Readers Write: Berkowitz is the better choice for our board of education

I recognize that Michael Glickman has had much success in his career; however, I cannot get past his constant need to criticize others. I question how well he is able to collaborate, listen to others, and reach consensus.

For those reasons, I have a very hard time picturing him as part of the Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education.

Mr. Glickman’s letters to the Great Neck News appear on a regular basis and are always critical. He started with criticism of Great Neck Plaza leadership. Then, his favorite subject became the Great Neck Public Schools.

As a co-president of UPTC (United Parent-Teacher Council), I have been in Zoom meetings with him where he made several of us feel uncomfortable with his confrontational tone. In my role in UPTC, I’ve also received confrontational emails from him. Words matter.

There are ways to have discussions, share ideas and concerns, and get things accomplished without getting confrontational, especially when we all share a common goal — to offer the best educational experience possible for all students in this district.

I am the parent of three children educated in our district. With the graduation this year of my twins, I will be finishing up 15 years of being a parent leader in Great Neck. Among the highlights were four years as PTO President at E.M. Baker School and three years as PTO President at Great Neck South High School.

I’ve also served in leadership roles at my synagogue. Through these volunteer roles, I’ve had the honor of being on selection committees and nominating committees. Part of those tasks is to look at how well the candidate would work alongside others, and whether they would contribute something that doesn’t already exist in the organization.

It’s important to look at the needs of the organization and what the organization will gain from adding the candidate. I don’t think Michael Glickman will be adding anything to the Board of Education that doesn’t already exist. Instead, I think his confrontational style will impede decision-making.

Mr. Glickman thinks that we need BOE trustees who have children in our schools. We have that. Board Trustee Jeff Shi has a daughter in high school and Grant Toch, running unopposed for the seat previously held by Donald Ashkenase, has three children in the district.

That’s 40 percent of the BOE with children currently in school. Board Trustee Rebecca Sassouni’s children are recent graduates, and she was very involved with being on PTO boards and Shared Decision Making, so she is fully familiar with what being an involved parent of a Great Neck student is like and how well our students are prepared for college.

Board Trustee Donna Peirez brings the insight of a well-respected retired elementary school teacher, in addition to her past involvement in UPTC and other parent leadership roles while raising her children in Great Neck.

Barbara Berkowitz brings experience and knowledge of the history of the Board, as she is the only trustee with more than five years on the BOE. (Mrs. Berkowitz was also a past president of the E.M. Baker PTO.)

Mr. Glickman had commented that the BOE isn’t aware of the latest technology. Not only is Jeff Shi an Information Technology professional, but the district has a Director of Technology (Dr. Justin Lander), in addition to having a UPTC Technology Committee (open to any parent interested in being part of the committee) that regularly meets with Dr. Lander.

The “can’t anyone around here do anything right” attitude is not productive to building a sense of community. It’s important for the future of our schools, and Great Neck as a whole, that we work together and acknowledge each other’s strengths.

In my 15 years of involvement in this district, I’ve worked with a lot of wonderful parents. With an average of about 20 parents on each school’s PTO/PTA executive board and many others on UPTC committees, this district is blessed with a diverse group of caring and dedicated volunteers.

We all have different strengths, our children have different needs, but we work collaboratively towards our goals. I encourage parents to take on these roles in their children’s schools.

What Michael Glickman might not realize is that decisions need to be made in light of how they will impact all of the stakeholders; that includes not only the varying needs of the students in our district but also the employees.

That is why the re-opening committees this past summer had the representation that they did. Representation needed to be there from every union (teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, etc.), the BOE, and from parents.

By re-electing Barbara Berkowitz and adding Grant Toch, the Great Neck Board of Education will be a “dream team,” a team that I believe will work well together, bring different perspectives, embrace new ideas, have respectful discussions, and that will continue to listen to the input of parent leaders.

(To be clear, I refer to my parent volunteer roles in this letter only to reference how I am familiar with the candidates. This letter is my opinion alone and is not in any way connected to UPTC or any PTO.)

Miriam Kobliner
Great Neck

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