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September 15 2009 FEA President's Report

To: FEA Members and Local Leaders
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: September 15, 2009


ASPEN -- A reminder to all of the DoDDS teachers, counselors, nurses or other educators who worked the weekend before school started to re-enter data due to problems with the ASPEN pilot program: at FEA's request, Dr. Miles has agreed to compensate you for this extra work. You should submit (in writing) to your building principal a statement of the number of hours you worked the weekend of August 29-30 to fix ASPEN-related problems. Be sure to also send a copy of this statement to your building's FRS.

GIFTED EDUCATION -- FEA raised the concern that principals are mandating a change in the delivery model for gifted education during the first month of school. Joel Hansen, from DoDEA Headquarters, responded to FEA, stating that "there are no changes to the Gifted Ed program in DoDEA." Please inform your FRS immediately if your principal attempts to mandate any changes from past practice with the Gifted Education program.

PREP TIME LEGAL UPDATE COMING -- DoDDS is trying to conduct trainings during teacher prep time periods. All members represented by FEA should keep records of the amount of prep time they are losing to such training sessions so that FEA can use this data in litigation. FEA General Counsel H.T. Nguyen is preparing a legal update on this issue, to be posted soon on our Website and sent out via our e-mail list.

GRADESPEED -- Please remember that, although the new policy on Gradespeed released by Dr. Miles is clearly in violation of the existing MOU, the policy must be followed until FEA can get it reversed through legal action. The policy is written in such a way as to blame the teacher for any potential problems and the system itself is completely unworkable. FEA is proceeding with litigation on this issue.

TARGETING EDUCATORS -- In case you missed it, H.T. Nguyen sent out a very detailed and chilling legal update on August 27, detailing efforts by DoDEA to "go after" educators. The undefined "accountability" Dr. Miles is so fond of citing is being used as a pretext to badger educators in their classrooms, despite the continued academic excellence of our students and their teachers. Meanwhile, the list of DoDEA management blunders (Excent, SMS, ASPEN, the new Social Studies implementation, etc.) continues to grow with no one in DoDEA ever being held "accountable" for those costly and distracting mistakes. All DoDEA educators are highly urged to read H.T.'s legal update.

CONGRATULATIONS -- We've already heard from our first local association to reach 100 percent membership this year. Congratulations to the faculty and staff at Osan Middle School in Korea for reaching this mark. FEA is extremely grateful for your support and enthusiasm! Any other local associations who have reached 100 percent membership are asked to send notice to Gary Hritz, FEA's Director of Communications & Membership Development, so we can share the good news in an upcoming President's Report. You can reach Gary at fea@feaonline.org

SWINE FLU -- As the annual flu season nears, everyone is understandably nervous about the possibility of contracting the H1N1 (or Swine Flu) virus. Arm yourself with the facts and learn what you can do to protect yourself: visit the NEA Health Information Network for loads of information on the virus.

REDUCED-PRICE MEALS -- DoDEA has posted information for families who wish to apply for free and reduced-priced meals in Europe and the Pacific. Please take a moment to review this information, in case you receive any inquiries about it or need to refer a parent to the information:

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE -- Dr. Miles has made headlines for her less-than-complimentary opinions of DoDEA educators and our schools' performance. Fortunately her boss, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, has a much more positive attitude about DoDEA schools. In fact, at a recent meeting with military parents in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Gates acknowledged that military parents would love to have DoDEA schools at more military installations and said he will look into the possibility. You can read the Army Times story here.

SPECIAL VISITOR -- Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association and a longtime friend to FEA, will be visiting the Lakenheath Education Association on September 17. Dennis will be speaking at 4 p.m. that day, at a reception to be held at the Liberty Club. I hope all Association members will come out to hear Dennis, share your questions and concerns with him, and make him feel welcome. FEA Executive Director/General Counsel H.T. Nguyen will be accompanying Dennis on his visit and will update members on recent news and issues affecting them as DoDEA employees..

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH -- September 15 marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. A great resource for books and bilingual lesson plans to help you observe this celebration can be found at www.reforma.org/CYASC.htm.

MORE SCHOOL VISITS -- I'm currently finishing up a four-week visit to schools in Europe, and will be attending the FEA Stateside Area Council meeting this weekend. I want to thank everyone who had a hand in arranging, hosting or otherwise facilitating my visit. I also want to thank the many members who took time to meet with me and share their questions and concerns. I will next be visiting schools in Asia at the end of this month and in October. While details are still being worked out with local leaders, my schedule is tentatively arranged as:
Sept 29 Zama complex
Sept 30 Yokosuka complex
Oct 1 Yokota complex
October 5 Iwakuni complex
October 8 or 9 Osan Middle School
(FRS training in Seoul, Korea on October 8/9)

ASSOCIATION DAY IN EUROPE -- FEA Europe will be hosting an "Association Day" on Saturday, Sept 19th in Heidelberg. FEA Executive Director/General Counsel, HT Nguyen, will be the featured speaker. FEA UniServs Jan Freeman, Bill Freeman and Sequitta Banks, and European leaders will be available too. The meeting will be held at the Schützenhaus, Rudolf-Wild-Straße 109, 69214 Eppelheim, Germany? - 06221 752875?. This is very close to Patrick Henry Village in Heidelberg. Association Day will start at 9 a.m., with the Association providing breakfast and the session will end at approximately 12:30. Plan now to attend to hear the latest news from FEA.

ABOVE AND BEYOND -- Prior to the beginning of this school year, at every DoDEA school, many faculty and staff came in during their last free weekend to make sure classrooms were ready for the students arrival. Such dedication by these education professionals should demonstrate to anyone that statements about them being apathetic and uncaring are simply untrue. I want to thank and praise all of you who gave your time in this manner. I especially want to recognize the educators at Illesheim Elementary. Ceiling repairs and the subsequent clean up at their school kept them out of the building until noon on the day before classes started. Despite this, and the mess that remained, these educators worked until late in the night on Sunday to make sure their classrooms were ready for students to arrive the next day. This type of dedication and commitment by DoDEA educators is not uncommon, but it does deserve praise.

EXPRESS YOURSELF -- Many of our members are understandably upset about ongoing efforts to target educators and degrade the excellent work you and your students have done over the past decade. Remember, as a federal employee, you have an absolute right to redress grievances about such management conduct to Congress. FEA has posted a sample letter for you to use and links to the House and Senate so you can easily let your elected representatives know how you feel. Go to www.feaonline.org/sos to find that information. Please remember not to use government property (including computers) or government time when doing so.

Have a great week!