Nikos Papageorgiou is a Greek running for office in the NYC Educational Council for District 2 (CECD2), and for Citywide Educational Council, representing the Bronx (CCHS Bronx). New Greek TV caught up with him to learn about his heritage, his aspirations, and the reasons why he is running for thiw particular position.
Tell us a little about your past (family and education).
My name is Nikos Papageorgiou and I am the son of Ilias Papageorgiou, a decorated Greek Air Force Pilot, from Tripoli, and Syrago Alexiadis Papageorgiou, a nurse, from Volo. My father, Ilias, had almost 10,000 flight hours, including combat missions during World War II against Nazi Germany’s General Rommel in Egypt, as well as in the Korean War, under British and USA command, respectively.
I was born in Volos but raised in Athens. I lost his mother to cancer at the age of 17 and shortly after I immigrated to North Carolina to attend college. While working almost full-time throughout college to support himself, I received a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (1984), an MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering, from North Carolina State University (1985), as well as an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business (1995).
After a career as an Engineer, Marketing Executive and Wall Street Analyst, I am currently an entrepreneur, involved with various projects in the food industry.
I reside on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with my wife Aspasia Christopoulos and two sons, Ilias and Yiorgos, 15 and 12 years old, respectively, both of whom attend NYC public schools.
How has your heritage affected your outlook and perhaps your aspiration to dabble in community affairs? Do you consider your endeavors as political?
My endeavors are not political at all. The way I believe my heritage affected me is because I was brought up to stand up for my values and my rights, but most importantly, that there is NOTHING above the safety, security and well being of my kids.
Why are you running for this office? What prompted you to do so and what to do you aspire to do if given the chance?
The reason I am running for this office is because I believe that the NYC Department of Education (DOE) and our schools are undermining our right, as parents, to raise our kids according to our family/religious values and the maturity level of our kids. The way they are doing that is by exposing our kids, without our knowledge, to “teachings” that we might have to say or do something about
As an example, since one size doesn’t fit all, we get a note from the school, a few days before they plan to hold a sex education session, so that we can a) talk/prepare them, b) opt out, for whatever reason, including raising or kids on sexual abstinence, or c) do anything else we choose, including nothing at all. It’s a parents’ right to know and a parents’ right to act as she/he sees fit.
nfortunately, that’s not the case with “Social Issues”. So, without our knowledge, in the name of White Privilege, our kids have to apologize for being who they are, in the name of Transgender Remembrance Day, they have to be challenged about their sexuality or gender and in the name of Racism, they are told that certain words can only be used by certain ethnic or racial groups and that accelerated learning is bad and racist.
A huge contributor to me running was the unwillingness of other parents to say something about it to the school, not because they disagreed with me but because they were afraid that they and their kids will me “marked”.
I believe that the reason we are here is because middle of the road, moderate, reasonable people, like myself, have been complacent with things happening around us. So that’s the end of complacency for me and messing with my kids was what broke my camel’s back.
I don’t know if I am brave or just naïve, but I decided to do something about it, so I am running for NYC Educational Council. The elections are May 1st – May 11th. Each parent with a child in a NYC Public School has a vote for each child using their www.mystudent.org account. Please visit my Facebook page “Nikos for NYC Educational Council” or tweet @NikosPapage. Don’t be complacent, have an opinion, be involved, vote even if it’s not for me.
Where do you stand on all those “Social Issues”?
That’s the point. Where each of us stands on these issues is irrelevant to what I am talking about, regarding the transparency of the schools. Our right to know is above every and all issues. What I tell my friends is… “I support you. Let me march with you, but can you PLEASE stop texting my 10 years old son without my knowledge, no matter what you are texting him about”. I am helping my younger son’s friend with Math and we text regularly. I NEVER text him without copying one of his parents. NEVER. I demand the same courtesy from the schools, for all of us. Is that too much to ask?
What are the educational needs, especially of the Bronx that you want to address? What are the most acute problems, and how can you personally deal with them?
Besides the indoctrination, without our knowledge, of all our kids, to become the new Social Justice Warriors, I believe that the biggest educational problem of the City is its failing schools. Having said that, I believe that the politicians are providing a disservice to the people, especially the minorities, because instead of addressing the problem that gives thousands of their kids each year a one way ticket to minimum wage and maybe welfare, since they graduate High School without knowing how to read/write or do basic arithmetic, they redirect their attention by inciting racial and ethnic tensions talking about Gifted and Talented (G&T), as well as Specialized High Schools.
I believe that the way you close gaps is not by slowing down the leaders but by helping the laggers to catch up, and I don’t believe that you can legislate excellence. So, I am for expanding the Gifted & Talented (G&T) and other accelerated educational programs, primarily into neighborhoods that seem to be falling behind and I am also for keeping Specialized High Schools the way they are. Bronx Science, Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech must be doing something right, having produced 8, 4 and 2 Nobel Prize winners respectively. You don’t address equality by destroying them so that the student body is more racially “appropriate”. You address equality by fixing the failing Elementary and Middle schools and raising the level of all schools so they produce more minority students that can compete for entrance to these schools.
Do you have a vision for education in America?
I believe that this question is “above my pay grade”. I am sure that there are many very qualified individuals that already have all the answers. I believe that our biggest problem are the politicians and bean counters who don’t care about the root cause nor the right solution of any problem. What drives their decisions are “Political Correctness”, “Next Week’s Poll numbers”, “Sounding/Looking Good”, “The Trend of the Month”, etc.
Do you visit Greece, how often, and where do you like to go?
I visit Greece every year, since I left back in the ‘80s. I am bringing my kids every year for 4 weeks since they were born. We have a beach house in the Northern part of the Peloponnese that we use as a base to travel around and explore the whole country. I take them to at least one Historic destination each year. Last year we were privileged to watch Mr. Leonidas Kavakos perform in Epidavros. I make sure that my kids love Greece as I am a true believer in “We have to know where you are from, to know where you are going”.
We wish Nikos all the best luck so that he can do what is best for the children of the Bronx and the Big Apple.
- Published in Greek of the Week