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New DOE boss Banks seeks parent input to fix schools

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Incoming New York City schools chancellor David Banks emphasized parent engagement to help transform the Big Apple’s “flawed” public school system — in a stark contrast to the Biden administration’s stance that moms and dads should leave education to teachers and administrators.

Banks, whom Mayor-elect Eric Adams announced Thursday as the new head of the nation’s largest public education system, slammed recent approaches for re-engineering the city’s school system as “completely off.”

Banks vowed that he’d never announce a major policy initiative for the city’s public schools unless he was “surrounded by parents and families who have co-signed what we are doing.”

“The answers to how we re-engineer this system exist in the hearts and the minds of the teachers, the principals, the children and their families,” Banks said outside his childhood elementary school, PS 161 in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood.

David Banks
David Banks, the city’s next schools chancellor, emphasized engaging with parents to transform the school system.
Gregory P. Mango

“If we want to create an innovative school system, you cannot do that without engaging the community.”

Banks’ calls for parental engagement comes after the FBI was called on by the DOJ to investigate outspoken parents across the country who were likened to “domestic terrorists.”

US Attorney General Merrick Garland revealed in October that the FBI was investigating what he called “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”

Opponents of the academic doctrine known as Critical Race Theory protest outside of the Loudoun County School Board headquarters, in Ashburn, Virginia
The Department of Justice requested the FBI investigate a rise in harassment and threats of violence against school board members nationwide.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Garland’s announcement came just days after the National School Boards Association told President Biden in a letter, “America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat” — as parents grew frustrated with mask mandates and critical race theory being injected into their curricula.

As Banks takes charge of a city Department of Education that is still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, he vowed on Thursday to “turn the tables over” in its bloated headquarters.  

“I know that every young person that attends our schools, across the city, is filled with brilliance, potential, promise and gifts,” Banks said. “And I know something else, that they exist in a school system that is fundamentally flawed.”

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

“I am deeply humbled, but I’m also ready. You cannot change New York City if you do not change the state of education and that is where we begin,” he added.

Banks took aim at current DOE bureaucracy and questioned why thousands of people in “these high-paid positions” were needed.

“It needs to be a transformation and it will start at the top. We will turn the tables over,” he said. “People have said that for many years, but that’s certainly what we intend to do.

“The system will be re-engineered from the bottom up … Today is a day to celebrate what will be a rebirth of this department.”



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