attempt by DoDEA to unilaterally extend the duty day at their schools by 15 to 20 minutes. Such an extension, if implemented, would be a violation of the negotiated agreement between DoDEA and FEA. We have asked DoDEA headquarters staff to look into this situation and pointed out to them that, if such a change were unilaterally implemented, FEA would litigate the issue and seek a return to the status quo and/or additional compensation for those employees affected by the extension. We are awaiting more information on this issue from DoDEA Headquarters.


Management has also informed FEA of its intention to unilaterally implement the new performance appraisal system known as "New Beginnings" as early as May 2018. For the Overseas side of the house (FEA Stateside is pursuing a different, but just as proactive, course of action) we have reminded management that appraisals are covered by the DoDDS Educator Performance Appraisal System (EPAS), negotiated by FEA and management, as well as by Article 14 of the FEA/DODDS Negotiated Agreement. Therefore, any attempt by management to unilaterally implement New Beginnings while the current contract is in full force would be a violation. Should this happen, FEA would litigate the issue.


Well, this time I am in England as this update goes out. Along with NEA Government Relations Specialist Heather Valentine, I have been visiting schools in the Alconbury and Lakenheath complexes. On Wednesday, we were also happy to be able to attend the Lakenheath Education Association's End of the Year Celebration, which honors retirees from the area schools. This is always a great event.

Last week, FEA Executive Director/General Counsel HT Nguyen and I finished up a great two-week trip in the Pacific, visiting Korea, Okinawa and Japan. There were many highlights, including a wonderful retirement celebration in Okinawa, attending the PAL meeting, as well as numerous school visits. As always, it was inspiring to see so many great teachers at work.

In Japan we were joined by NEA Director for FEA Anita Lang and our special guest, NEA Executive Director John Stocks. This was a great opportunity for John to meet our members and to hear about the issues we face. Among the issues members raised frequently were the poor quality of the professional development provided by DoDEA for the CCR rollout, the lack of HR support, and of course, debt letters. It is always interesting to see the shock and disbelief on our visitors' faces when they begin to see the extent of the pay problems our members continue to endure. It is good to know that we have NEA's support as we face these ongoing problems.

Our thanks to both John and Heather for taking time from their very full schedules to join us on these trips. And of course, many thanks to ALL the leaders and members in the Pacific and Europe who helped with all the travel arrangements, took time to speak with us, and made our visits so pleasant and productive.


As I travel around our system, I consistently hear the frustration from our educators over the poor quality of the professional development offered by DoDEA for the CCR rollout. In meeting after meeting, teachers have told me it does not meet their needs and is not giving them the tools and strategies that they need to meet the needs of our students. FEA will continue to advocate for relevant, meaningful professional development for all of our educators. With the upcoming rollout of Social Studies and Science, DoDEA must take into account the needs of our teachers and students rather than relying on contractors with no knowledge of our students or our system. Jane Loggins, FEA Director for DDESS, and I will be meeting with the DoDEA Education Directorate soon and will advocate for changes and improvements in the professional development offered to our educators.


Across our system, many schools are still plagued by the shortage of substitute teachers that has negatively impacted programs in our schools. Classes are combined; small group specialists, counselors and others are tasked with filling in; paraprofessionals are pulled from programs; and the list goes on. FEA has been addressing this issue with DoDEA HQ since this past fall, but the issue is still unresolved. FEA will continue to press for better, faster hiring practices to ensure our schools are fully staffed to meet the needs of our students.


Congratulations to the 2018 DoDEA Teacher of the Year, Kara Fernandez. Kara is a 3rd grade teacher at Delalio ES, Camp Lejeune EA, and will be a great representative for the thousands of outstanding educators in our schools.


We are also pleased to announce that Donelle Pistorino, LeJeune Education Support Association, has been selected as one of sixteen NEA ESP Leaders for Tomorrow. This is an intensive leadership development program designed to give participants the confidence, skills, and knowledge to become the future leaders in their local and state organizations.