September 26, 2019 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Brian Chance, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: September 26, 2019
It's been a busy month. I was in Europe the first half of September, attending leadership trainings and conducting school visits. A particular highlight was accompanying NEA Vice President Becky Pringle as she visited with FEA members in Belgium. Thanks so much, Becky!
I returned to the States mid-month to attend the Saturday session of the Stateside Area Council Meeting. It is always so valuable to meet with the leaders of our Stateside schools and to hear directly about the many unfair and illegal attacks Stateside members are enduring now, as well as discuss with FEA-Stateside how FEA's DC office staff can best assist them and our Stateside members.
Following that meeting, I departed for more leadership trainings and school visits in FEA's Pacific Area, where I am currently.
My sincere thanks to the many people who planned and helped to arrange my visits to these many locales, and to all the FEA members and leaders who have met with me in the past few weeks to share your concerns and priorities.
OVERSEAS CONTRACT BARGAINING
As explained in the update sent out earlier this week to members in Europe and the Pacific, bargaining of a new contract for Overseas bargaining unit members has been going on the past few weeks with FEA members present for face-to-face bargaining. DoDEA continues to press for Overseas contract provisions that range from unfair to outright illegal, confident in its belief the FSIP will continue in its trend of giving government agencies anything they want in contract language. It unfortunately seems that DoDEA management does not care how much damage it does to the learning environment or employee morale: its only priority is asserting the unchecked power currently being granted to federal agencies by bodies such as the Federal Labor Relations Authority and Federal Service Impasses Panel. Please see the update at our Overseas Contract Bargaining page as well as other background on the Overseas contract bargaining process.
Of course, our Stateside members are already thoroughly familiar with DoDEA's harmful actions. Earlier this month, FEA-Stateside General Counsel Ben Hunter presented a case to a neutral arbitrator, alleging that DoDEA has illegally and unilaterally implemented an unsigned contract on the FEA-Stateside Certified bargaining unit. You can read the update about the hearing by going to this page.
LETTER OF CONCERN
FEA is very grateful to a bipartisan group of lawmakers who recently wrote to DoDEA Director Tom Brady and his boss at the Pentagon, Acting Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness James Stewart, voicing their concerns about DoDEA actions and policies. In particular, the lawmakers raised concerns about the additional 24 unpaid hours each quarter employees in Stateside schools are being made to work and also about DoDEA's recent decision to unnecessarily and harmfully increase the Pupil-Teacher Ratio in middle and high schools and eliminate many popular class offerings as a result. You can read about and find a copy of the letter sent by going to this page.
LOSS OF FUNDING
Backlash to the idea of redirecting Congressionally-appropriated funds for repairing/replacing multiple DoDEA schools Overseas and Stateside has been growing. Our own FEA Director for DDESS, Jane Loggins, was invited to speak about the issue on CNN and Headline News and did a great job voicing the impact of these funding cuts upon DoDEA students and families. Great job Jane! Also this week, a retired Association member and leader from Mahaffey Middle School at Fort Campbell, James "JC" Kellar, was invited to Washington DC to share his views of the cuts during a press conference on Capitol Hill. We are extremely grateful to Mr. Kellar for coming to DC and speaking out for his former co-workers and their students. Regardless anyone's views about the politics of this situation, I hope all FEA members, both Active and Retired, can agree that DoDEA students and the schools they need should not be used as pawns.
National Hispanic Heritage Month began September 15 and runs until October 15. You can find information and resources for teaching about this event by going to this page on the NEA web site.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Finally, I want to extend a big "congratulations" to FEA Member Patricia Hannon at Hohenfels Elementary School. Patricia is one of just five winners of this year's Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence and, as such, she is a finalist for the NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence. FEA and all state affiliates of NEA are allowed to nominate one outstanding educator each year for consideration in this competition. We have had a number of outstanding nominees over the years but this is the first time that an FEA member and DoDEA educator has ever advanced to the top 5 and become a finalist for the "big prize". Congratulations Patricia and thank you for being such an outstanding representative of your fellow Association members. Good luck as you await the announcement of the grand prize winner at the NEA Foundation Awards Gala in February, 2020! We're all rooting for you!
Yours in solidarity,