January 14, 2017, FEA President's ReportTO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: January 14, 2017
TRANSFERS AND VACANCIES
The deadline for submitting an application to the SY 17-18 DODDS Transfer Program was January 11. Those of you who did apply now have until 5pm EST on January 18, 2017, to make amendments to your application. The transfer round is slated to begin on January 23.
FRSs are asked to check the Transfer Program vacancy list to be sure all known vacancies at your schools are reported. Please notify Connie Shanaghan (via e-mail) of any missing or incorrect vacancies. Only full-time vacancies are used in the transfer program.
FEA wishes to thank our leaders who have worked so hard to help us in our effort to make the vacancy list complete. The accuracy of the vacancy list is critical to the success of the transfer program.
FEA's Connie Shanaghan has posted a list of frequently asked questions about the transfer program, available at FEA's Transfer Information Page.
Once again, we have received late news of a school closure. Educators at CT Joy (Korea) were recently informed that their school will close at the end of SY 16-17. FEA has worked at every level to ensure that those educators impacted by this closure are considered for their District Placements as well as the Transfer Round.
Our legal staff sent out a legal update recently addressing a number of current issues. That update is available at this page. We are aware that many members are concerned about the proposed new evaluation system for Federal Employees (New Beginnings). FEA believes that we currently have evaluation systems in place for both DoDDS and DDESS and that any new performance appraisal system put in place must be bargained rather than imposed.
If you are not on our mailing list for updates like this, please go to feaonline.org/listserv.htm sign up for updates from our office.
Over the winter break, the December issue of the FEA Journal was mailed to members. If you have not received it, send an email to FEAAdmin@nea.org. The Journal is also available to view on the FEA website.
We have received information that DoDEA is now planning differentiated training for a variety of educators this winter. We have been advocating for more differentiation of training and stressing that one-size training does NOT fit all, so we are hopeful that these trainings for counselors, specialists, etc. will be relevant and useful. We continue to ask that ALL professional development include an opportunity for educators to give evaluation feedback on the relevancy, usefulness and effectiveness of trainings.
FEA is aware that DoDEA recently issued "guidance" on Collaboration and PLC's. Unfortunately, this was clearly written by people out of touch with the realities of our schools and the already overwhelming demands on our time. While FEA has been told that this is "guidance" and not a regulation, we know how overzealous administrators will turn this into another checklist to mark off that their school is doing EVERYTHING on it. It is FEA's position that collaboration is positive only when it is organic and stems from the needs of teachers and students and not from a HQ directive AND when time is provided for it that does not come out of teachers' preexisting planning time or cause yet another after school meeting.
There are mentions of "Teacher Voice and Engagement" as well "risk-taking environments" but there is no indication that DoDEA actually supports those concepts. Further, the expectations set in this document are not realistic or reasonable in the 45 minutes a week that most schools have been able to set aside for this initiative. Once again, people in HQ who have not taught in years have come up with MORE for teachers to do.
FEA and FEA-SR are considering legal actions through the grievance/arbitration process to challenge this "mandated/forced" collaboration, a burdensome (and time-consuming) initiative with no demonstrable benefits to students.
So far, Bill Freeman reports approximately 190 of those waiting on MA+ payments have actually been paid, averaging over $35,000 per grievant. This would not have happened had it not been for Bill's successful litigation of this case. While it is frustrating for those who are still waiting, please be aware that FEA is not the reason for the delay. DoDEA needs to devote more resources and staffing to paying those who are owed in this case and fixing the myriad of other pay issues that plague DoDEA educators.
NEA GLOBAL LEARNING FELLOWSHIP
The NEA Foundation recognizes that in order for students to prepare for the global age, the educator must first be equipped with the knowledge, skills and disposition needed to teach in the global age. By participating in the Global Learning Fellowship program, educators have an opportunity to lead the profession by acquiring the necessary skills to integrate global competence into their daily classroom instruction, advance pedagogy in their school/district, prepare students to thrive in the flattened global age, and thus contribute to the closing of the global achievement gap. For more information go to the NEA Foundation's info page. The deadline to apply is February 28, 2017.
READ ACROSS AMERICA
Recently, NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia and DoDEA Director Tom Brady recorded a Public Service Announcement promoting NEA's Read Across America in DoDEA schools. FEA would like to thank both of these leaders for taking the time to support and promote this great event. For our members overseas, be on the lookout for this PSA on your AFN station. March 2nd, the traditional day for this annual celebration of the joy of reading, is coming up soon. This is a great opportunity to connect with your parents and community leaders in fun ways to promote literacy and a lifelong love of reading. For more ideas go to NEA's Read Across America info page.
ATTACKS ON FEDERAL WORKERS
The FEA Legal Update referenced above (available here) included information on the Holman Rule, which was recently approved by the newly sworn-in House of Representatives and would allow any member of Congress to target the pay of any individual federal employee or the funding of any federal agency.
In addition, the House is also considering a law, ironically entitled the "Promote Accountability and Government Efficiency (PAGE) Act", that would make any newly hired federal employee an "at will" employee who could be fired at any time, for any reason (or for no reason at all, according to the member of Congress who introduced the bill), with no chance of appeal. Clearly, such a step would amount to a return to the politically-driven, crony-filled "spoils" system that ran rampant in government prior to the introduction of meaningful civil service laws over a century ago. It is not hard to imagine how inefficient and ineffective any government agency would be if its employees are afraid to point out problems and potential illegalities with the policies they are ordered to carry out, all because they could immediately be fired for speaking out.
FEA, NEA and anyone with a desire to see the federal workforce remain non-politicized will be fighting to prevent laws like this one from being enacted. Sadly, this seems to be an indication of the type of treatment we can expect as federal workers in the coming years. We are under attack, but together we will stand strong!
Finally, as we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend, I encourage all our members to visit NEA's page of classroom resources on Dr. King, available at this page. His teachings and example are as valuable to us today as they were during his lifetime.