Metro

Next NYC schools leader David Banks vows DOE house cleaning

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Incoming city schools Chancellor David Banks wants to foreclose on the Department of Education’s bureaucratic bloat.

Speaking alongside mayor-elect Eric Adams Thursday outside his boyhood school in Crown Heights, he cast the agency as a cash-guzzling relic in need of a gut renovation.

Noting that the DOE spends $38 billion annually while 65 percent of black and Hispanic city kids fail basic subjects, Banks took direct aim at the DOE’s Tweed Courthouse headquarters near City Hall.

“If everyone at the Department of Education went home and all the kids just went to school you could get those same results,” he said.

“So what is the value added for having thousands of people who work at Tweed? For having thousands of people in these high paid positions? There needs to be a transformation and it will start at the top.”

Adams was equally critical of DOE budgeting practices Thursday.

Mayor Elect Eric Adams (pictured) announced today his choice for NYC School Chancellor. David Banks
Mayor-elect Eric Adams announced David Banks as his choice for schools chancellor on Dec. 9, 2021.
Gregory P. Mango

“If you are there because you enjoy going to conferences, if you’re there because you are using taxpayer dollars to extend your education criteria to pad your resume, if you are there for anything other than educating our children, then you should be concerned,” he warned.

Both men said that too many central staffers are severed from the students they are supposed to serve — and that they should be closer to classrooms.

“You have an overly bureaucratic system with Tweed courthouse and all those who are living well above and away from the problems on the ground,” Adams said.

The former cop said he is girded for the fray — and expects resistance.

Banks
Banks pointed out that the DOE spends $38 billion annually while 65 percent of black and Hispanic city kids fail basic subjects.
Gregory P. Mango

“There is going to be pushback in this bureaucracy of professional dividers and professional naysayers,” he said. “Far too many people at the high end of this administration don’t believe in these babies and their opportunities to learn.”

Banks pledged to move central staffers “closer to where the action is” — and quipped that many Tweed employees who were pressed to work inside schools during the pandemic had never interacted with kids before.

Banks said that the DOE’s approach to education has stagnated over the decades, with officials fixated on superficial upticks in academic metrics rather than meaningful improvement.

Banks
Banks called the DOE an overly bureaucratic system.
Gregory P. Mango

“How are we properly preparing young people for the future that we say we are preparing them for?” he asked. “We’re not. In far too many of our schools you can close your eyes and it might as well be 1950.”

Adams called for a more rigorous accounting of the city’s fattest municipal budget.

“We need to re-examine every dollar that is being spent,” he said. “We need to be more transparent in where those dollars are going and where they are coming from and getting them into the classrooms.”

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