To the Editor: David Banks, the new Schools Chancellor, is being welcomed with a nervous blend of doubt and faith. By some with open arms and others with reservation. So far his expressed plans and priorities resonate broadly, but time will tell whether his performance vindicates mass confidence. Hopefully, its affirmation will be clear-cut.
So far he's saying the right things, but although they sound commendable, they are template convictions.
Judging from his past associations, there are mixed signals. His stated goals are praiseworthy, but he must be wary of the snipers and gold-diggers within his own ranks.
Banks deserves the traditional honeymoon, but this marriage will be tested by many crucibles, and he will need to continually renew his vows by making courageous decisions that fly in the face of the status quo.
That demands that he slash the central bureaucracy and purge the agency of high-level bureaucrats who are lodged like tapeworms on its budgetary tract. This is essential to fulfill his oath and support the professionals who deliver direct instruction and supportive services to our children.
Past Chancellors have all promised to trim the obese DOE, but left its "deep state" more marbled than ever. This waste is threaded into the internal fabric of the DOE culture. We can't swallow it any longer.
There are too many layers, too many titles, too may sinecures, too many consultants, too many contractors. There are more niches at Tweed than in all the world's columbariums.
Why, for instance, does the DOE automatically solicit retired Principals to work as mentors for a few casual, unstructured hours, paying them more than an Education Assistant earns in a week of high-intensity classroom labor?
The DOE is expert at crafting its job descriptions so that these roles sound indispensable. They are wizards of dysfunction and masters at camouflaging it.
Will David Banks be wise to their ruses?
Taxpayers may fall for the illusion that public education is charitably funded. They don't realize how much is sucked up by non-educational interests.
David Banks must take a fresh approach. He must learn what to starve and who to feed. Parents and educators are partners in nurturing our children, and the preponderance of resources must be injected straight into classrooms.
This town banks on it.