Thursday, February 12, 2009

John Ensign doesn't get it

Senator John Ensign (R - Nev) recently appeared on Meet the Press and derided anyone who would claim public employees would be hurt by the economic downturn:

At risk of sounding too partisan, Ensign as well as many of his colleagues just do not get it. Iowa's state budget was cut so dramatically that Heartland AEA recently eliminated 18 positions, which is more dramatic than it sounds because there were hefty administrative cuts in that 18. This is on top of a salary freeze for many, and several other administrative positions being reassigned as non-administrative, as well as other non-personnel cutbacks.

That's not fearmongering. That's reality.

And that's not to say what the other 9 AEAs in the state will go through, or the DE, or any of the 362 school districts in Iowa. Or other states, for that matter. California has a $6 billion cut in educational spending alone. That's going to be done with printing on two-sides of the paper, Senator?


This hurts. It hurts most of all my colleagues that lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and it hurts their families. But, it also hurts Iowa's move to change and go forward. These people had special skills and abilities that, while being reassigned, cannot be replaced. And even if the economy were to get up and going, and we were able to fill those positions in a couple years, we've lost the sustainability of having those people in those positions. Acclimation time is a drag on efficiency.

Now think about this as school districts go through the same steps, in many times eliminating the younger, enthusiastic teachers who are very adept at teaching in the 21st century. Rather than have that 5th year teacher be an 8th year teacher in her teaching prime in a couple years, she's replaced by a new teacher. It then takes two more years for that individual to become more effective at teaching. Meanwhile, the energetic 5th year teacher has either left the state or left the teaching profession altogether.

The point is, we lose out much more than losing a warm body.

And our politicians need to have a sense of this, especially when they are demanding that states move forward with educational initiatives, because those initiatives will fail if there isn't continuity in the staff that are implementing them.

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