Ron Isaac’s Commentary: The New Chancellor’s Challenge

Dec 28, 2021 by

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 the parasites that are lodged like tapeworms on its budgetary tract. This is essential if he is to fulfill his oath to be a reliable and unstinting benefactor of 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 pernicious 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, almost to the point of badgering them, 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?

That’s just the tip of an iceberg that is deeper than the space between the ground and the highest point reached by Elon Musk’s rockets.

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 for self-justification and perpetuation?

We can’t blame the public for being fooled by slick presentations about the DOE budget. 

When they divide it by the number of students in the system, taxpayers may fall for the credible illusion that public education is charitably funded.  They don’t realize how much is sucked up by non-educational interests.

The DOE’s programs and payees are like the Biblical descriptions of generations: one begats another who begats another and so on and so forth. 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.

Ron Isaac

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