Matthew Doubleday: 2023 candidate for Park Ridge-Niles District 64 School Board, 4-year term
Town: Park Ridge
Age on Election Day: 52
Occupation: Marketing and business strategy consultant
Employer: Self-employed -- Creative Advisors
Previous offices held: None
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
A: This is my first time running for elected office. I am not motivated by any one issue. I am driven by a desire to serve. I have spent most of my adult life serving on nonprofit boards that serve most of Chiacgoland. I want to serve closer to home. My three sons have all been D64 students. One still is. I would like to give back to the organization that gave so much to them. Our local schools are a huge part of our community and integral to why we moved here and why we stay. We're in danger of losing what we have. A vocal minority is committed to politicizing our children's education. This group is running off high quality educators and administrators, endangering our entire district. My philosophy is simple -- we hire professional educators and administrators. We need to let them do their jobs, free of political agenda and invented cultural conflict. Let the teachers teach, parents parent and the students learn.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: The job of a school board is similar to the boards for nonprofits or even corporations -- governance, guidance and financial supervision. The board should set performance goals and allow the professionals to manage the day to day needs of educating our children, that includes setting curriculum.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: The biggest issue the board faces is how to best empower our educators, administrators and staff to give them the freedom to continue to provide best in class education to our children, while listening to the concerns of the community.
Q: How do you view your role in confronting policy or curriculum controversies: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?
A: This is a difficult question to answer as each situation will be different. Each of these three options are viable, depending on the specific issue. There are state and federal guidelines we have to follow. As elected members of the board, it is our job to provide leadership and a voice to all constituents. All while understanding that the first job of the board and district is to educate our students.
Q: Indecisiveness on the board held up decisions on important projects, including all-day kindergarten and building expansions? What would you do to end those logjams and delays and to get the board making the decisions it needs to make in timely fashion?
A: An elected board is a legislative body, with differing viewpoints. Sometimes those viewpoints can be far enough apart that things don't get done. We have certainly seen this at all level of government, where the U.S. Congress, Illinois Legislature, our city council or our school board. Every member of the board needs to remember their job -- to enable the district to best educate the children of our community. If specific debates or viewpoints prevent the board from performing that duty, then they have to be addressed. I have built a career and a lifetime of nonprofit board service by working well with others, regardless of differences, and building consensus to get things done.
Q: The community and board have been at odds about COVID policies, especially masking. If the pandemic worsens, those rules could return. Did you support the state-mandated orders that students should be masked on campus and practice social distancing? Why or why not?
A: I feel the need to address this first statement. Most of the community WAS NOT at odds with the district and board over COVID mitigation strategies. A small, very vocal, minority was at odds with the district, not the community. The district followed the guidelines set by the state and the CDC. These guidelines were developed using the best information available at the time. I supported (and continue to support) following the COVID mitigation strategies recommended by the state's public health professionals.
Q: Concerns are growing regarding a new resurgence of the pandemic. If another massive outbreak of infectious disease occurs, what have we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that will guide your decision making?
A: The biggest lesson that we all learned is that politics and emotions make for poor public health and educational decisions. My decision will be to follow the guidance provided by state and federal public health professionals.
Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage school district policy? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your school board.
A: I have worked on nonprofit boards and led diverse teams for more than 20 years. Ultimately, everyone has to understand the goals, vision and mission of the organization. I look at everything facing the organization through that lens. If something does help us move toward that mission, then we stop it. If there is something preventing us from accomplishing the mission, we have to work through. I have always believed in building a consensus within the group to get thing done. Part of that is reminding everyone of the mission and listening to their view on accomplishing it. D64's mission is to help our students "discover, grow, learn and care." Board members should look at everything throughout that lens. As a member of the board, I will do what I have always done, listen, focus on the mission and build a consensus.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I bring to the board: A deep passion for this community and its schools and a strong desire to give back; proven leadership and organizational skills; a collaborative working and management style; communications and public speaking expertise, including the ability to communicate complex subjects to diverse audiences; strong relationships with local media, nonprofits, community groups, innovation organizations and local businesses; considerable nonprofit board experience with leadership of development and finance committees; an understanding that there is a steep learning curve for me to become a contributing member of the board; and a desire to empower our educational professionals to allow them to provide the best possible education for our children.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: I don't know that this counts as "one good idea" or simply a general philosophy -- We hire professionals for a reason. They are experts in their field. And know that field better than we do. We go to a doctor (often a specialized one) when we're sick. We hire architects and engineers to build our homes and offices. We hire police officers and firefighters to protect us, our families and our property. Why would we hire professional educators and administrators and not let them do their jobs? Let teachers teach, parents parent, and students learn.