The city’s powerful teachers’ union is holding an ‘astonishing’ vote of no-confidence against an Education Department cabinet member who recently came under fire for the apparent ousting of hundreds of childcare workers, The News has learned. Post.
Early Childhood Education Vice-Chancellor Kara Ahmed has been at the center of outrage targeting the division she leads, including the nearly 400 social workers and educational coordinators whose jobs are in limbo.
The United Federation of Teachers sent a petition earlier this week to staff members, who received notices in September that most of their posts would be cut, but remained on the payroll while being allowed to search other concerts within the agency.
“Our school system’s early childhood education program, until recently considered the most important program of its kind in the country, is being dismantled before our eyes,” the section heads wrote. from the UFT, Naomi Rodriguez and Raul Garcia, to early childhood staff members.
“The staff who built this program are being sidelined, preschool sites are closing, and the city’s youngest students are paying the price,” it read.
Memos were also emailed to elementary schools and others who interact with the division on Wednesday.
Ahmed – who reports directly to Schools Chancellor David Banks – is also facing criticism over delays in reimbursement for city-contracted early childhood education programs and the exodus of central staff from the division.
“We cannot let the staff who built this program be sidelined or allow preschool sites to close. The youngest students in our city deserve better,” said UFT Secretary Leroy Barr.
The UFT has held votes of no confidence against individual directors, a union spokesman has confirmed – but generally not in higher positions. The union also filed formal complaints against local superintendents, but no votes.
“I have never heard of the UFT having a vote of no confidence in a vice-chancellor – or anyone in central office for that matter,” said Eric Nadelstern, former vice-chancellor of academic support and instruction. under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who worked at the DOE for 40 years.
Nadelstern disapproved of the move against Ahmed, which preceded announcements expected later this week from the Department of Education on childcare and preschool programs.
“Circulating a petition for a vote of no confidence on the eve of the department’s release of its early years plans seems premature and misguided,” he said. “It does not appear to be in the interests of UFT members to react in this way, rather than using a more thoughtful approach to influencing policy.”
The DOE has signaled that it is willing to make improvements to the division, although the policy of reassigning most educational coordinators and social workers was introduced under this administration.
“I will say publicly that the system we inherited was a mess of epic proportions,” Banks told parents in Brooklyn at a town hall last week.
“It’s all linked, when I say there are major challenges,” he added. “Suffice to say it’s not something I’m happy with at all… We’re going to make sure the results are delivered.”
The DOE did not return a request for comment on Wednesday.