Students, parents, educators: What should David Banks, NYC’s new schools chancellor, know about your school?

A man in a black coat surrounded by other people, most of them without their faces visible.
David Banks surrounded by a sea of supporters on Dec. 9, 2021, when Mayor-elect Eric Adams officially announced the veteran educator would be the next New York City schools chancellor. (Alex Zimmerman / Chalkbeat)

David Banks, New York City’s next school chancellor, has a message to families of the nation’s largest school system: “They will be seen... They will be respected.”

This is your chance to start speaking out. Chalkbeat would like to hear from students, parents and educators. What do you want Banks to know about your school and what schools need? 

The longtime educator — a one-time school safety agent, teacher, principal and founder of a network of public schools primarily serving boys of color — talked on Thursday about the importance of engaging communities in school decision-making and how schools should be an engine of community change.

He stood outside of P.S. 161, his childhood elementary school in Crown Heights, as Mayor-elect Eric Adams announced his appointment, flanked by his own community, including his parents, other relatives and many students and staff from the Eagle Academy network of schools that Banks founded, where he made family engagement a top priority. 

As chancellor, Banks vowed to engage families on all major decisions. 

“That doesn’t mean that all the parents agree with each other. But they will be heard,” Banks said. “There’s a reason why parents don’t trust the system. Because they feel at its core, they’re not respected. If you really respect the parents, you seek out their opinion before you make a decision.” 

He also wants to hear from students: “These young people themselves, they will give us the way forward for the schools they’re experiencing every day.”

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