Photo Courtesy of Susan Watts/Comptroller Stringer’s Office
“[I]t is so important that every avenue be pursued to create school communities that are as robust and close to ‘normal’ as possible, without sacrificing public health,” Comptroller Stringer wrote.
By Forum Staff
City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Friday sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza calling for concrete answers on the successes and failures of remote learning, the future of remote instruction, and a comprehensive reopening plan for schools ahead of the start of the next school year.
With just 76 days until the first day of school, Stringer outlined a range of unanswered questions that spotlight the urgency of communicating with parents about what school will look like in the fall, and how the City will ensure that every child receives a quality education. Stringer noted that the Department of Education has yet to provide parents, students, and teachers with information on class structures for next year nor release a transparent assessment of remote learning during the last school year.
Additionally, Stringer’s letter highlighted “the deep disparities” in the quality and quantity of remote instruction across schools since March and the need for the City to provide concrete data and a comprehensive strategy to improve remote learning across the entire public system going forward.
In his missive, Stringer requested details from the City on any plans to:
- Create staggered schedules, which would allow for social distancing by limiting the number of students who attend school each day while keeping others at home learning remotely. The DOE is actively exploring different scenarios but has made no final decisions on how schedules will be structured.
- Offer support and professional development to teachers, especially to help strengthen remote learning strategies.
- Address the digital divide through partnerships with internet service providers, which have provided free internet service through this school year to families in need but have yet to commit to extending such service through the summer and fall.
- Provide principals with information about their school-based budgets, so that they can plan appropriately for the coming year. That information is normally provided to principals in May but to date has not been released by the DOE.
“Make no mistake: if the City does not create a viable path forward for schools, those who suffer the most will be our most vulnerable children—lower-income students of color whose trajectories are most closely tied to the success or failure of the DOE’s promise to deliver a high-quality education to every child. While well-off families may be able to supplement learning gaps with private resources, many communities will not have access to that kind of safety net. That’s why it is so important that every avenue be pursued to create school communities that are as robust and close to ‘normal’ as possible, without sacrificing public health,” Stringer wrote to de Blasio and Carranza. “And yet to date there has been little official information as to what the city’s plans may be. All that has been acknowledged so far is that—to maintain social distancing—some kind of ‘blended’ model of learning will be necessary in the fall, requiring students to split their time between hands-on learning in school, and remote learning from home.”