September 1 2019 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Brian Chance, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: September 1, 2019
FIRST MEETING WITH THE DoDEA DIRECTOR
I had the opportunity recently to meet with DoDEA Director Tom Brady, my first meeting with him since I assumed the office of FEA President. Our meeting was cordial but direct and both of us agreed to work toward better communication and to seek areas of agreement between management and the Association where we can work together. While acknowledging that the Agency and the Association are in the bargaining process we agreed to meet on a regular basis and to look for ways of improving the labor/management relationship.
Following the departure of Melanie Horton from DoDEA for health reasons, the FEA Board of Directors, acting on a recommendation from Melanie and the members of the FEA Pacific Area Council, has named James (Jamie) Sellers to complete the last year of Melanie's current term as FEA Pacific Area Director. Members can reach Jamie at FEAPacific@yahoo.com. In addition, Mary Anne Harris has been appointed to serve as President of AEAO (American Educators Association Okinawa), the position Jamie had been in before he assumed the Pacific Area Director position. She can be reached at AEAO.President@gmail.com. We are very grateful to both Jamie and Mary Anne for stepping into these roles and we continue to send our thoughts and best wishes to Melanie!
STAFFING SHORTAGES/CLASS CUTS
We are hearing of numerous examples of overcrowded classrooms and staffing shortages in many locations. Some of these are due to higher than anticipated enrollment but many of these situations could have been avoided, or at least alleviated, had DoDEA management not unwisely and unnecessarily increased middle/high school PTR and reduced staff.
A situation that was completely avoidable was the elimination of course offerings at many schools, including the total elimination of the FLES programs throughout DoDEA elementary schools. With the school year now underway everywhere in DoDEA, parents and students are beginning to see first-hand the misplaced priorities of DoDEA management.
BACK TO WORK
Congress has been in recess the past month but will reconvene September 9. NEA Government Relations continues to work on a number of issues on behalf of FEA and its members, including raising awareness of DoDEA's illegal contract implementation and the additional, unpaid 24 hours Stateside employees are illegally being made to work (also, as a reminder, FEA-Stateside has an arbitration scheduled on the contract issue for September 11). Other issues being worked on are an effort to defund the politically-appointed and overwhelmingly anti-employee Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) and continuing to urge inclusion in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act of language to extend moving tax reimbursement to both incoming and departing civilian feds, including DoDEA workers. As always, we are very thankful for NEA Government Relations' efforts on behalf of FEA and its members.
A NEW THREAT
NEA Government Relations is also monitoring an effort by some in Congress to allow military parents to spend taxpayer dollars on private schools and homeschooling; basically, an effort to create back-door vouchers for military families. The Education Savings Account for Military Families Act of 2019 would allow military families to divert money from tax-deductible Education Savings Accounts to unaccountable private schools, online schools or even to fund homeschooling. It's not hard to imagine how such funding would be abused by for-profit "educators" while simultaneously threatening the continued existence of DoDEA schools, especially those located Stateside. NEA GR is fighting this bill as it moves through Congress and is making sure lawmakers know of the true intent and damage this bill would do if passed.
A new policy announced by the Trump Administration this week is creating a lot of confusion over the citizenship status of military and civilian workers whose children are born overseas. The policy, as best we can understand it, would impact only servicemembers and U.S. civilian workers who were not born U.S. citizens and who obtained their citizenship while overseas or who lived in the U.S. for only a limited time after obtaining citizenship. Such individuals whose children are born outside of the U.S. now face an additional application process in order to have their children declared citizens. The change will affect all children born after October 29 of this year. It is unclear how many DoDEA employees would be impacted by this policy. Initial indications are very few, if any, should be affected. FEA and NEA will work to oppose any policy that creates unnecessary paths to citizenship for the children of our members or the military personnel we serve.
NEA held two Educator Voice Academy sessions over the summer, designed to promote leadership in the Association, engage members and promote membership. NEA funded several FEA members to attend these trainings in Chicago and Washington DC and we're very grateful for NEA's willingness to do so. I want to thank our members who attended this training and we will continue to look for other opportunities available through NEA and our fellow state affiliates to help our members and local leaders grow as professionals and as leaders in the Association.
ON THE ROAD
I will be traveling quite a bit this month, attending Association meetings and leadership trainings in all three of our geographic areas. Thank you in advance for your understanding and patience if I am slow to respond to any messages sent to me.
COMP LIFE INSURANCE
Members are reminded to visit this page on the NEA Member Benefits site in order to designate a beneficiary for the complimentary life insurance, including AD&D coverage, you automatically receive as an Association member. The policy is a modest amount and it's a topic no one ever likes to think about, but should the worst ever occur it will surely be helpful to whomever you name as beneficiary to have this additional help. While at the NEA Member Benefits site, please take time to look over the many other programs and discounts available to you as an FEA/NEA member.