Sesame Street layoffs are no joke

Roll over Cookie Monster and tell Elmo the news, the economic slowdown has hit Sesame Street.

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit producer of the beloved children's series, announced yesterday that it was slashing 67 people from its staff of 355.

As the Associated Press noted, Sesame declared it was "not immune to the unprecedented challenges of today's economic environment" and that it "needed to operate with fewer resources in order to achieve our strategic priorities."

Maybe one of its priorities should be not to spread itself so thin.

As the parent of a toddler, I am simply amazed by the huge variety of Sesame Street characters that have been created since I was a kid. For instance, did you know that Elmo had a country cousin named Elmer? What about Bert's nephew Brad or Suze Kabloozie? I know this trivia because I work from home and occasionally am subjected to kids' TV.

Much as I appreciate the good work that Sesame Workshop does in teaching my son about vegetables, letters, and colors, Sesame Workshop sometimes loses sight of its core education mission. Does Elmo's face need to appear on diapers and cans of vegetables? Some of the DVDs that Sesame has put out are of poor quality. Is it any wonder that they wind up on supermarket discount racks?

Sesame Workshop makes a difference in the lives of children in 120 countries. The company's programs still are orders of magnitude better than most content geared toward preschoolers. An exception is Sesame's dreadful "Dragon Tales" show, which I hope is immediately canceled to cut costs.

The organization faces its biggest challenge in its more than 40-year history. I only hope Sesame can retain its hard-earned integrity as it tries to do more with less.

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