Stop anti-labor policies in Department of Defense schools

Two years ago, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA)—the school system for the children of our military personnel—began requiring stateside educators represented by the Federal Education Association, an NEA affiliate, to devote 24 additional, unpaid hours per quarter to busy work that hinders their ability to prepare for instruction and attend to students.

On average, teachers already spend 17-plus hours per week outside the duty day preparing for instruction and grading assignments. In January 2020, an impartial arbitrator found DoDEA acted illegally by unilaterally implementing the additional uncompensated hours. However, DoDEA, which implemented the requirement under the guise of “professional development,” has refused to comply with the arbitrator’s ruling. Instead, DoDEA has delayed implementation by appealing the decision to the Federal Labor Relations Authority.

Recently, DoDEA announced that in its Southeast District, the unfunded additional hours will extend the duty day by an hour twice a week. This will create additional hardships for educators who already lack time to complete their duties without sacrificing time with their own children, forgoing medical appointments, and abandoning personal commitments. Many of these educators are military spouses as well as veterans who have already sacrificed much and not be expected to further upend their private lives. They are exhausted from trying to balance their personal and workplace obligations, arrange for before- and after-care for their children, adult daycare for parents, and are stressed to the point of breaking—all of which is massively detrimental to their students’ learning and extracurricular environments.

Email your members of Congress and ask them to intervene, hold DoDEA accountable, and end these anti-labor practices.

11 responses to “Stop anti-labor policies in Department of Defense schools

  1. This is the old “Do more with less” syndrome. Once again, DoDEA’s Admirals are all patting themselves on the back and saying how great they are. What administrator wants to be part of this bad news? The present state of morale in DoDEA is at an all time low. Having to work an extra two hrs. during the week w/ no additional compensation is another kick in the gut at the expense of teachers. Professional development? A waste of time, especially for non core teachers. Additional work after school means less time to work out, less time to run errands, less time to help kids w/ their homework. Administrators and teachers should expect some sort of compromise. Consider two hrs. of comp time during the week.
    We were lied to about the transfer program. Now it’s gone. DoDEA continues to break faith and erode teacher benefits creating mistrust and anxiety towards leadership. Working extra w/ no pay? The First Lady is (was) a teacher. What would she think?

  2. For some reason, non-teaching decision makers, people who have not spent more than 20 minutes in a classroom in years, tend to think teachers lack enough to do. They are wrong. Most of your teachers are already spending evenings and weekends doing the work of teaching, unpaid. Look around the world, America: we have more instructional hours in a week than most of the world (including Japan, with their 6 day week). Students lack moments in the day to process ; every minute at school is meant to be filled with instruction. Now you want the teachers to have the same- drudgery of canned PD with no processing time, no break in the day. We are not building capacity, we’re tearing down morale and expertise.
    DoDEA was once an organization that did engage and inspire students ( and teachers)., resulting in top-notch education. We are not that organization any more. Where is the data showing that the changes, the rigor without relationships and relevance, is working? Kids need more recess, more electives, more opportunity to be independent and creative learners, and teachers need more time for unstructured interaction with colleagues, more opportunity to be creative educators and mentors.

  3. I’m not sure how they actually thought this could be legal. When the contracts were signed that should have been it. Now to add all of these extra hours, “professional development “ is wrong. What happened to fair employment. Question, does the DODEA higher ups, officers and office employees have to work these extra hours with no pay? I doubt it.
    It is really hard on the teachers with small children to make these extra unpaid an often unappreciated hours. It is time to make it right!!!!

  4. This is an attempt on the part of DOD to have busywork take the place of any meaningful professional development and speaks to the problem of having non educators making policy decisions for DODEA. Teachers are being devalued on a daily basis.

  5. So, out of curiosity, I got a form letter response back from Lindsey Graham’s office. Why is he responding about the NIH rather than what this petition is supposed to deliver to him?

  6. Under gerrymandered Republican control of all 3 branches of government in Wisconsin, a bill was passed that essentially voided union teaching contracts and forbade negotiations on hours, benefits and other employment conditions; in fact anything except just wages paid.
    In the district in which I worked, teachers were assigned a 20% class load increase, had their salaries effectively cut by requiring higher health insurance costs, and had added, required, before-school meetings which were essentially busy work 3 or 4 days a week, cutting into necessary prep time just before classes started.

    It sounds like the DoD is trying to do something similar here. If they want quality instruction, they need to seriously re-think what the effects are going to be.

  7. It is not only illegal but unethical to demand employees work without compensation. Stifling opposition to ‘extra work’ in DoD schools is wrong.

  8. They need to be treated like normal union labor doing what they are hired for. as to their job discretion. Not to some idea of what our former president and his friends in the Military decide. Hours worked on the job as required need to be paid for.

  9. When I worked for the Dept of Veterans’ Affairs as a voc rehab counselor, my days were improperly extended by a couple of my female supervisors. They would assign me extra cases. But not move them into my district. Once the cases were cleaned up, they would assign them to someone else. If I stayed late to get my regular done, they would insist on having me call other vets, take care of their work, even tho they were on their way out of town. The vets had made no attempt to contact me after being in Chicago for days or weeks. I became quite discouraged. If I took a vacation, immediately after I left they would assign new cases to me. Even while knowing I would be gone two weeks, thus setting me up to miss deadline dates (<than 5 days) to make contact and move the case forward. I reluctantly retired. Within days of my 62nd birthday. The Officer in charge asked me to contact him in a year or so, after I rested up. So I could resume my job. I was too tired, with additional health problems that needed attention, to agree to consider returning. I also cut my SSA and VA pension funds due to these tricks. My ratings were lower with their mess.

  10. The petition form doesn’t work with the latest versions of Firefox. The dropdown menus for prefilled form fields get hidden, most of it anyway.

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