Robin S. Rowe, the Beverly Press Interview

Robin S. Rowe

Robin S. Rowe

BHUSD candidate professor Robin S. Rowe discusses the five most important issues facing Beverly Hills schools

BEVERLY HILLS, CA (robinsrowe.com) 2020/10/6 – Hope this finds you well! I’m writing a story on the upcoming Board of Education election for the Beverly Press and want to give each candidate a voice in the article.

Thank you. Appreciate you asking.

So, who am I? Who is Robin Rowe?

As a professor, I taught computer science at two universities. As a strategist and technology manager, I created innovation for many Fortune 500 companies. At Lenovo, AT&T, GoPro, DreamWorks Animation and NBC-TV.

What will I bring to our schools? Rising academic excellence, increased enrollment, living wages for teachers, increased student well-being and education innovation to overcome Distance Learning limitations. To make Beverly Hills schools great again!

During our recent debate, the Incumbent candidate urged everyone to look at his 10-year record overseeing our schools. Ok, let’s review. Ten years of crumbling school building infrastructure, our best teachers leaving, declining enrollment, falling academic ranking and the improper diversion of our education funds to other purposes.

The Incumbent says declining enrollment isn’t a problem, because fewer students to teach makes the job easier. Three-quarters of Beverly Hills students have left public schools. Academically, Beverly Hills schools don’t even rank in the top 50 of local area schools, let alone ranking nationwide. A disgrace.

When I asked the Incumbent why this is his legacy, he said it’s not his fault, that it’s been one crisis after another. He’s been overwhelmed.

I’m the candidate with professional experience in crisis management. As chief technologist of a multi-billion dollar defense company, I worked with the Department of Defense to implement the AI crisis management system installed in our nation’s military command centers. I have experience in national security and have built national critical infrastructure. Beverly Hills needs and deserves leadership skilled in crisis management.

What are the five most important issues facing BHUSD?

The five most important issues facing BHUSD are COVID, IEP, budget, abandoned oil wells and Future School.

COVID

Other School Board candidates say not to listen to scientists and doctors, that we must force teachers and children to go back to school right away. They say we can go back to normal if we accept that there will be some causalities. They would embrace a new normal, where we accept kids may be traumatized by the preventable death of a beloved teacher or their grandparents.

As a civilization, we’ve been dealing with pandemics for thousands of years. From history, we know it takes two years to defeat a pandemic. The United States was still fighting the 1918 Spanish Flu in 1920.

While we have the advantages of technology, it takes magical thinking to say we can expect a solution next week. And it takes wishful thinking to believe month after month the wild claims some politicians make that a cure is coming next week.

To make realistic plans, we have to be ready to fight COVID-19 until March of 2022. We need Future School. I’ll talk more about what that is in a moment.

IEP

IEP and 504, the Special Ed exemptions provided by child psychologists, are the school scandal that nobody is talking about yet. With a pliable IEP psychologist, anyone can game our local education system. While measures to help kids with special needs were conceived with the best intentions, teachers tell me it’s an open secret that our IEP system is full of abuse.

Ordinary children can get a Special Ed exemption, including for AP and Honors classes. They get special treatment. For example, twice as much time to take the same tests as other kids. There’s nothing to stop parents and IEP psychologists from using IEP to jump ordinary kids ahead of real honors students and consume resources meant for real special needs kids.

IEP abuse is like the Lori Loughlin school scandal, in which rich parents bought their kids fake athletic scholarships. From the Loughlin scandal, we know that a consequence of academic cheating is kids set low goals for themselves in life because they think it’s normal. While nobody likes cheaters, we should be more concerned that healthy kids can be sucked into a mental health system that may hold them back their entire lives.

Budget

My budget experience includes having Profit & Loss responsibility for two divisions and a research lab at a multi-billion dollar defense company. I’ve been a subcommittee chairman for the CFO Alliance, a national association of Chief Financial Officers.

In the age of COVID, how can it be we have classrooms in Beverly Hills schools with ventilation systems that have been broken for years? How can it be we have teachers who are don’t make enough to be able to live in our community? It’s not lack of money. We have the one of the richest school districts in the country. It’s a problem of attitude.

The School Board is management, the teachers labor. We have the money to pay teachers right, but don’t. Other candidates present themselves as ready to drive a hard bargain against teachers. I’m the only candidate who says let’s raise our teacher salaries to a living wage.

If it’s not to teachers, where does our education money go?

The School Board diverts our education funds into frivolous lawsuits. Lawsuits that they always lose. And been losing for a decade. Why has BHUSD spent $16 million on lawyers, on friends of the School Board, to delay the MTA building the Los Angeles subway? Without explaining how, opponents of the subway say they expect the subway to cause an explosion if built under the Beverly Hills High School.

Abandoned Oil Wells

Abandoned oil wells release flammable gases. Like many areas in Los Angeles, the Beverly Hills High School is built on top of an abandoned oil well. It must be monitored and managed so that gases aren’t allowed to build up and explode. That must be done whether a subway is built under the high school or not.

Opponents of the subway had expected to force the oil company to monitor the well. To avoid that responsibility, the oil company declared bankruptcy. Will never pay. BHUSD and the City of Beverly Hills are now stuck with the clean-up bill. It’s millions of dollars. More of our education funds to be diverted from our teachers and schools.

Having the subway go under the high school makes the MTA responsible for preventing an abandoned oil well explosion. The MTA is better equipped for that responsibility. The BHUSD School Board has no competence in abandoned oil well management.

The Other Candidates

Before moving to the topic of Future School, let’s take a moment to consider the experience of all the School Board candidates. They are asking we look at their experience. Does it qualify them to oversee an education budget that has hundreds of millions of dollars, to innovate in our schools and to manage teachers with compassion?

The Lawyer candidate says she will use her superior negotiating skills to drive a hard bargain against teachers. Really? Forcing teachers to work in classrooms with COVID and broken ventilation systems is not going to work. To avoid that, good teachers are already leaving, taking early early retirement.

The College Student candidate has no experience. Says he favors learning pods, a teaching solution that is widely considered elitist. Pushes kids toward private education.

The Actuary candidate has experience as an insurance salesman, not in education.

The Construction Manager candidate has experience working for real estate developers, not in education.

The IEP Psychologist candidate said during our debate that teachers should go back into schools, whether they feel safe doing so or not. Says the children are all that matter. I think children matter too, but I don’t expect teachers to risk their lives to do their job.

I believe the mental and physical health of our teachers matters. We don’t want kids traumatized by deaths in their classroom.

Future School

What is the future of school? The other candidates are trying to figure out to make 10-year-old Distance Learning technology work. Or worse, trying to find a way back to the school systems of the 1950s. They don’t have experience in advancing education. I do.

Last year, as strategist for Lenovo ThinkReality AR glasses, I worked on development of some of the most advanced educational technology in the world. I have a career of helping Fortune 500 companies solve innovation problems. I’ve seen the future in the lab. What’s coming is amazing! Collaborative AI. Visual Programming. Pairing. Outdoor Learning. And much more. Stay tuned.

Want to learn more about Future School?

On Monday nights at 7pm I host a weekly series called Future School. A brainstorm and a discussion of advances in teaching technology and techniques.

On October 21st we will have a special guest, Samantha Fuentes. She’s a Parkland school shooting survivor and a young leader offering her solutions to school gun violence. Join us! Free. Details on my website http://robinsrowe.com.

Thank you!

Robin S. Rowe is a candidate for BHUSD school board. Please vote in the November 3rd, 2020, election.