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August 26 2009 FEA President's Report

To: FEA Members and Local Leaders Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: August 26, 2009


WELCOME BACK! -- By now, all FEA members have reported back to school, and most of our DDESS members are already well into School Year 2009-2010. To all of you, I wish you a fantastic school year. I hope your summer break was rejuvenating and you are ready once again to undertake the most important work imaginable: educating our children. This promises to be a very interesting year, as we continue to fight plans to increase middle school class sizes and counter the ongoing misrepresentations from Headquarters that educators are "complacent and apathetic" about the job they do with children. As always, I want to assure our members that FEA is prepared to take up any fight so that you can always remain focused on your number one priority: the students!

GRADESPEED UPDATE -- In an attempt to circumvent the MOU that management signed with the Association, Dr. Shirley Miles issued late last night her new policy on the use of Gradespeed. While acknowledging that there really is no problem, the policy imposes timelines on inputting grades, dictates the use for all teachers (Grades 4-12), and sets up a loophole for students who fail to blame the teacher. FEA was provided with this new policy late Tuesday afternoon and will take appropriate legal steps in this matter. While we disagree with the issuance of Dr. Miles' policy memorandum and consider it a violation of existing MOU's, this policy must be followed unless and until FEA can get it reversed through legal challenges.

KINDERGARTEN ELA -- Late this summer, DoDEA informed FEA that it had purchased a new reading program for kindergarten teachers, called Reading Streets. We learned at that time that this new program was entirely different than the Literacy Place program. This new Reading Streets program is being pushed by DoDEA partly because it offers online inservice training for teachers. FEA has asked for a delay in implementation due to several concerns:
  1. Kindergarten teachers should be provided with appropriate in-service training on these new reading materials
  2. The materials for the new program are not yet in all the schools
  3. The available online training for this program is insufficient for a new implementation
  4. The online training takes place via a Webinar, which is scheduled for times that will not work for overseas educators in DoDDS

FEA also has concerns about the quality of this program, based upon critiques of the program from teachers in U.S. public schools who have used Reading Streets. FEA has suggested that Reading Street be used only as a pilot program for now, until adequate inservice training is made available by the program's publisher and the effectiveness of the program and training materials can be measured. FEA does not want a repeat of the mistakes that were made by DoDEA Headquarters years ago during the implementation of Math Land. So far, DoDEA Headquarters is unwilling to delay implementation. FEA will take immediate legal action to deal with this unilateral implementation.

IRP -- Use of the Instructionally Related Period (IRP) is governed by the MOU between FEA and DoDEA management. The MOU (available at http://www.feaonline.org/media/MOUs/FEAMOU_Implementation_7_Period_Day_Schedules.pdf, login required) includes safeguards for how the IRP period can be used. Management has tried in the past to violate this agreement. FEA responded to those attempts by litigating, and we prevailed. If there is an attempt to violate this MOU again, FEA will once again litigate the issue. Please keep your local Association leaders informed about any efforts by management to infringe upon the IRP period.

CHILDCARE NACI -- FEA is working with DoDEA management to be sure faculty and staff will be given adequate time to collect necessary paperwork and other background information required for the Childcare National Agency Check Investigations (CNACI). At this time, you do not yet need to start the process of working on this; more information on the CNACI will be coming from management later this school year.

LEGAL UPDATE -- FEA Executive Director/General Counsel H.T. Nguyen is working on a legal update to be sent to out via our list serv and posted on the FEA Web site. The update will give members advice on how to deal with potential removal actions taken against educators by management. See the item below for information on how to subscribe to our list serv so you can be sure to receive that important legal update from HT.

ONLINE RESOURCES -- Two valuable resources every new and returning FEA member should be aware of are our FEA Web site and list serv. The Web site can be found at www.feaonline.org and contains links to just about every bit of information FEA puts out, including salary tables and organizers, membership forms and updates from myself and around FEA. An especially useful service FEA members should take advantage of is our list serv. By going to www.feaonline.org/listserv.htm, you can sign up to have my FEA President's Report and other information sent directly to your e-mail address. It's a great way to stay informed.

FEA JOURNAL -- The new issue of the FEA Journal, our quarterly membership newsletter, is also available at www.feaonline.org. The Journal is a great source of information for our current members, as well as any potential new members who would like to know more about FEA and the services we provide.

NEA ACADEMY -- The NEA Academy is a great source of professional development materials and opportunities for any association member looking to improve their skills. Check it out!

TRAVEL --I will be on the road the next few weeks traveling to schools meeting with members. There will be a number of school visits and FRS trainings, along with open meetings after school. Some of those group meetings (through mid-September) are as followings:

Friday, August 28: Netzaberg complex for lunch/Vilseck complex for late afternoon meeting
Monday, August 31: Illesheim ES for lunch/Ansbach complex after school meeting
Tuesday, September 1: Stuttgart (Patch) after school meeting
Wednesday, September 2: Mannheim complex after school meeting
Thursday, September 3: Wiesbaden complex evening dinner
Tuesday, September 8: Menwith Hill after school meeting
Wednesday, September 9: Alconbury complex after school meeting
Thursday, September 10: Feltwell complex after school meeting
Tuesday, September 15: Kaiserslautern (KAEA) after school meeting (TBD)
Saturday, September 19: Stateside Area Council meeting, Nashville, Tennessee

Also: HT Nguyen, FEA Executive Director/General Counsel, will be meeting with educators in Okinawa on Thursday, September 3, to update them on recent news and issues affecting them as DoDEA employees. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Globe & Anchor on Camp Foster. All educators are invited to attend this event.

Again, welcome back, and I hope you have a great school year!