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Friday, July 31, 2020

The Reopening of NYC Schools Requires The Hiring of Competent Project Managers

Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza have  issued their school reopening plan:
Mayor de Blasio, Carranza roll out NYC school reopening plan for fall
Selim Algar and Julia Marsh, NY POST, July 31, 2020

Here are the main points:
"Mayor Bill de Blasio officially presented his school reopening plan Friday — calling for a weekly “blended approach’’ of in-class and online learning for “a vast majority of kids.”
Most students will physically be in class two to three days a week, the mayor said.
“You can certainly say, ‘Yeah, it’s gonna be tough, it’s gonna take a lot of work,’ ’’ Hizzoner told reporters in a conference call.
He said the city’s daily positive-test rate for the coronavirus must remain below 3 percent for the plan to work. He said Friday’s figures show it remains steady at 1 percent."

We believe that the reopening of NYC schools is woefully under-planned, and this should worry everyone, not just the educators, staff, parents, and students whose health and safety are at stake. What are parents to do if they work full-time? 
We are in a fiscal emergency. The budget of the DOE is more than $34 billion with a "b"

"The New York City Office of Management and Budget has projected a $7.4 billion loss in tax revenue due to the pandemic across previous expectations for the fiscal year 2020-21. The DOE’s fiscal 2020-21 budget of $34.2 billion includes $27.5 billion in operating funds and another $6.7 billion in education-related pensions and debt service funds."

Add to these numbers the fact that there is no accountability for the spending of a large percentage of these funds, and no management team at the Chancellor's level to design effective strategies and implementation, and you can realize how big the crisis is at the DOE. My many sources inside the DOE tell me in despair that there is no inter-departmental collaboration or communication. The left foot does not know what the right foot is doing.

Mark Treyger
The inaction and negligence of the NY City Council Education Committee to do anything to make these issues go away is the worst part of all of this because the Council is the voice of the public since Mayoral control over the DOE was approved in 2002 and 2009, and the school board was silenced. When a hearing on Special Education was being held in the fall of 2019, I gave Education Chair Mark Treyger details of how bad the situation was in the NYC DOE for these special needs kids, and in ICT classes. I never heard back from him, nor has his Committee issued any report with the data.

I attended the meeting in Manhattan on the continuance of Mayoral control several months ago, (I oppose Mayoral control) and I heard New York State Assembly Education Committee Chair Michael Benedetto warn all speakers that no criticism of Mayor de Blasio or Chancellor Richard Carranza would be allowed. He repeated this warning several times, as speaker after speaker did not follow his advice, including me. Carranza appeared for about 1/2 hour and gave his statement about how wonderful he (Carranza) was, then left.

Excellent project management is no secret. There are steps that must be taken to assure completion in a timely fashion:
The project scope statement  
The project scope statement is a key document that provides all stakeholders with a clear understanding of why the project was initiated and defines its key goals. Most project scope statements will include these elements.
  • A project statement of work (SoW), which is a detailed breakdown of all work to be performed by a project team and any important elements that may impact the outcome
  • Constraints that might limit or negatively impact the outcome of the project, including resources, procurement issues, timing, or lack of information
  • Scope exclusions, which can be anything that will not be part of the project or its deliverables
  • Milestones that provide the exact date that something will be delivered or completed
  • The final deliverables that will be provided to the customer at the end of the project — for example, a report, a software feature, any process insights or analysis, or any product or service that a customer needs
  • Acceptance criteria that spell out exactly how success will be measured
  • Final approval whereby the customer will sign-off on the scope statement confirming that all parameters have been included and the document is complete and accurate
Key steps for defining your project scope
Properly defining the scope of a project is the key to successfully managing your project. Here are the steps you can follow to define your project scope.
  1. Work with key stakeholders to define and create a scope statement by identifying what is within scope, and out of scope. Collaborating with stakeholders helps to ensure essential things do not fall through the cracks.
  2. Identify, document, and communicate assumptions. Assumptions are those elements that relate to the project that are assumed to be true for the duration of the project. Assumptions are necessary to provide an estimate of the cost and schedule to deliver the project’s scope during the planning phase of a project.
  3. Gain buy-in for the scope statement with the stakeholders who are most impacted to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Fixing this is simple. Remove, replace, or reassign Chancellor Carranza to a spokesperson job, let him sit in his regal office while the rest of us work on a strategic plan that includes all constituents' needs with a focus on placing kids first. Get competent and effective project managers to round up the players at the NYC DOE in order to create a new way for the New Normal public education. We cannot go back.

We can do this. We must do this.

Betsy Combier

School-reopening plans ought to put the kids — not the adults — firstPost Editorial Board, July 30, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to unveil his school-reopening plan Friday. Thanks to his reluctance to cross the United Federation of Teachers, it’s sure to be another bust.
The “blended” model already floated by Chancellor Richard Carranza looks to be a worst-of-both-worlds mix of alternating remote and in-class instruction.
We can’t endorse the alternate plan offered by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (since it would keep all kids home until October), but at least it moves to full-time in-school classes for kids 10 and under: As he notes, all the science suggests those children are at minimal virus risk and don’t even spread the bug significantly.
But the teachers’ union opposes nearly all in-person classes, preferring continued remote “instruction” — though it so far isn’t willing to agree that teachers actually have to show up even virtually for such classes.
Randi Weingarten, the head of the UFT’s national parent union, is forthright about supporting strikes if districts where infection rates are over 5 percent order teachers back to school, claiming: “If people die while they are educating kids, you eviscerate any credibility that you would have going forward about whether or not a school is safe.”
Yet experts agree that children learn best when physically present in the classroom. The venerable American Academy of Pediatrics says no student should be excluded from school unless infected and that “school policies should be guided by supporting the overall health and well-being of all children.”
Meanwhile, school after school is reporting that Carranza’s rules mean students won’t be in the building more than half the time, sometimes not even a third of it. Even so, the custodians’ union is saying more staff will be needed for the daily sanitizing regime.
None of these adults seems focused on their top duty: ensuring kids get the education they need.

NYC school reopening plan doesn’t explain how to keep kids safe, lawmakers argue
Reopening schools will be expensive. NYC pols are demanding a spending plan from the city and state.

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