Readers Write: Technology flourished under Berkowitz

The Island Now

New ideas and suggestions from parents and community members to enhance the quality of education in the Great Neck Public Schools (GNPS) are always welcome. There is room for improvement in any program or service, even in an award-winning school district that consistently appears near the top of every ranking system.

Ideally, a challenger for a Board of Education seat would bring new ideas and contribute constructive suggestions to advance the public discourse. Unfortunately, that has not been the case with Michael Glickman’s election campaign, which has been rooted in baseless and unsubstantiated criticisms, particularly about technology, innovation, and investment.

Mr. Glickman has asserted on his website that a change in Board leadership is needed because: “We need a school district that doesn’t just talk about technology but is prepared to invest in the tools needed to properly power our children’s education.” “We need a school district that is committed to creating future-ready curricula and facilities to support student-centered learning.” “We need a school district that is prepared to invest in high-quality professional development to support our teachers’ ability to meet the demands of this and future generations of students.”

It is surprising that Mr. Glickman, as a parent, doesn’t know that the district has invested millions of dollars over the years enhancing its technology, upgrading its curricula, and future-proofing its infrastructure.

But as a candidate for the board, not knowing this is inexcusable. Students are advised to do their homework regularly; shouldn’t voters expect similar preparation from those seeking office? I don’t know Mr. Glickman personally, but I take very personally his unsubstantiated attack on the stellar educational technology program that I nurtured with great care for over two decades.

Mr. Glickman is right that something is lacking, but it is not technology; it is specificity. He has not mentioned a single technology needed by students that haven’t been provided to them. The only conclusion I can draw is that he uses “technology” as a weasel word to mislead voters into believing that a change in leadership is necessary to keep up with the times when that is not actually the case.

I want to reassure parents and community members that GNPS students receive a high-tech education that is superior to, and the envy of, comparable school districts. I know this because I personally hosted numerous visitations from Long Island teachers and administrators who were seeking to understand and emulate the GNPS technology program.

GNPS technology is not only good, it is great, and a source of community pride.

I will be specific: iPads for every student; SMART Boards/interactive flat panel displays mounted in every classroom; state-of-the-art wired and wireless networks installed in every school; wireless hotspots available to families without Internet access eliminating the digital divide; coding, robotics, 3D printers, and STEAM education at every level; renovated twenty-first century library media centers funded through the most recent bond issue; node chairs and other forms of flexible furniture to encourage collaboration and a digital workflow; student-run television studios with video-editing capability at both ends of town; robust in-person, hybrid, and online technology professional development for teachers; school and UPTC technology committees that meet regularly with the district technology director; visitor management, video surveillance, access control, and E-911 security systems to improve school safety; voice over IP phone systems integrated with PA systems that saved tens of thousands of dollars in phone service; new digital workflows that save money, go greener, and enable remote education during the pandemic; and millions of dollars in taxpayer savings maximizing E-Rate discounts and Smart Schools Bond Act funds.

These accomplishments would not have been possible without the invaluable support and unwavering partnership of Barbara Berkowitz and the Board of Education during my 24 years leading the GNPS educational technology program.

So, when someone tries to tell you technology is lacking for GNPS students and doesn’t tell you what it is, be skeptical. When someone tries to unseat a dedicated, experienced, and effective board member for reasons that cannot be substantiated, be wary.

Ask yourself if the claims ring true, if they are explained thoroughly and specifically, and if they meet the eye test. And when the claims inevitably fall short, remember that Barbara Berkowitz was there all along, putting children first and investing in their future.

Re-elect Barbara Berkowitz and preserve ongoing educational innovation in Great Neck.

Marc Epstein
Former GNPS District Technology Director

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