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Eric Adams’ DOE pick David Banks is a change of course from de Blasio: Goodwin

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Eric Adams’ DOE pick David Banks is a change of course from de Blasio: Goodwin

Never in the history of New York City has a “bum’s rush” been more necessary and welcome. Even before Bill de Blasio, the Worst Mayor Ever, leaves office, the dismantling of his reign of disaster is beginning. 

Hallelujah. 

His successor, Eric Adams, takes office Jan. 1, and clearly understands the need to move quickly before more New Yorkers give up on their city. Adams has declared himself the new face of the Democratic Party and made a big down payment toward that end with his first major appointment. 

“The cavalry is coming. Help is on the way,” he said at an animated press conference where he introduced David Banks, his pick for schools chancellor. And Banks himself didn’t waste time in proving his boss correct by targeting the bloated education bureaucracy. 

As if speaking to the educrats directly, Banks asked, “If you left, and your job disappeared tomorrow, would that change anything that’s going on in any of our schools?” 

He answered his own question by noting that “65 percent of black and brown children never achieve proficiency” on standardized exams, calling that “a betrayal” and adding: “Think about if everybody in the Department of Education went home and all the kids went to school, you could get those same results.” 

His challenge is aimed at both the education blob and its puppet master, the United Federation of Teachers. Although usually regarded as a powerful force within the Democratic Party, the union did not endorse Adams in the crucial primary, meaning he is debt-free, and no UFT officials attended the Banks announcement. 

The union stuck with a career ally, Comptroller Scott Stringer, who got a mere 6 percent of the vote. The result shows the union isn’t nearly the political heavyweight or savvy operator its reputation suggests. 

Banks made it known at his introductory press conference that he would be going after the bureaucracy at the Department of Education.
Banks made it known at his introductory press conference that he would be going after the bureaucracy at the Department of Education.
Gregory P. Mango

Another sign the union will be on the outside looking in comes with Banks’ choice of Daniel Weisberg to be deputy chancellor. When he worked for former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Weisberg was part of the effort to get rid of bad teachers. The effort was only modestly successful, but the Weisberg appointment has the union worried Adams, who met with Bloomberg, will pick up the baton. 

In key ways, Banks himself is an heir of the best of Bloomberg’s education reforms, which emphasized the creation of smaller schools and charters. A lawyer by training, Banks in 2004 started his first single-sex small school. 

He named it the Eagle Academy for Young Men, believing that many black boys in particular needed more attention and a structured environment, including uniforms. He later started a successful fundraising arm, and there are now six Eagle Academy schools, one in each borough and one in New Jersey. 

Adams, as Brooklyn Borough president, adopted the Eagle model in nine borough schools. 

Banks’ out-of-the-box background helps explain the boldness he demonstrated in a series of impressive interviews. 

Addressing the hot-button issue of Gifted & Talented programs, the chancellor-in-waiting said they would not be ended, as de Blasio wanted, but instead would be expanded to give more kids opportunities for admission. 

“We shouldn’t be reducing them,” Banks told NY1, adding that it was unfortunate that “our parents are all kind of chasing after the handful of good programs. We need to expand on the programs.” 

Banks, like Adams, is a proponent of Gifted and Talented programs in city schools.
Banks, like Adams, is a proponent of Gifted and Talented programs in city schools.
Gregory P. Mango

To underscore the point, Banks said his team would follow a similar approach on admission tests at eight specialized high schools. 

“Those exams will stay as they are but we’re going to create even more opportunities for young people to go to specialized high schools,” he said. 

For tens of thousands of parents, and many future parents, these are heaven-sent gifts. For just as children with physical and other special needs require targeted programs, children capable of accelerated learning deserve to have their “special needs” accommodated, too. 

To argue, as de Blasio and many on the left do, that every student is gifted and talented is to equate participation trophies with excellence. Further, the sensational success of the vast majority of the students in accelerated programs justifies their high standards. 

It is especially noteworthy that Adams and Banks, both of whom are black, are supporting Gifted & Talented and specialized schools at a time when most of the opponents focus on racial imbalances. At the most demanding schools, especially Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, upwards of 70 percent of students are Asian Americans, with black and Latino students combined scoring only about 10 percent of seats. 

Given the lopsided outcomes, criticism often has an unmistakable anti-Asian bias. But with many of the Asian students living in poverty and being either immigrants or first-generation Americans, it would be smarter for mayors and chancellors to copy what Asian parents do to help their children succeed instead of punishing them by restricting admissions. 

The other good news to come out of the Banks appointment is that he, like Adams, supports charter schools, which now educate about 145,000 students, or 14 percent of the city’s public school population. One test for Adams will be how hard he pushes Albany to raise the cap on city charters, which has been reached. 

Yet based on what we know about them already, Adams and Banks stand head and shoulders above de Blasio and his series of failed chancellors. For eight years, they conducted race-baiting games and a war on merit that aimed to eliminate any admissions criteria that did not produce results mirroring the schools’ racial breakdown. 

Mayor-elect Adams said that “help is on the way” for city schools when he announced his DOE pick.
Gregory P. Mango

Fortunately, the mayor was so lazy and incompetent that he only recently announced his plan to destroy the Gifted & Talented programs, and now Adams and Banks have arrived to save them. 

Of course, de Blasio’s failures were not limited to schools. Across the board, he almost destroyed the city, leaving his successor to face a seemingly endless list of critical problems. 

Thankfully, Gotham will soon be under new leadership. And because of Adams’ appointment of Banks and his repeated pledges to tackle crime, the future is already looking brighter.

Hillary’s still stuck on ’16

Hillary Clinton got verklempt last week while reading the 2016 victory speech she never got to give. It was an odd decision and not a great speech, but think of the possibilities it raises. After all, who doesn’t want to hear what Jimmy Carter would have done in a second term? 

Slow Joe

Readers have concerns about President Biden’s fitness, with Carlos Hernandez doubting the commander in chief would know what to do if an electromagnetic pulse weapon was detonated above our homeland. He writes: “We’d be sent back to the Stone Age while Biden asks if this means his ice cream will melt.” 

Vernon Weddle spots the president’s habit of tall tales, asking: “How long before Biden tells us about the day he walked on the moon?”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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