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Chancellor Banks defends end of teaching and learning division, says more bureaucratic shakeup to come

Schools Chancellor David Banks is pictured in Manhattan on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. (Theodore Parisienne for ϲʿֱ)
Schools Chancellor David Banks is pictured in Manhattan on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. (Theodore Parisienne for ϲʿֱ)
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Chancellor David Banks on Thursday defended his decision to dissolve the public schools’ 2,000-person teaching and learning division and suggested more is on the horizon for the nation’s largest school district.

The schools head declined to specify upcoming plans, but said he will announce “several more changes” over the next few weeks.

“I’m not in love with any division,” Banks told reporters at the public school headquarters in lower Manhattan. “I came here to make sure that we can exact real change in our schools to have maximum impact for kids and families.”

“If that meant clearing everybody out of this building and not having a central office, that’s what I would do. We’ve done a lot of that,” he said.

The teaching and learning division oversaw Banks’ signature literacy initiative in preschool and elementary schools. By next school year, the city’s 32 community school districts will have to pick between three curricula that focus on letter sounds and combinations.

Since Banks became chancellor in 2022, he’s axed the executive superintendents position, eliminated 600 central positions and moved approximately 500 staff into community district offices. He’s billed those shakeups as efforts to trim bureaucracy and move resources closer to schools.

“Over the next few weeks, you’re gonna hear several more changes that we are making with respect to reorganizing offices, and none of it is personal,” Banks said.

“I don’t need 2,000 people here in Tweed,” Banks said, referring to the old courthouse where central offices are located. “I need them working in schools and district offices, because that’s where the action is. The action is not here. This is where we have a press conference.”

His team had previously indicated reforms were underway for higher grades, and curriculum for middle and high school would be . Those selections have yet to be made public.

When asked about those plans and whether they were delayed by the overhaul, Miatheresa Pate, who will oversee the restructuring, said her new team will “continue to move as a well-oiled machine.” To help older students with reading, Pate said schools are working with external professional development partners and identifying students’ needs.

Banks said there will be no layoffs as a result of the changes, which will involve absorbing employees into the school leadership division. But the Department of Education will be down at least one employee: The division’s deputy chancellor, Carolyne Quintana, whose departure after this school year was revealed Monday.

Deputy chancellor Carolyne Quintana
ϲʿֱ Public Schools Press Office
Deputy chancellor Carolyne Quintana. (ϲʿֱ Public Schools Press Office)

This week, she was on its website and noticeably absent from the press conference.

“For two-plus years, Q has been a critical member of our team and has demonstrated commitment, persistence, grace and vision,” Banks said Thursday. “I’m honored to have worked with her, and I’m grateful for her service to our city’s students.”

Since Monday’s announcement, teachers and parent advocates have lamented the loss of Quintana from senior leadership.

“They will regret this,” said a Queens teacher, who spoke against their employer on the condition of anonymity. “It’s bad for kids in so many ways.”

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