Mark J. Cramer: 2023 candidate for Township High School District 211 Board of Education
Town: Hoffman Estates
Age on Election Day: Older, vibrant citizen
Occupation: Mark Cramer was elected to the Board of Education in April 2019. Cramer is a retired U.S. Navy Commander, who served on active duty for 21 years, from June 1971 until October 1992. A naval aviator, he was an aircraft commander flying the H-46 helicopter for land and at sea operations including day/night allweather resupply, personnel transport, and search and rescue missions. He served in significant leadership, operational, and senior staff assignments during his career. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Medal for outstanding leadership, exceptional administrative ability, and personal initiative. Cramer's post-military career included positions in fundraising for nonprofit agencies providing services ranging from homeless shelters, child protection, adult residential, and developmentally disabled services, and 10 years as an information technology programmer/analyst, database administrator, and project manager with two fortune 500 companies. Cramer is a 1967 graduate of Conant High School and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the parent of two Hoffman Estates High School graduates. He serves as board liaison on the following committees: Administrative Policy Group and the Booster Club
Employer: Actively "retired"
Previous offices held: Trustee of schools
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: To provide the perspective of my life experiences and leadership as a Navy Officer, fundraiser for social service agencies, and in corporate America which guide me in governance of the largest high school district in Illinois. I am an incumbent.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: The BOE reviews curriculum change recommendations provided by the administration three times a year and votes YES/NO on recommendations for changes, text books and supplemental material.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: Opting in to SB818 "National Sex Education Standards" (NSES). Over 200 emails were received from citizens about the administration's opting in, 90% opposed. Over 200 people attended the November 2022 meeting providing public comments prior to the vote; 90% opposed. I voted "No." I vote yes or no by understanding the issue as much as possible and asking questions during debate. I never denigrate individuals or community for their opinions, values and beliefs. Most of the BOE members do much the same. Except one, Kim Cavill made statements offensive and condescending to constituents opposed to D211 implementing NSES, oversimplifying the contents of NSES, and ignoring government overreach that is still in motion requiring that all schools implement the curriculum with no opting out, Cavill: "Instead of wasting time correcting ... why the hysteria ... these standards acknowledge the existence of queer and transgender people ... that's why we are witnessing a giant hissy fit."
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: I am on the Policy Group review "team." The BOE is responsible for policies not the state authorities; however, when laws are changed via due process, the BOE is required to comply. There was never a law requiring universal masking; the BOE was scheduled to hear public comment and vote yes/no on implementing the administration's "mask recommended" policy in August 2021 at a Special BOE meeting. This meeting was abruptly canceled unilaterally by the superintendent and BOE president. It is important to understand that normally proposed policies are read at two consecutive BOE meetings where BOE members and citizens may provide comment and/or discussion. At the third successive BOE, the proposed policy is voted on. The proposed policy is posted in each BOE official notice of the meeting and agenda. Public comments can be made at each of the three meetings before a BOE vote. See previous Q&A for curriculum "issues."
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: Decisions made at the federal, state, and local level are often contradictory, political and controversial. From the mask mandate lawsuit, which resulted in dropping the mandate, we learned that in cases where the is no applicable law the BOE is fully responsible. The buck stops here.
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: "Agreement" is by BOE vote. It is unrealistic to expect consensus on major issues with the current 5-2 makeup of the BOE.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: Proven track record of exemplary leadership, community service, and experience
Husband, father, veteran
Experienced in business and nonprofit organizations
Invested in community
Proven record of honest service to community and country
Highest level of integrity and ethics
We must ensure students' needs are met, no matter their chosen path: College, skilled trades, military, workforce, fine arts, community service. Dedicated to maintaining affordability to live in the D211 area, through fair taxation. All community voices need to be heard when decisions are made that affect our community and our schools. Advocate for increased transparency. Parents matter. Retired U.S. Navy Commander, and Naval Aviator, 21 years active duty. Awarded the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service. Post-military: Fundraising for not-for-profit agencies providing homeless shelters, child protection, developmentally disabled services. IT programmer/analyst, database administrator, project manager.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: Though not a unique idea, I would welcome a Student Senate body to D211 and student representation at the BOE table. Conceptually, students at each of the five high schools would elect one Student Senator and an alternate. The five Student Senator's would elect a president, vice president, and secretary. The five alternate senators would do the same. Meetings of the Senate body would rotate among each school after the normal school day. Alternate Senators would be encouraged to attend when not an acting Student Senator. The Student Senate body would choose who would attend the board of education meetings. The attending Student Senator (or alternate) would be seated at the BOE table, however, not take part in closed session.