Metro

Eric Adams expected to tap David Banks to run NYC schools

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Mayor-elect Eric Adams has chosen Department of Education veteran David Banks, a longtime associate, to be chancellor of the nation’s largest school system.

Adams will make the announcement Thursday morning at PS 161 in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, sources told The Post.

Banks, 59, began his ascent during the Bloomberg administration and is best known for founding several city public schools — including a network that primarily educates boys of color.

Former DOE Deputy Chancellor Eric Nadelstern, who came to know Banks while Bloomberg was in office, praised the choice.

“His political skills are off the charts,” he said, highlighting his pragmatism and ability to clear complex bureaucratic hurdles.

The Queens native pivoted from a legal career and served as a principal before launching the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice in 2004, where he worked with current DOE chancellor Meisha Porter.

He later established the first Eagle Academy for Young Men in the Bronx in 2004, an all-boys school that later expanded to a network of six campuses by 2014.

Adams
Banks is a longtime associate of Adams.
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

“From what I saw, he did an enormously good job,” Nadelstern said of Eagle Academy’s beginnings, adding that Banks was unafraid to test new innovations including longer school days and strict dress codes.

Prior to his new appointment, Banks ran the foundation that provides support to Eagle Academy schools through training, counseling and other services.

While Eagle Academies have shown elevated graduation rates, academic metrics have sometimes lagged. But backers contend that the schools aim to support students in ways that can’t always be measured through traditional academic indicators.

Brooklyn College and CUNY Grad Center education professor David Bloomfield said Banks will inherit a raft of challenges upon taking the helm.

He compared Banks’ tight relationship with Adams to the longstanding connection between de Blasio and his first chancellor Carmen Farina.

Carmen Farina
Carmen Farina was Mayor de Blasio’s first chancellor.
Matthew McDermott

“This is someone he has known for a long time, someone he trusts to lead the system,” he said.

Nadelstern said Banks — who will benefit from an influx of federal funding in the coming years — was known as a champion of smaller schools.

“If I had to hazard a guess, he will shift authority away from central to people in schools,” he said. “David gets that failed institutions don’t correct themselves.”

Nadelstern, now a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, said both Banks and Adams will likely rollback some of de Blasio’s hostility towards charter schools while maintaining a focus on traditional public schools. 

While he hasn’t called for a lifting of the charter cap, Adams has extolled successful charters in the past and suggested that struggling networks be replaced with new ones.

Banks has not offered extensive public comment on the charter model, but notably opted to launch traditional public schools rather than charters.

A current DOE administrator with a long history with Banks said he is committed to desegregating buildings, but will take a different tack than de Blasio and his chancellors. 

Rather than focus on hot button conflicts over Gifted and Talented programs and the specialized high schools, Banks will address root issues that impact a wider swathe of city kids of color.

Banks signaled some of his educational priorities in a May op-ed.

These included a lessened emphasis on standardized tests, widening the cultural breadth of curricular materials, and instilling kids with a greater sense of civic duty on issues like voting and climate change.

Abby Jo Sigal, CEO of The Bronx youth organization HERE to HERE, also applauded the choice on behalf of Pathways to Prosperity NYC, a citywide campaign for career-based learning.

“A former principal himself, Banks has shown throughout his career how public schools can innovate to support students holistically and creatively,” Sigal said.

“We are confident that his appointment will not only build off of the good work of previous administrations but also leverage in new ways the broad range of assets in New York City that exist outside of the traditional classroom to make learning come alive,” she said.

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