NYC Mayor-elect Adams names David Banks as next schools chancellor

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Thursday, December 9, 2021
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Dave Evans ahs the latest on NYC Mayor-elect Eric Adams announcing the first major appointee to his administration this morning.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- NYC Mayor-elect Eric Adams announced the first major appointee to his administration this morning.

He has tapped longtime advisor David Banks for the position of chancellor of the New York City Department of Education.

Banks is the son of a police officer, raised in Southeast Queens, who has taught in Crown Heights and led several city schools.

The announcement came at PS 161 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where Banks attended elementary school.

WATCH: David Banks' complete speech after being named NYC schools chancellor

"David Banks is built for this," said Adams. "David Banks is ready for this. I didn't have to do a national search and find someone that didn't understand our city. I didn't have to do that. For eight years I questioned him. I asked him what he stood for."

Banks was by the mayor-elect's side throughout the campaign.

Banks, who founded the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice in 1997, which current Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter coincidentally took over years later, said he was "deeply humbled, but I am also ready."

He said he will "turn the tables over" in the public school system, innovating "from the bottom up" with decisions made by "engaging the community."

"We are getting ready to not just play around with this, we're going to turn over the tables," he said. "That's what the mayor-elect told me."

Initial reaction to Banks' appointment was positive.

"David Banks is a consummate educator and our @NYCSchools families are lucky to have him at the helm," current Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted. "We know that great DOE Chancellors are born at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice! Mayor-elect @ericadamsfornyc has made a great choice to lead our schools."

"David Banks is an educator who cares deeply about children," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers. "We have worked well with David in the past, and we look forward to continuing that relationship as he takes on the challenge of running 1,600 schools still suffering from the effects of the pandemic."

Banks established the first Eagle Academy for Young Men in the Bronx, the city's first all-boys public high school to open in more than three decades.

Today, the Eagle Academy is a network of six schools -- one in each borough and Newark -- and has become a national model.

The all-male schools are focused on closing the achievement gap with inner city boys in grades six through 12, keeping them in school, out of gangs and hopefully on to college.

Students of color at the Eagle Academy have graduation rates of almost 90%, compared to the national rate just under 60%.

The formula is a mix of parental involvement, academic rigor and mentoring.

Banks will use that experience as he take over the largest school district in the country, a massive $38 billion bureaucracy.

"We are in a city with 65% of Black and brown children never reach proficiency and we act like that's normal, it's all right," Adams said. "Let me tell you something -- if 65% of white children were not reaching proficiency in this city they would burn this city down."

Banks has said his first priorities include expanding childhood education options and career pathways for older students.

He has promised to take bold action to weed out weak teachers.

And like Mayor-elect Adams, he supports charter schools -- unlikely to gain much support from the powerful teachers union.

Banks is also the brother of former NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks, who is advising Adams on law enforcement.

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