FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Brian Chance, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: February 1, 2020
I would like to begin by congratulating and thanking longtime FEA attorney Richard Tarr for taking on the position of Interim Executive Director and General Counsel for FEA, following the retirement of H.T. Nguyen at the end of 2019. Richard has extensive experience working on issues affecting our members. He is currently advising the members of our Overseas bargaining team as they work through the mediation process (read about that at feaonline.org/overseascontract.htm). Richard spent two decades working with H.T., so his accepting this interim appointment provides a lot of continuity in this very turbulent time. Congratulations Richard!
I continue to forward information from FEA members to DoDEA headquarters about ongoing problems with RAT/ED voucher reimbursements and also follow up with appropriate DoDEA personnel. A number of members' issues have been resolved in recent months. I want to thank Director Brady and his staff for recognizing the challenges that educators faced when vouchers languished for months. They have been responsive to FEA's continued efforts to have the issue addressed. After many emails to Mr. Brady, Richard Tarr, Interim Executive Director/General Counsel for FEA, and I were invited to meet with Mr. Brady and the DoDEA leadership responsible for processing vouchers. DoDEA is now brainstorming ways to improve the processing of these voucher payments. It is a positive step that DoDEA recognizes changes are necessary. Let's hope whatever changes are made result in faster and more accurate processing in the future.
A bipartisan group of 19 Senators and Representatives recently sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, expressing concern over "ongoing turmoil" within DoDEA that is placing added stress on service members and their families. Specifically, the letter cited DoDEA's decision to increase PTR at middle and high schools, resulting in around 200 teaching positions being eliminated since last school year, and also DDESS's requirement that educators in Stateside schools work 24 unpaid hours beyond the duty day each quarter. The letter pointed out that policies such as these will make it harder for DoDEA to continue recruiting and retaining top-flight educators. It also cited the added stress these policies are placing on DoDEA employees who are military spouses and, by extension, the unnecessary stress and anxiety placed on active military personnel with children and/or spouses in DoDEA. These are issues the Association has been raising for some time and we were happy to see the letter from Congress and its request that the Secretary take steps to reverse these troubling policies. You can read the full letter from those members of Congress to Secretary Esper here.
OVERSEAS EXCESS PLACEMENTS
The placing of Overseas Excess employees within their districts has been concluded. The process will now move on to Worldwide placements, which will begin February 5 at DoDEA Headquarters. I will be in attendance at those placements sessions to monitor the process. Notifications of placements are still expected to begin going out around February 10. The entire Excess Placement Process for FEA Overseas members, as published by DoDEA, can be viewed here.
MEMBERS' WELL BEING
Our members in Asia are already on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak, though members everywhere are increasingly being affected by the need to take precautions and protect themselves against the virus. Please be vigilant and follow the medical advice designed to minimize the risk of being exposed to or contracting this virus. No cases of coronavirus have been reported, that I'm aware of, among DoDEA students or staff. DoDEA has posted information on its site about the virus, including steps you can take to help avoid infection. I encourage you to view that information here.
February is Black History Month. NEA has a variety of classroom lessons and resources available here.