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Children’s Aid alum to head education department’s pre-K efforts

Josh Wallack (Photo via Children’s Aid Society)

Josh Wallack (Photo via Children’s Aid Society)

N. Garcia

The de Blasio administration added another Children’s Aid Society official to its ranks today as Josh Wallack, who headed early childhood programs at the social services agency, joins the Department of Education.

Wallack will be the department’s first “chief strategy officer,” with a portfolio that includes steering the execution of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to expand pre-kindergarten access.

Wallack will also play a role in improving how schools receive support — a loaded topic that Chancellor Carmen Fariña hasn’t yet tackled publicly — and shaping the instruction offered in city classrooms, according to a city press release. (His long resume, which includes as de Blasio’s legislative director a decade ago, does not reflect any teaching experience.)

“In everything I do, I’m going to be thinking about the quality of instruction for our students—including the four-year-olds in pre-kindergarten—professional development for our teachers, and support for our schools and community partners in every way possible,” Wallack said in a statement.

The Department of Education faces a formidable to-do list when it comes to turn the promise of pre-K expansion into policy. Wallack’s job at Children’s Aid included designing a performance management system for the group’s 12 early childhood sites, suggesting that he might helm the inchoate effort to ensure quality across a large number of pre-K sites.

His appointment comes less than a week after de Blasio named Richard Buery, until then the CEO of the Children’s Aid Society, as a deputy mayor for strategy tasked with bringing the mayor’s pre-K and community school’s plans to life. The dual appointments suggest that the coordination between City Hall and the Department of Education on pre-K will continue for some time.

The city’s complete press release is below.

CHANCELLOR FARIÑA ANNOUNCES THE APPOINTMENT OF JOSH WALLACK AS CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER Longtime Public Servant Chosen to Oversee Strategic Trajectory, Shift Focus Back to Instruction and Improving Our Schools and Help Lead Implementation of Universal Pre-Kindergarten Chancellor Carmen Fariña today appointed Josh Wallack as Chief Strategy Officer of the Department of Education (DOE), a critical new role that will provide strategic direction for the Department as it seeks to implement Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vision to make free, full-day, high-quality pre-kindergarten available to all four-year-olds; strengthen school support; and improve classroom instruction. With years of experience in City government and education, Wallack most recently led The Children’s Aid Society early childhood programs, where he worked to provide comprehensive support to children and their families in targeted, high-needs New York City neighborhoods. While at The Children’s Aid Society, he served on Mayor de Blasio’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten Implementation Working Group. Today, we welcome a champion of our children to the Department of Education. With a proven record of success, Josh has real, on-the-ground experience in expanding opportunities for our kids. He believes deeply in the value of high-quality instruction and the necessity of shifting the focus back to our classrooms, said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. As a lifelong public servant, Josh will be an integral part of my team and comes equipped to hit the ground running, bringing strategic guidance that will be an asset to our team. In everything I do, I’m going to be thinking about the quality of instruction for our students—including the four-year-olds in pre-kindergarten—professional development for our teachers, and support for our schools and community partners in every way possible. I am thrilled to join Chancellor Fariña and the accomplished team of public servants working to serve New York City’s families and children, said Chief Strategy Officer Josh Wallack. We have an extraordinary opportunity to move City schools in a new direction—and I look forward to working with the Chancellor to bridge the gap for all students and ensure their opportunity for success. Wallack brings years of experience in City government to his new position. Most recently, he served on the Mayor’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten Implementation Working group, and held the position of Vice President of Early Childhood Programs at the Children’s Aid Society. There, he supervised award-winning early childhood programs across 12 sites in four neighborhoods citywide. Wallack also helped implement performance management systems, now used weekly to monitor enrollment, attendance, health outcomes, and developmental progress across sites and classrooms. Prior to joining The Children’s Aid Society, Wallack was the Chief Operating Officer for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), where he supervised four operating divisions of NYCEDC and led projects critical to the City’s economic development agenda. Wallack has served in the Office of the Deputy Mayor as a Senior Policy Advisor, where he worked on the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan and led the Hunter’s Point South project, the largest affordable housing development in New York City since the 1970’s. He served as the Legislative Director for then-Council Member Bill de Blasio from 2002 to 2006.