September 11 2009 FEA Stateside Report

by Terry Arvidson, FEA Director for Stateside
Dear Colleagues,

With all of our schools are now in session, we are off to a very busy start! We are currently addressing recent directives issued from DODEA HQ (changes to Gifted Ed service and also a Classroom Safety Checklist for PTS educators). While we are questioning the development of these recent requirements in hopes of having them rescinded, we are also poised to request they be held in abeyance pending completion of I & I bargaining. Other items being addressed:

Electronic Gradebook Policy System (Grades 4 -12): A notice of intent to file a ULP has been forwarded to DODEA HQ in response to the Gradespeed Electronic Gradebook policy issued on August 25th. In conjunction with that notice, we have expressed a desire to the Agency to return to the table and continue discussions to minimize the impact of the Gradespeed requirements on teachers' valuable time. The ‘one-size-fits-all with this policy is not a sound approach to a very important aspect of the education of our students.

DODEA Restructuring: The impact of the restructuring has been felt by the Support Professionals in DDESS. Clerical positions were lost and the subsequent shifting of duties to those who remain has been a problem, especially with the lack of up to date position descriptions. We are still unclear as to the role of the Resource Managers scheduled to be hired in schools with an enrollment of 250 or more students. We have met and trained with the ESP leaders at Ft. Knox and have heard their concerns. We are scheduled to meet and train the leaders at Ft. Campbell (September 22) and Camp Lejeune September 30/October 1.

Kentucky Certification: While at PTC in August to discuss the reorganization, we were told that those who are currently in ISS positions at the DSO will no longer be required to have administrative credentials; however they will need to be certified in the Instructional Support area they oversee for the district. We were told those educators would be given two years to get the required certification. While at HQ in Arlington a week later we raised the certification question again for our educators in the Kentucky district who were only being given one year to complete certification requirements. After discussion, there was an understanding that the same opportunity (two years to become certified) will be provided to the Kentucky educators. They will have until the end of SY 2010-2011 (if showing reasonable progress at the end of SY 2009-2010) towards completing the certification requirements for their current teaching area.

Revised Standards: While we are pleased to see that HQ has authorized a half day release for our Kindergarten teachers to review the new materials for ELA, we are working on the lack of communication regarding the revised standards, and the expectations for their use. It was our understanding that administrators were to review the revised standards with the teachers and allow teachers to gradually phase the new standards into their teaching. I have contacted DODEA HQ about this concern and am scheduled for a discussion with Marc Mossberg, the Curriculum Chief for DODEA.

What the Association Does for You: The Association is working at all levels to address the concerns of our bargaining unit members. At the school/building level, your building representative is encouraged to meet regularly with administration to discuss and resolve those concerns. Ideally, minutes from meetings should be posted so everyone is aware of where we are on the issues. Those issues not resolved at the building level should be elevated to the local president who also is encouraged to establish a regular meeting schedule with the DSO contact, and to also post the outcome of decisions from those meetings. Issues that impact more than one district are elevated to the regional level where discussion occurs at PTC and/or DODEA HQ. Do not assume your representatives know it all! Please put all concerns in writing to your representative, giving them as much detail possible, to include what may be a resolution for the situation. We cannot help you if we do not know.

For those who heard President Obama's talk to students yesterday, there was one thing that rings true for all of us: "The story of America isn't about people who quit when things got tough. It's about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best."

With the changes we are facing under the DODEA restructuring, the anxiety of the administrators that is being passed on to us, we need, more than ever, to hang tough as an organization of professional, caring educators. You are each important to the success of our children. Dorothy and I look forward to seeing you as we continue our visits to the districts.