October 1 2017 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members and Leaders Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: October 1, 2017
SUB AND STAFFING ISSUES
In some of our schools and complexes, the issue of unfilled teacher and paraprofessional positions along with the lack of substitutes has reached a crisis point. Small group specialists are being used as substitutes for SPED paras, classes are being divided and students "farmed out" to other teachers, and teachers are being told "don't get sick; we don't have any subs!" FEA continues to share these concerns at ALL levels of DoDEA but so far, management does not seem to be able to make any progress on it.
In many of our schools, IT issues are adding to the frustration teachers are feeling. Vacant AT positions, the implementation of Windows 10, new facilities, etc. have all added to these concerns. The lack of access to reliable technology negatively impacts our educators' ability to teach and our students' opportunities to learn. FEA will continue to push DoDEA to resolve these issues quickly.
As we have reported to you previously, DoDEA has issued a memorandum stating that substitute coverage will no longer be provided to support instruction during BAS assessments after October 16, 2017. FEA has clearly shared our concerns about this decision but once again, DoDEA is refusing to listen to those who actually work with students every day. Does anyone really believe that a teacher can accurately assess one student while monitoring 18 or more other students? This misguided decision will lessen both the quality of instruction and the validity of the assessment and is clearly based on budget considerations and not what is best for students.
As this Update goes out, I am nearing the end of my "Round the World" travels. I am currently in Japan, having visited Seoul and Okinawa. During the Pacific portion of this trip I have been able to attend Joint Labor Management Training sessions in each location. This is a great example of cooperation and a good opportunity for principals and FEA reps to work and learn together. I have also been able to attend the FRS training in each area and again want to thank the dedicated professionals who step up to be FRS's and FR's in their schools. Your work makes our schools better places for educators to work AND for students to learn.
Many thanks go to all the local reps who have helped to make my travel so pleasant and productive. In addition to meetings and FRS trainings I have been able to attend local meetings and speak with countless members. The information I have gathered is invaluable to our work with DoDEA HQ.
Later this month, I will be visiting our schools at Quantico as well as attending the Stateside Area Council in Nashville. As always, I look forward to hearing directly from our Stateside members and leaders about the issues concerning them and how FEA can assist.
As I have traveled this fall, educators continue to tell me about the poor quality of the professional development provided by DoDEA through outside contracts. Please continue to voice your opinion by filling out any evaluation provided. If none is provided or if you don't feel the evaluation tool provided allows for honest feedback, please send your feedback to your Association Reps to forward up the chain. FEA will continue to advocate for better, more relevant and useful training. Our educators and our students deserve better.
NEA MEMBER BENEFITS
One of the great benefits of NEA membership is the NEA Member Benefits (NEA-MB) program. During the month of October, Michael Gavin, our NEA-MB representative will be traveling in the Pacific, giving briefings in the following locations during these dates. For more specific details and information, please contact your local leadership:
Guam -- October 12-14
Korea -- October 18-19
Okinawa -- October 19-21
Japan -- October 23-28
You can also find out more about Member Benefits by going to www.neamb.com.
One of the best known -- but not always clearly understood -- benefits of membership in FEA/NEA is the Educators Employment Liability (EEL) Program, better known to most members simply as the liability insurance program.
This coverage is provided as a part of membership for all Active, Life Active, Substitute, Student and Retired members of the Association. The program is totally dues-funded, meaning Association members pay no extra fee for this coverage. It is designed to protect Association members -- whether teachers or support personnel -- from personal financial liability for most incidents arising out of their educational employment activities or duties. That last point is important: the coverage only applies to incidents in which you are performing your educational employment activities -- it does not cover incidents arising from your personal life.
Among the benefits provided by this coverage are:
• payment of legal defense costs up to $3 million per occurrence in defending civil proceedings (other than proceedings concerning Civil Rights)
• payment of up to $1 million in damages assessed against you as a result of such civil proceedings
• payment of up to $300,000 worth of defense, settlement or judgments and other supplementary payments for proceedings concerning Civil Rights
Among other additional benefits, the policy provides up to $35,000 reimbursement for attorney fees and other legal costs if you are charged with violating a criminal statute in what otherwise would be within the course and scope of your educational employment activities, and you are exonerated of all charges by a court of law or all charges are withdrawn or dismissed.
An important thing to understand is that the EEL coverage is an "occurrence policy", meaning it is linked to when the occurrence took place. This means that you must be an Association member at the time the alleged incident occurred in order for the policy to apply to you and to potentially cover that incident.
You can learn more about this fantastic benefit of membership by going to NEA's EEL Insurance page. Brochures on the EEL program were also sent to your FRS/building rep at the start of the school year.
Once again, our thoughts and prayers are with those who are suffering from the effects of this season's terrible storms.
The clean up in Texas from Hurricane Harvey continues and you can donate to help those in need there by going to this page.
In Florida, Hurricane Irma has impacted thousands of members of the Florida Education Association (the OTHER FEA), as well as countless public schools across the state. To help support those in need go to www.feaweb.org and click on the donate button.
Just after Irma, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico leaving millions of Americans without food, water, electricity or fuel. At last word, all DoDEA schools at Fort Buchanan and USCG Air Station Borinquen (Ramey) will remain closed through Friday, October 13 2017. Please check the DoDEA website for further updates on our schools there. The destruction, of course, extends to all parts of the island and the amount of aid needed there is massive. If you would like to donate to relief efforts in Puerto Rico, there are numerous agencies assisting in these efforts. NEA is supporting the AFT in their efforts there. For more information, go to this page.