Editor’s note: This statement was provided by Ian Rowe.
Dear Pelham Families, Friends and Neighbors,
I hope that you are doing well during these tumultuous times. My name is Ian Rowe. My wife Sylvia and I have been residents of Pelham since 2012, and we have two school-age children, Oscar (9) and Camille (11), and a pandemic puppy, Cosmo.
Like many of us, we moved our family to Pelham because of the quality of the public school system, the high expectations its leadership holds for all students and faculty, and its track record of a high graduation rate with more than 97% attending college. I am inspired by the Pelham mission statement, “Inspiring a Standard of Excellence for All Students”
Given my commitment to fulfill that mission for all Pelham kids, I am honored to announce my candidacy to become a member of the Pelham Board of Education. For the last decade (from 2010-2020), I was CEO of Public Prep, a non-profit network of elementary and middle public charter schools in the heart of the South Bronx and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. As the nation’s oldest network of PreK and single-sex elementary and middle schools, Public Prep currently educates more than 2,000 scholars PreK-8 across five campuses. Public Prep alumni now attend some of the finest public, private and parochial high schools, and top colleges and universities.
I am now co-founding and launching Vertex Partnership Academies, a first-of-its-kind network of character-based, International Baccalaureate public charter high schools, grounded in the four cardinal virtues of Courage, Justice, Temperance and Wisdom, scheduled to open in the Bronx in 2022.
I share this background of some of my professional experience because it would be deeply relevant to a potential role as School Board member, especially as Pelham continues to work with the International Baccalaureate model. Having run a network of schools with a comparable footprint and budget to Pelham, I understand all the tradeoffs that must constantly be balanced to deliver an exceptional education for students from a range of socioeconomic and racial backgrounds, and with a variety of special learning needs. In addition to the expertise I can offer to assist and provide oversight to Pelham school leaders to deliver on our mission, I also want to outline these additional areas of support:
Safe Re-Opening – Because of the closure of schools and the prolonged absence of in-person instruction, it is highly likely that many of our Pelham students have suffered academic, social/emotional and other setbacks. Because of my role as an educational leader over the last decade, I have built deep relationships with outstanding Superintendents, Principals and Heads of private, parochial and public schools in NYC and across the country, who have safely re-opened their schools, and are deploying best practices to deliver five-day a week, in-person instruction. In addition, because of my role as a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, I have access to the leading experts in the country as well as the latest research and science on the pandemic that can be brought to bear on how we make local decisions in Pelham.
Equity Audit – I recently published a critique of the Equity Audit that was commissioned by Pelham schools. I did so to point out what I see as the painfully obvious and serious flaws with the audit’s methodology and its deliberate exclusion and manipulation of data to fit its author’s pre-ordained conclusions and perpetuation of negative racial stereotypes. That is why it is important that we as Pelham parents, and one Pelham community, fully understand what is at stake with the next steps related to this Equity Audit. Pelham is not immune to the ills of our world. When acts of racism and other discrimination occur, let’s firmly fight that bigotry without spreading further bigotry. Let’s not demonize each other by reducing our neighbors to nothing more than their race or gender “identity.” I believe that there is a shared goal in our community to address racial disparities, but we must ensure that the primary gap that we are addressing is between current outcomes and 100% achievement, not merely “racial equity” to create equal outcomes by race, as opposed to excellence for all.
Facilities – Quality of the physical learning environment can add or detract from the academic learning environment. That is why I was proud to play an active role in the effort in 2018 when Pelham approved major capital projects in a bond referendum, including the construction of a new Hutchinson School, and upgrades to the Prospect Hill school and athletic facilities. I recently oversaw the $30 million renovation of a dilapidated 55,000 sq ft Bronx warehouse into what is now a five-story, 85,000 sq ft building that is the permanent home of Boys Prep Bronx, and that you can see on Metro North on your way into NYC. As Pelham considers future facilities enhancements, this is an area of expertise that can be helpful.
In closing, I humbly ask for your vote on May 18, 2021 to serve on the Pelham Board of Education and to fulfill the mission to Inspire a Standard of Excellence for All Students. Improving outcomes for all kids requires an understanding of the habits of excellence practiced by faculty, parents and students, and then replicating that for all students. A sustained focus on excellence is also what will attract talented teachers of all races to our schools. I am hopeful we can come together and critically define “anti-racism” and “equity” in Pelham as a form of humanism that affords every student and faculty member an individual dignity and a belief that they can achieve at the highest level and thrive in our community and schools.
I look forward to working together, and ask for your support of my candidacy. Please text, email or call me with any questions or suggestions.
Ian V. Rowe
623 Francis Street