Before the Tsunami Hits - Advice for Texas Educational Technologists

Note: I wrote this as the kind of honest, forthright advice I'd want to get, but I wonder if any leaders are providing such candid advice to their staff NOW, rather than when the tsunami of unemployment hits at the completion of the Texas State Legislators. And, what do you think of the advice in this letter? Worthless, alarmist, useful? Share your opinion in the comments!

This letter to Round Rock ISD was definitely an eye opener for me! It is scary how much state funding is going to be cut back. Even if the teachers know their status by April, that is still not very much time to find a job before the start of the school year. This should definitely encourage the start of looking for a new job as soon as possible! Round Rock is doing the absolute right thing in this letter by giving all of the employees a heads up of what is to come and by being completely honest with them. The earlier notification date of April will be very helpful to those educators that will have to find jobs elsewhere. This gives them a little extra time to get back on their feet. 
Source: Mary Ashley York's comment 

Fictional Letter to 
Educational Technology Specialists in Texas 

If you don't know what the situation is like, then you need to take a moment and read up on it. For many educators, it may come as a surprise that they may very well be unemployed in 2011-2012. For educational technology specialists, without the State Technology Allotment, you may already be out of a job and your school district just hasn't told you.

As of this date, many districts have not provided a plan or idea of what they expect to do with Instructional Technology Services staff. In all likelihood, without state funding, instructional technology staff would probably be reintegrated back into classroom positions or other positions available...however, given the release of the Senate and House Bills totally eradicating funding for many programs and departments, there may very well NOT be enough jobs to be placed in!

Change is coming and the reason for this missive is so that you have access to the information I'm seeing. I am concerned for you and your livelihood. I'm not writing this out of a desire to frighten you, but rather, because I'm concerned that your job may be lost and I don't want you caught off-guard. 

I am speaking as a Texas educator, a professional colleague,not representing any particular organization or employer. As a result, I encourage you to think through the ramifications of what may happen and do the best you can to select an option that will work for you (or come up with one of your own). I want you to have access to this information above because you have a variety of choices available to you. We are not classroom teachers assured of positions with tenure...and in districts (such as Fort Worth, NorthEast, and many others) that have declared financial exigency, that wouldn't help either.

As I see it, our options in the face of the budget crisis are as follows:

1) Wait and see. Maybe the State will figure it out in time, and school districts will stop cutting jobs. This will be a roller-coaster ride, so stay cool and plan your home budget accordingly. After all, we are only seeing the first drafts of the budget. I encourage you to read School Finance section so you can stay up to date. 

2) Get a funded position elsewhere, like out of education field. If the State Tech allotment is gone as proposed in the first draft of the State budget, then realize that hundreds of people with similar skill-sets as your's will be thrust into the workforce doing the same thing you are--looking for a job. I don't recommend waiting until May when the legislature is done meeting...reach out now. You can find a list of places to start looking here, but realize that the "last hired, first fired"rule may be in effect...and many districts have already instituted hiring freezes, as have regional education service centers. 

So if you decide on this option, find out up front what your new job's 1) Funding source is; 2) What the plans are in case of severe budget cuts. Many districts are already sharing their deficit options.

If you decide on this option, don't wait. Consider that Higher Education (universities/colleges), school districts like Austin ISD, Irving ISD, RoundRock ISD, Northside ISD and many others have already announced "drastic cuts" and begun eliminating their "technology specialist" positions. 

Someone put it this way: Decide early if you plan to stay in your district or completely leave education.

3) Look for a position in the District and go for it. This option keeps you in your district but allows you flexibility to transition to a position under your own power, so to speak. Again, ask the hard questions -- How is this position funded? Is it in danger of being cut in the future?

Whatever option you decide on, get your supervisor's recommendation in writing, as well as any other persons in leadership position. Ask for recommendations that reflect your leadership ability, your teaching ability, your technology expertise. You never know what type of recommendation letter you will need, and the people you might seek those letters from LATER may not be employed in those positions after the tsunami of unemployment hits.

Again, the point in sharing this information with you is so that you will be informed and can make decisions. Sure, we don't have all the information now. But without the million(s) that come from state/federal funding it's obvious that serious cuts and reorganizations are in the immediate future BEFORE budgets are set for the next school year. 

Finally, I encourage you to continue working on your work projects. The budget stuff can be a de-motivator...but the fact is, this is the time when you need to work harder, smarter, and showcase your work more. That effort will be valuable to you whatever option you choose, and you continue to provide services needed.

Save Austin Schools

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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