February 1, 2011 FEA Stateside ReportFebruary 2011
Spending Reduction Act: The question is on everyone's minds about the impact of the Spending Reduction Act. HT Nguyen, our FEA Executive Director/General Counsel is working very closely with NEA and others to address the concerns of all of our members. As information becomes available, we will continue to keep our members informed.
Federal Pay Freeze: The concern has also been raised about the federal pay freeze. Again, HT is helping us maneuver through the wording of the documents to determine the impact on our members
Retirement: Members continue to express dissatisfaction with customer service and obtaining timely information in order to make a decision about retirement. I have contacted Dr. Jeter about our concerns and await his response. There are also problems with retirees receiving their annuities in a timely manner. This unfortunately seems to be a problem out of OPM (Office of Personnel Management). I have notified Ms. Marilee Fitzgerald, acting DODEA Director and she is aware of the problem. OPM has openly admitted to having a serious backlog. Retirees are waiting more than 6 months for their full annuity checks; therefore if you do not have the savings, or other source of income to hold you for that period of time, I would seriously consider evaluating the date you set for your retirement.
Performance Appraisal Working Group: The workgroup is underway revising the wording in the DDESS professional educators' performance appraisals. Because of the limited time available, the task is to simply adjust the wording to make the standards more measurable in time for the start of SY 2011-2012. Do not expect major changes to the elements or standards. Once completed, the Association will be provided the opportunity to bargain the impact and the implementation of any changes, and training will be conducted prior to the start of the new school year for all educators and supervisors.
MOUs Signed: During the January meeting at DODEA headquarters, seven MOUs were signed. One of those MOUs was signed in order to address the concern regarding the amount of time and work required for the Advanced ED process in the schools. As a result of that MOU, a survey is currently being developed by DODEA HQ, with input and feedback from all three Associations -- FEA-DODDS, FEA-DDESS and OFT -- to assess the impact of the requirements. Please contact your local Association leaders about the other MOUs which include materials implementation for the following: Chinese, PreK -- 12 Math, and PreK - 6 Social Studies.
CSI/AdvancEd: On January 19th Lola Downs, local president at Ft. Rucker, Dorothy Lee and I met with Dr. Jeter, Dr. Curtis and Theresa Barba (ISS at PTC who oversees the CSI process for DDESS schools). We were very clear about the impact of the work required in support of the schools' CSI. While teachers comprise the CSI committees, these committees cannot assign work. They provide recommendations to the school administrator who then determines whether to accept and endorse those recommendations. Unfortunately this is where the teacher input stops. Because the Agency has refused to bargain the impact and the implementation of any new requirements -- locally as well as at the Area office - FEASR has been forced to file ULPs (Unfair Labor Practices) at all levels. In the meantime, however, teachers continue to suffer under the ever-increasing burden of new work requirements without anything being taken off of the proverbial plate. Teachers are spending more time on meaningless tasks than they spend actually implementing the plan in an effort affect highest student achievement. In an effort to address this, Dr. Jeter and I are attempting to come to an agreement in how to proceed in order for teachers to have the time, the training and the materials to truly ensure the CSI process supports teachers in their efforts. I forwarded my thoughts for consideration to Dr. Jeter on January 21st and am awaiting his response.
February HQ Meeting: We are scheduled to sit at the tale once again at DODEA HQ to continue talks about such topics as the pilot program for the updated automation of the Information Centers as well as the new criteria for selection for teacher leaders and teachers for the Summer Enrichment program. In the past SCD was used to determine selection; however, DODEA HQ has put FEASR on notice that SCD will no longer be the determination for selection.
MLA Negotiations: MLA negotiations are scheduled to continue the first two weeks of May. As you know, we are not able to disclose what is discussed during those negotiation; however rest assured we have a great team!
FEASR Area Council: The spring AC is scheduled for the first weekend in March at Myrtle Beach. The Friday session will be a joint training with DDESS Agency officials and FEASR district leaders on pre decisional involvement (PDI) as outlined by the Executive order signed by President Obama in December of 2009. The Saturday session will be for internal Association business and any interested members wishing to attend are asked to notify their local president to ensure we have enough room for attendees.
I don't know where January went, but it was a snowy, cold and blustery one in many places with schools facing delayed starts and cancellations. The trend appears to be continuing. Stay safe, stay warm, stay doing the great things you do every day for kids!
Mrs. Terry Arvidson
FEA Director for DDESS