I was once talking with someone in the home building trade about putting an addition on a house and they told me the rule of thumb that homeowners should know before starting a project. When estimating the cost and the time required to complete a project, you should go through all the material that will be needed, and add the labor costs and then double and triple check those calculations. Once you are certain you have the final cost estimates and time estimates and are confident that they are the final numbers, you only have to do one thing before you start. You double both the cost and time estimates.
Anyone who has undergone some type of construction project can understand the humor — and wisdom – in that statement. Once you start renovating and rebuilding something you always find surprises which can derail a project.
I thought of that story as I have been reading about Acting Commissioner Cerf’s rebuilding and restructuring of the New Jersey Department of Education. While almost everyone agrees that the NJDOE needs to be reconstructed to fit the needs of the children of New Jersey, as well as the local school districts that deliver that education, we know it is not easy. Rebuilding a bureaucracy is a demanding task that I am sure many commissioners would have loved to do but did not have the time, the resources or the political muscle to do so. (Some did tinker with the infrastructure – can you say “Executive County Superintendent”?) So Cerf should be given credit for creating a plan to rebuild the NJDOE.
There is much to like in the acting commissioner’s plan to change the department. But there will also be some things that will surprise him, (more…)