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NYC’s deputy chancellor of early childhood education stepping down after difficult tenure

New York City’s head of early childhood education is out after a tenure pockmarked by backlash to 3-K budget cuts and workplace tensions.

Deputy Chancellor Kara Ahmed announced in a Microsoft Teams meeting and an email to staff Tuesday, both obtained by the Daily News, that she’s leaving the city’s Department of Education for a job in national early childhood education policy. Shortly after, Chancellor Banks confirmed her departure in a statement to the press.

“Dr. Kara Ahmed has been with me since Day 1 of this administration,” Banks said, “and I am immensely grateful to her for her service, dedication, and unparalleled passion for high-quality, equitable Early Childhood Education.”

“She immediately rolled up her sleeves to both stabilize and strengthen this critically important and incredibly complex body of work,” he added.

Schools Chancellor David Banks in Brooklyn on Friday April 5, 2024. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)
Schools Chancellor David Banks is pictured in Brooklyn on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)

In Nov. 2022, Ahmed was believed to be the first deputy chancellor to face a no-confidence vote by the city’s powerful teachers union. The deputy chancellor faced backlash for a series of problems with the early childhood system, including delayed payments to child care providers and a difficult reshuffling of social workers and instructional coordinators.

Banks and Ahmed have insisted that many of the division’s shortcomings were inherited from the prior administration, which stood up the city’s popular 3-K program with temporary pandemic aid from the federal government.

Mayor Adams and the City Council recently reached a budget deal that will backfill some of those dollars for a year with city funding and invest in child care for some of the city’s most marginalized young children, including preschoolers with disabilities and infants and toddlers whose families are undocumented.

Banks on Tuesday credited Ahmed with removing barriers and delays to provider payments, shifting over 7,000 seats to parts of the city and sector with higher demand, and creating more than 800 special education pre-K seats. Ahmed also assisted with the chancellor’s signature literacy initiative, which established a uniform reading  curriculum in 90% of early childhood programs.

Dr. Kara H. Ahmed poses for a portrait in a classroom at a LYFE program site located in the Bronx Regional Campus Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (Barry Williams for New York Daily News)
Dr. Kara Ahmed. (Barry Williams for New York Daily News)

Ahmed, in her memo to staff, said the decision to leave the city’s Department of Education was “incredibly difficult for me to make.”

“While I am profoundly honored and humbled to have been asked to serve in this capacity, this transition is not without sadness after having the privilege to serve the children of New York City for the last 16 years, both as a principal and as Deputy Chancellor,” she said.

“The work we have accomplished together, all in service to children and in partnership with their families, has created the necessary foundation to stabilize, strengthen, and sustain our early childhood education system.”

Ahmed’s departure is the latest in a series of recent shake-ups in the Department of Education’s highest ranks. On Monday, Banks tapped his former chief of staff Melissa Aviles-Ramos as his next deputy chancellor of family engagement and external affairs. She will replace Kenita Lloyd, who is switching roles to Banks’ right-hand.


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