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August 23, 2011 FEA President's Report

To: FEA Members and Local Leaders Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: August 23, 2011


WELCOME BACK! -- Many of our DDESS members are already well into the new school year while the rest of us are just about to take the plunge. Whatever your status, I want to welcome everyone back from a very long, hot summer break. I hope everyone is returning fully recharged and excited about the new school year. The start of school is always a cherished time, as we look out on all those new faces and reaffirm our commitment to help each and every one of them succeed. I hope you all have a fantastic 2011-2012 school year!

WELCOME ABOARD -- I especially want to welcome all the new faculty and staff members who are joining DoDDS and DDESS for the first time this school year. You've joined an amazing family and this experience will change your life. Your fellow employees are ready and willing to help you with any questions you have and FEA is always there as your Professional Association, advocating on your behalf and making sure your rights are always protected. I wish you much success in your new career!

THANK YOU -- FEA only exists because members like you choose to support us as your Professional Association. Thank you so much for doing so! Your support allows us to remain a strong voice for DoDEA faculty, staff and students. We will always strive to do our best for you and ensure that DDESS and DoDDS remain outstanding school systems.

A special "thank you" also goes to all of your fellow members who have taken on leadership positions within the Association. We simply could not function without our hundreds of FRSs, FRs. Building Representatives, local Association Presidents and Officers, Human & Civil Rights Coordinators, Country Presidents, District Representatives, Area Directors and At-Large Board of Directors members. These individuals voluntarily take on very difficult tasks and I hope all members will join me in showing our appreciation for the job these leaders do.

Being involved in FEA is not just for elected leaders. There are many opportunities for you to help your Local Association by serving on committees, helping with various events or volunteering just a few minutes of your time. I urge all of our members to become ACTIVELY involved in your Professional Association. If you're not sure how, just approach your Building Rep or Local President and ask how you can help them help you.

MAXIMIZE THE LEARNING -- FEA wants DoDEA to acknowledge that some of its practices (well intentioned though they may be) are actually doing much more harm than good. We want DoDEA to "Maximize the Learning" by working with us to achieve these three goals:
  1. Decreasing the burden of new initiatives so that educators have more time to spend actually educating students, instead of being buried in paperwork and trainings for yet another "great idea" from DoDEA Headquarters.

  2. Promoting more and better quality local decision making throughout DoDEA. It is impossible to make every little decision affecting a worldwide school system from a lofty perch at DoDEA Headquarters -- put competent people in each building and let them do their jobs!

  3. The availability and quality of professional development opportunities for DoDEA faculty and staff must be improved. Stop the "one size fits all" UDDI approach and give educators useful training in their curricular areas.

The August FEA Journal highlighted these issues and introduced our "Maximize the Learning" campaign. We encourage everyone who supports this cause to hang up the poster on page 6 of the FEA Journal We'll soon be sending additional posters and buttons to all members with the "Maximize the Learning" message. Let's make sure management hears us loud and clear!

DDESS TRANSFER THREAT -- The current budget-cutting mania is leading some short-sighted politicians to again suggest turning DDESS schools over to the local school systems in their communities. FEA is working on talking points and other information our DDESS locals can use to fight these threats. We have successfully fought off these attempts in the past by showing that very little money can actually be saved through closing DDESS schools. Getting this message through to politicians in the present climate of "cut first, consider the consequences later" is going to require ALL Stateside members to become actively involved. Check with your local leaders for what you can do.

SURESTART TEACHERS -- FEA and DoDEA have reached an agreement that the starting date for Surestart student this school year will be Thursday, September 15. The MOU is posted on the FEA website.

TRAINING ON ASPEN -- FEA and DoDDS have also reached an agreement on training for ASPEN, new student data system. This program was piloted last year in a number of our schools worldwide. The MOU is posted on the FEA website.

DOMESTIC PARTNERS -- New information was released over the summer on requesting RAT travel, LQA and Post Allowances for domestic partners, under the terms of new DoD policies. Read FEA's update on issues affecting domestic partners.

HANDY TIPS -- There are many useful resources available through the Web sites of FEA, NEA (www.nea.org), and NEA Member Benefits (www.neamb.com). Here are a few particular resources I want to point out:
  • Works4Me -- Access thousands of tips from your fellow NEA members to help you in every aspect of your career. You can even sign up to have tips sent to you each week. www.nea.org/tools/Works4Me.html

  • NEA Academy -- As a member, you can sign up for hundreds of classes at reduced tuition rates. www.neaacademy.org

  • Tools & Ideas -- Get ideas for lesson plans, tips for classroom management, strategies to help you teach and much more. www.nea.org/home/ToolsAndIdeas.html

  • Bnetsavvy -- A great resource to help us adults keep up with the ever changing world of online networking and communications, especially as a way to help kids be safe while online. www.bnetsavvy.org


SIGN UP -- All FEA members are encouraged to go to www.feaonline.org/listserv.htm and sign up to have this update sent directly to your personal email account. To do so, you'll need to login using your FEA Membership ID number. That number is printed on the FEA membership card you receive at the start of the school year. It's also printed on page 12 of your FEA Journal newsletter (look for the pointing finger). We typically send out these updates at least twice per month throughout the school year, with special updates sent out as needed. They are a great tool for keeping yourself up to date on all the issues affecting you as a DoDEA employee.

Again, welcome back and have a great school year!