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David Banks: NYC's Next Schools Chancellor?


David Banks, 59, is considered to be the top candidate on New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams' list for schools chancellor. (Photo: New York Amsterdam News Podcast)

With New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams being inaugurated on January 1, 2022, Adams currently has the duty of filling the role for school’s chancellor and David Banks, longtime advisor to Adams, is noted as the top candidate for this position.

Banks, known for his success and expertise in the New York City Education system, founded the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice in 1997. This school serves grades six through twelve and believes that “learning is a product of thinking."

Banks, 59 years old, also founded the Eagle Academy for Young Men in 2004. The school was opened due to “the national crisis that is impacting the young men all across this country,” Banks said in 2008.

The Eagle Academy has expanded to six schools in New York City, distinguishing itself with a rich curriculum and extracurriculars. These schools primarily serve Black and Hispanic students that face low graduation rates and increased chances of incarceration.

Banks differentiates himself as the prime candidate due to his experience and connections within the New York City educational system, whereas former chancellors were often appointed from the outside, and simply brought management skills.

New York City Director of the Alliance for Quality Education Zakiyah Ansari’s youngest child graduated from Eagle Academy in 2018.

Ansari praised Banks’ understanding of communities and school operations: “If that was an example of what schools could look like, at minimum, I think David Banks would have us on the right path."

Banks' connection to teachers, families, and principals is an asset that will be very useful in guiding the school system.

As of now, should Banks be the successful candidate, he faces the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic that disproportionately affects minority students

Stuyvesant High School is one of NYC’s most competitive, yet segregated schools (Photo: Medium)

Banks' possible appointment as chancellor also raises the question of what will be done to desegregate NYC schools.

It was found by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project that New York state had the most segregated schools in the nation. This is evident by the lack of representation among Black students in specialized schools such as Stuyvesant High School, where only 8 students received offers out of 749 spots.

While Adams is set to announce the position of schools chancellor soon, Banks has made clear that he supports additional funding and services that will serve disadvantaged students.

The responsibility to serve the largest school system in the nation will not be an easy task, but should Banks be the successful candidate for chancellor, his close relationship with Adams and devotion to New York City students may serve as a vessel to the mayor-elect's plan to create more quality and equitable education for all students.

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