I am writing this rejoinder to state Sen. Tony Avella’s Nov. 22-28 response to Bob Friedrich’s Nov. 8-14 column “P-Tech program will serve as boon to Martin Van Buren.”

As a security professional and founder of a startup in the information technology industry, I can say that P-Tech holds the key to something positive for industry executives and future employees. Information technology knowledge, skills and abilities are in tremendous demand and our schools are not producing the talent needed.

The fundamentals are not only what students will need. They will need to learn many other important aspects of information technology — privacy, security and functionality — no matter what their field of endeavor may be. The legacy of Martin Van Buren High School should not be determined by the actions of a few tainted bureaucrats and politicians. It will be determined by the parents, families and students who attend the school no matter where they live.

I have chosen not to participate in these discussions because they are counterproductive to the importance of the matter at hand. This discussion should not be about co-locations, organizational structures and deployments of staff, resources, etc. Nor should it be about kids coming in from other parts of Queens.

These are scare tactics and detract from the primary issue: the children and their education and future needs. Our children deserve better. The children deserve a rational analysis of what knowledge, skills and abilities will be required of them in the future. Ideally, that would dovetail into the traditional education and a modern day P-Tech.

Now that the city Department of Education has brought P-Tech in, instead of putting up a wall against it, we should look at carving out some areas of agreement in the community and see if accommodations can be bridged. Flame throwing is not in the best interest of our children. They deserve better. The level of professional discourse needs to be held to a higher standard. If we want our kids to improve their communication and discipline skills, we need to set an example. We need to model the best behavior we want our kids to emulate.

Friedrich is entitled to a fair hearing of his opinions — whether you agree or disagree — and so is Avella, but when one party has spoiled their ability to be impartial by doing the bidding of the United Federation of Teachers on every issue, this is bias or prejudice. Avella should recuse himself from all future discussions concerning educational issues in his district, since entrenched political conflicts of interest with the UFT have rendered his ability to be impartial null and void.

He has benefited from UFT political action committee money when it was within his ability to say no, but it is a clear conflict of interest when elected officials take in thousands of campaign dollars and then pretend to be fair and impartial arbiters of the public good. It is a conflict that Avella is inseparable from the UFT and its delegates, electioneering, phone banks, campaign workers, mailings and funds flowing into his campaign coffers to guarantee his permanent incumbency so long as he does its bidding.

New York can do better and politics will be better served if voters’ tolerance for this type of duplicity and deception stops and solutions for our children are discussed in the open, not behind closed doors.

Joseph Concannon


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