October 2011 FEA Stateside UpdateDr. Miles Fired: The word just came out as I was writing this newsletter that Dr. Miles has indeed been fired. http://www.stripes.com/news/former-dodea-chief-miles-fired-by-dod-after-investigation-confirms-misconduct-1.157496# We hope that DODEA can put this behind and move forward to concentrate on what's right for our schools and our students. In the meantime Ms. Fitzgerald will continue as Acting DODEA Director and Dr. Nancy Bresell is tapped to continue beyond the originally-planned 90 days as the #2 at DODEA HQ as a result of the recent announcement by Ms. Diana Ohman, Pacific Area Director, to leave DODEA in November for a position in the Veteran's Administration.
School Visits: During the past month, Dorothy Lee and I have continued visits and training to schools in the Ft. Stewart/South Carolina district (Ft. Jackson, Laurel Bay and Ft. Stewart) as well as the North Carolina district (Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejeune). Time and again we are hearing the same concerns from our colleagues -- too many requirements and not enough time -- the plate is FULL! We are very concerned that our members are not voicing their issues to the local Association so we can quickly address them. Elected leaders at all levels meet regularly with their Agency counterparts -- building reps with building administrator and local president with local superintendent. If you have concerns, especially about new work requirements, please put those in writing to your elected Association representative. We cannot help if we do not know.
Lesson Plans: I had a meeting with Dr. Curtis prior to visiting and training at Ft. Bragg. Grace Merkle, the local president at Bragg, sat in on the meeting along with Dr. Emily Marsh, the NC superintendent. Minutes of that meeting will be forwarded to the local presidents for distribution. Lesson plans requirements were one topic of discussion. Dr. Curtis was very reasonable in her thinking that that lesson plans are to guide the teachers' teaching and should have what the teacher is going teach (the objective of the lesson), how they will teach it, what materials may be used and how the learning would be assessed. If you are spending hours doing detailed lesson plans, please speak with your local Association leader. At this time there is no requirement for ‘differentiation of instruction' -- this initiative out of DODEA HQ is still in the formative stages for teachers to undergo training and practice the principles without fear of negative performance evaluations. The MOU signed at the end of August this year clearly states:
The Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) and the Federal Education Association-Stateside Region (FEA-SR), hereafter referred to as the "parties," hereby agree to the following concerning the implementation of Differentiated Instruction (DI) -- A Touchstone for Responsive and Inclusive Teaching. The focus of the skill-building year is to build a common language and understanding of DI with an expectation that teachers develop their skills by practicing the DI process and strategies with opportunities for feedback and support in a collaborative non-evaluative environment.
Area Council: Our fall Area Council (the board of directors for DDESS) was held at the Peachtree City Area Service Center on Friday and Saturday, September 23 and 24. Local presidents and guests met to discuss issues and concerns as well as to receive training on how to deal with those issues as your representatives. Evan Eslinger from NEA Membership provided a very powerful message to all of us about the importance of unity in our organization in these days when we are prone to attacks. If you want to watch how unity can work, go to ‘YouTube' and search for the video ‘Battle at Kruger'. Select the video that is 8:24 seconds and "just featured on NBC's Dateline". (For those of you who are animal lovers, at about 2:30 seconds into the video you will wonder about my thinking - I promise it ends well.) Once you fear the worst, fast forward to about 4:30 seconds. If you don't ‘get it', you don't get it. Thanks Evan for such a strong message!
K-3 Reading Assessment: Now that the training is completed and teachers are using the new assessment, it is important for teachers to let their local Association rep know ‘how it's going'. The MOU was signed for this year's use only and will be re-visited in the spring. There should be no questions about teachers getting the release time to complete the assessment for all of their students. We need your feedback!
AdvEd: Please let your local representative know if you have concerns about new work requirements… to include those as a result of AdvEd pre-QAR and QAR visits. While the Agency does have the right to assign work, we have the right to bargain the impact of that work and its implementation in order to be successful. Please see the signed agreement below about possible requirements as a result AdvEd.
Creative Curriculum (PreK): Although materials may be arriving in the schools, there is no MOU on the required use of these materials. We anticipate that during out next visit to DODEA HQ this will be a topic of discussion. If you have specific comments or concerns, please feel free to send them directly to me at email@example.com and copy your local president.
First Grade in a Box: This is another topic for upcoming discussions planned at the end of October at the Peachtree City level to avoid the debacle that occurred with the delivery and set up of ‘Kinder in a Box'.
Mediations, I&I Bargaining and Contract Negotiations: We are scheduled for mediation of grievances and I&I bargaining during the last week of October and the first few days of November. Contract negotiations are to be re-scheduled. No firm date has been set.
NEA Foundation's Excellence in Education Award: Wendy Woodworth, the local president for the Camp Lejeune certified staff, is the FEA 2011 nominee for the NEA Foundation award. Each state is allowed to submit one nominee to the NEA Foundation and we are so proud that Wendy was our chosen nominee. Anyone who knows Wendy understands her passion for teaching and for her students, as well as her commitment in her position in the Association.
Wendy's information was forwarded to the NEA Foundation for consideration and she was competing against the official nominees from other NEA state affiliates. Although he was not the NEA selectee, as our state nominee she is invited to attend the NEA Foundation gala scheduled for February in Washington, DC.