Donna Craft Cain: 2023 candidate for DuPage High School District 88 board, 4-year term
Age on Election Day: 59
Previous offices held: DuPage High School District 88 board member since 2004
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: I have served on the school board since 2004. I believe that it is important to have board members who are informed and involved. I believe with my past experience I can provide the historical background of why things are done and what needs to be done. But I have always been open to finding better ways of doing things so I try to be a person stuck in the past.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: The school board sets the policy working with the administration. But the administration and teachers develop the curriculum. For example, when I first became a board member, the focus had been on having students be college ready, but now in addition to being ready for college, we are looking for opportunities to help students to become career ready through apprenticeships and certifications.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: No. Although as a district, we have always looked for ways to improve and make sure to offer a variety of opportunities for our students. Currently, we have been working on expanding our Dual Credit options so that students can graduate with transcripted college credit or have certifications to enter into the workforce.
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: As a board member, first we have to listen so that we understand the concerns and issues, gather information, examine best practices, and make decisions that are in the best interest of all students. The decisions that are made by school boards are not always popular with everyone, but I believe by taking the time to listen and have conversations, we can find common ground.
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: COVID-19 is not over, but we have learned to manage it and live with it. I believe that the best thing we can do is be informed, keep our constituents informed, and make decisions based upon the latest information that we have.
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 always tried to facilitate discussion, making sure everyone has an opportunity to be heard and to ask questions, and try to build a consensus. I believe by doing that the best decisions can be made. Sometimes it can be difficult to reach a consensus. But sometimes through those discussions, it is possible to anticipate problems that may occur and make adjustments to avoid those problems and come up with better solutions.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: Currently, I am the board member with the most experience. I have been involved in the referendum for Building the Future and the building improvement program. I have been through difficult times such as 2009 when the CPI was .01%, I have been through COVID. I have had three children go through District 88 who all had different learning styles and experiences so I understand the need for differentiated instruction and opportunities so each student can become the best person that they can be. I bring a historical perspective, but I believe I have tried to mentor new board members and share information so that we can have a strong board, but I always enjoy new perspectives and new ideas.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: Since I have been on the school board, I have seen a lot of ideas implemented such as Online PE (Independent PE), increase in Dual Credit and certifications, adjusting the calendar so that first semester is done before the winter break, adapting classes so that students from one campus can access courses at the other campus to name a few.
I would like to see more partnerships with businesses to allow for apprenticeships for students and take advantage of online opportunities that allow students to pursue individualized learning programs. (For example, if a student wanted to take a foreign language that we do not currently offer.) I also want to continue to find ways to make sure all students feel connected to the school community so no one falls through the cracks.