September 16 2010 FEA President's ReportTo: FEA Members and Local Leaders
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: September 16, 2010
UDDI/TerraNova-BlueBook/Professional Development -- FEA continues to negotiate with DoDEA Headquarters regarding meaningful Professional Development for educators. FEA remains concerned over the lack of meaningful Professional Development in the curricular areas in which educators work. We are also concerned over the lack of Professional Development opportunities for elementary teachers the past two summers. FEA continues to oppose a one-size-fits-all approach to Professional Development along with any attempt to emphasize teaching to a norm-referenced standardized test. We have asked that the DoDEA Headquarters initiatives of UDDI and TerraNova/BlueBook training be held in abeyance pending the completion of bargaining that recognizes the local needs of our educators.
LOSS OF STUDENT COMPUTERS -- Last year DoDEA Headquarters announced a new policy affecting computers used by students, referred to as the 2-1 (student to computer) ratio. At the time this policy was announced, FEA insisted that schools be allowed to keep computers above this 2-1 ratio if they were needed for educational programs. This policy was not to be implemented until fall 2011. DoDEA has also asserted that every school has submitted an individual plan for how they will implement this significant reduction in the number of computers available for students. Unfortunately, over this past summer, 1,000 computers were removed from schools in the Pacific. DoDEA's own survey has shown that this has had a negative impact on students and the educational program across the Pacific. FEA has requested that local association leaders in the Pacific schools work with their administrators to determine their true technology requirements necessary to maintain the quality of education in their schools.
In addition, FEA has requested a list of every school in DoDDS and DDESS and what their net loss of computers will be in the fall of 2011. We will ask our local leaders to work with administrators to clearly define the impact losing these computers will have on their current educational programs. The military community should be aware that over 23,000 computers are slated to be removed from DoDEA schools by the summer of 2011. FEA believes that this loss will have a significantly negative impact and is not acceptable if DoDEA wishes to maintain the quality of education offered to our military dependents. In the next few weeks, FEA will be sending Association building leaders information on the cuts to computers DoDEA plans to make in each of their buildings.
ILLEGAL REGULATIONS -- We recently learned that, just prior to the end of her tenure as DoDEA Director, Dr. Shirley Miles had issued seven new regulations affecting working conditions. These regulations were issued in violation of Federal Labor Relations Law because they were issued without notice being given to the Association and also without any of the issues being bargained with the Association. We have notified the new management of DoDEA of these illegally issued regulations and we are working with management to resolve this situation. Management has indicated a willingness to rescind these illegal regulations.
NEW ERA -- FEA is working with the new Director of DoDEA, Marilee Fitzgerald, to implement an Executive Order issued by President Obama some time ago, mandating that government agencies include labor unions such as FEA in "pre-decisional involvement." Pre-decisional involvement means that as soon as management comes up with a concept that would affect members they must begin consulting with FEA in order to ensure awareness of our concerns and position on the issue. This contrasts with the old model of labor/management relations, in which management deciding on its course of action for an issue and then undertook bargaining of the issue with the Association, effectively trying to force its position on our members.
FEA will continue its work to have Pre-Decisional Involvement implemented not just at the FEA Washington/DoDEA Headquarters level, but also at the Area, District, and school levels. It should be obvious to everyone that when management and the Association work together on issues prior to decisions being made, everyone benefits -- especially our students. FEA is appreciative of Marilee Fitzgerald's support of Pre-Decisional Involvement and her efforts to finally have DoDEA follow the President's Executive Order.
PLAN AHEAD -- The 2011-2012 DoDDS School Year will start on a Tuesday instead of the customary Wednesday. Plan ahead as you make your summer plans.
100 PERCENT -- Congratulations and a very big "thank you" to the staff and association leadership at Illesheim Elementary School for becoming the first school this year to achieve 100 percent FEA membership. What a fantastic achievement! If your school has also reached 100 percent membership, please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com so we can recognize your accomplishment.
TUTOR.COM -- DoDEA recently passed on the following information about a new service, www.tutor.com, which we hope will be of benefit to our members and their students: Tutor.com supports student achievement for children in schools by reinforcing and supplementing classroom learning. Tutor.com is a resource provided by the Department of Defense and available free of charge to U.S. active duty military service members and their dependents, U.S. military reservists on active duty in a deployed status and their dependents, U.S. National Guard personnel on active duty in a deployed status and their dependents, and DoD civilians in a deployed status and their dependents. By registering for the free, online program at http://www.tutor.com/military students and parents have
round-the-clock access to professional tutors who can assist with homework, test preparation, resume writing, and more. The site is open to students of any age ¬-- from kindergartners to high school seniors -- for one-on-one help in math, science, social studies and English. The Tutor.com Military Programs website (http://www.tutor.com/military-programs) has information to help families of each branch of the Armed Forces obtain a password to log-in to the service.
MORE RESOURCES -- The Verizon Foundation has partnered with the National Education Association and other education organizations to create ThinkFinity (www.thinkfinity.org), a free online resource for educators. There you will find lesson plans, student interactives, worksheets, podcasts and more, covering a variety of subjects. Another resource is NEA's Tools and Ideas Web site, available at http://www.nea.org/home/ToolsAndIdeas.html. Here you'll find links to many useful tools, such as NEA's Works4Me teaching tips and discussions, classroom management aides, and access to the new NEA Academy, offering professional development programs.
MORE TRAVEL -- I'm currently in Germany, attending FRS trainings and the Europe Area Council meeting. Later this month and in early October I'll be attending trainings in Japan, Okinawa and Korea and visiting schools. In addition to many of these same meetings, FEA Executive Director/General Counsel H.T. Nguyen will also be attending the FEA Stateside Area Council meeting in Peachtree City at the end of this month.
I hope your school year is off to a great start!