TO: FEA Members and Leaders Worldwide
FROM: Brian Chance, FEA President
RE: FEA President’s Report
DATE: April 1, 2020
The past month has been the most eventful I can recall in my history with DoDEA and FEA. Amazingly, despite all the chaos, uncertainty, upheaval and fear caused by the COVID-19 situation and the rolling closure of all DoDEA schools, FEA members have made sure that student learning has continued.
To be certain, there have been (and will continue to be) a lot of bumps along the way as we all adapt to this new environment. I want to add my gratitude and appreciation — which I know DoDEA families worldwide share — for all you have done in this very stressful and challenging time. Many of you are caring for your own children and families at home while ensuring that DoDEA students continue to have a school environment they can cling to as a source of stability and comfort. The value and importance of what you do every day has always been beyond measure and that has never been more apparent than right now. THANK YOU so much!
I also want to thank the many Association representatives at all levels for their hard work and dedication as they have been working both publicly and often behind the scenes to see that the members they represent, and those members’ rights, are not forgotten in this situation. I have had countless conversations and email chats with Association reps across DoDEA in the past month and the work they are doing on behalf of members is simply amazing. THANK YOU all for being the voice of your coworkers and for being strong advocates for the needs of DoDEA students and families.
The Association always recommends members seek information and assistance at the local level first, but if I can be of assistance to anyone at any time, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I encourage everyone to contact me via email rather than posting a question to Facebook or other public sites in order to protect your personal information and privacy. Email is also something I check much more frequently than Facebook or other media.
The current ban on travel for DOD personnel, including civilian employees and their sponsored dependents, is creating a lot of anxiety and uncertainty for Overseas employees trying to schedule RAT or other travel for this summer, including PCS moves, Ed Travel or a move due to retirement/separation from federal service.
FEA and DoDEA are discussing this issue frequently and are looking into what options might exist and be viable for those Overseas employees this summer, given the ongoing uncertainties about travel caused by COVID-19. We will make an announcement to members whenever we know more about what those options will be. I’m sorry we don’t have more definitive info at this time but the current uncertainty about all things travel related is making an assessment of options very difficult, and none of us want to put out any information that later proves to be inaccurate. We will make sure our members get information as soon as it becomes available.
The National Education Association building in Washington DC, which houses the FEA Washington DC office, will remain closed until at least May 1 due to the COVID-19 situation. Our DC staff continue to work from their homes and are continuing to provide service to members and Association leaders/representatives at all levels. We thank you for your continued patience and understanding in this situation but be assured that, regardless where they work from, FEA staff continue to work in support of our members daily.
The closure of our DC office continues to delay the counting of ballots for the three Area offices up for election this year to the FEA Board of Directors (Pacific Area Director, Europe Area Director, and FEA Director for DDESS). That vote tally was to take place March 25 and 26 but remains on hold for now because of the closing of our office in the NEA building. We will keep members informed once this vote tally is rescheduled.
As longtime Overseas members know, each spring, representatives of FEA and DoDEA meet with staff from the Department of Defense Civilian Personal Advisory Service’s Special Pay Branch to review the data used the compute salaries for DODDS employees. By law, those salaries are based upon the average compensation for employees of school districts throughout the U.S. serving urban areas of at least 100,000 people. FEA has reviewed the preliminary data collected by DOD for those salary calculations and sent questions/corrections we’d like to see made before the figures are finalized. The meeting for all sides to review and finalize the DODDS salary data is tentatively scheduled for late in April. It is not clear at this time whether that meeting may need to be rescheduled, switched to a virtual meeting or adapted in some other way. We will keep members updated about this process as it continues.
April is recognized as the Month of the Military Child in the United States, though of course EVERY month is the Month of the Military Child for DoDEA employees. With all that is going on right now, it’s never been a better time to remind our students how much we love, care for and respect them. At this site there is a good description of why the dandelion was chosen as the flower that represents the military child. militarybratsinc.org
We all continue to look for information and resources to help us deal with the present situation, both professionally and personally. Below are a few links we suggest our members visit. Some free resources are not allowed by DoDEA because of licensing and other legal restrictions, so you should check with your ET and ISS before using any products or tools not provided by DoDEA. We also encourage you to visit FEA’s Facebook page and share your teaching tips, online tools and other advice to help your fellow employees get through this difficult time. As always, our unity is our strength, so let’s share that strength with each other by sharing the things we’ve found helpful in recent weeks.
We Are Teachers has numerous articles and resources about online learning and projects you can have students work on at home.
Thank you again for your continued efforts and I hope you all stay safe and healthy!