October 1, 2016 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: October 1, 2016
TRAVELS SO FAR
As I write this, I have almost completed my fall travels. After spending time with members and leaders in Germany, I traveled to England with NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia. Lily visited Feltwell ES, and got a chance to speak with our members and to see first hand the amazing work they do in their classrooms. This was a great opportunity for Lily to hear directly from our members about the challenges they face, including many stories of pay problems.
We also had a great turnout at our Association Day, where Lily was the keynote speaker. As always, she was passionate, funny, and articulate in her advocacy for public schools around the world. FEA is lucky to have the support of Lily and the NEA. We were also fortunate to have the President-Elect of the National Union of Teachers, the UK's largest teachers' union join us for the day.
From England, I traveled to Korea, where I was able to visit with members in Osan, Seoul and Camp Humphreys before HT and I took part in the Korea FRS Training. Members in Korea spoke very clearly about the need for a fully funded transfer program.
From there we traveled to Okinawa for the AEAO FRS Training as well as the AEAO General Membership Meeting where Pacific UniServ Michael Bauerfeind, who will be retiring at the end of this school year, was honored. It was great to get a chance to speak with the large number of members who turned out for this event. Again, many members spoke of the importance of a robust transfer program in order to recruit and retain employees.
As this message goes out, we are now in Tokyo speaking with NEATA leaders. I will return to the US on October 2. Trips like this and the discussions I have had with members around the world help me to advocate for issues that are important to our members. Many thanks to all the local leaders who have helped facilitate my visits. It has been hard to keep up with emails and messages as I have been traveling. Please be patient if I have not responded, and send me a gentle reminder if necessary!
HR ISSUES CONTINUE
Among the first concerns I have heard as I started my travels in Germany were concerns about vacant HR positions or unresponsive, unsupportive HR employees. One result of ongoing HR issues is that we are once again starting school with unfilled teacher, ESP, and substitute positions in our schools. We have made DoDEA aware of these concerns and FEA will continue to advocate for a fully functional HR department to provide the needed support to our educators.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
We have been a "standards based" system for many years, and are now in the process of implementing new standards. When I have spoken to teachers across the system, the problems they are facing are not due to the new standards, but rather with the implementation of those standards. Now, in addition to poor training and the initially poor materials, we have principals who are expecting "standardized" instruction…that every teacher in a grade level will be on the same material on the same day. This defies everything we know as educators about good, responsive, differentiated instruction. Teaching to standards does NOT mean standardized, lock step instruction.
HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
September 15-October 15 is designated as National Hispanic Heritage Month. You can find information and resources to use in your classroom by visiting NEA's page onHispanic Heritage Month.
The open season for FEGLI life insurance concluded on September 30. The FEHB (Federal Employees Health Benefits) open season will begin November 14 and run until December 12, 2016. Visit www.opm.gov for more information on FEHB open season.
HCR NEWSLETTER NOW AVAILABLE
The FEA Human & Civil Rights Program has posted its first newsletter of the new school year. Check out the September issue of "The Advocate" here.
FEA members are understandably concerned about the increasing threat the Zika virus poses to themselves and to their students. OPM recently issued a memorandum (see link below) regarding Human Resources Flexibilities and Authorities for Federal Employees Affected by the Zika Virus.
The memo also included three attachments from OPM, EEOC and OSHA:
Attachment 1 -- OPM Guidance on Workplace Flexibilities and Authorities for Dealing with the Zika Virus
Attachment 2 -- EEOC: The EEO Laws for Employees Affected by the Zika Virus Attachment 3 -- OSHA Zika Job Hazard Analysis for Federal Agencies
The three attachments are posted on the bottom of the memorandum, which is available at https://www.chcoc.gov/content/human-resources-flexibilities-and-authorities-federal-employees-affected-zika-virus
Nominations for the FEA Area Director positions in Europe, the Pacific and Stateside remain open. The deadline for nominations to be RECEIVED is October 14, 2016. Any Active Member of FEA may nominate themself or another Active Member, provided that member meets the qualifications for office. Learn more and obtain nomination forms by going to http://feaonline.org/election.htm. Nomination forms and information were also sent to all FRSs/building reps. Voting will take place later this school year.