In November, I was the first to announce plans to run for the Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 board. Since then, I have been asked countless questions, but among the most common is this straightforward one: "Why are you running?"
My campaign brochure and website (www.mattbaron.com) offer a range of my positions, priorities, and guiding principles, but here let me share a few additional points.
Like four years ago, when I was elected to the Oak Park Public Library Board, gratitude is fueling my run. Just as I am grateful for libraries' impact on my life, I owe so much of my success to the public school teachers who taught me in my native Marshfield, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.
A further motivation: At heart, I am an educator. For six years, I assisted my wife in home-schooling our twin children before they enrolled as seventh-graders two years ago at Brooks Middle School. In my former career as a journalist, I did my best to educate readers on a broad spectrum of topics. In scores of classrooms over the last 25 years as a guest speaker, I have loved seeing the light bulb go on for youngsters as I teach on topics ranging from journalism and mathematics to leadership and team-building.
The continual refining of the educational process is compelling to me, and I respect the strong reputation that OPRF High School has built over its many years. This great institution has helped raise up generations of productive citizens who have gone on to a gamut of fruitful endeavors.
Another factor prompting my run: I want to help effect lasting, sustainable change in the community's longstanding equity gap.
Many diligent, caring people have tackled this issue for decades. This gap exists inside the walls of OPRF, as well as throughout all of Oak Park and River Forest — and beyond. I look forward to taking a more active role in reaching those who have been difficult to reach — or whom we have not succeeded in effectively figuring out how to reach.
At the same time, we must continue to challenge the top students as we prepare them for an increasingly global economy, as well as ensure that those who are in the middle — neither exceptionally strong nor struggling academically — are not lost in the shuffle. That last concern has become a refrain among parents over the years, and it's one that I take seriously.
I am passionate about helping foster an environment where excellence prevails and everyone's value is recognized and drawn out.
Positive, productive, respectful relationships are the gateway to so much good — and one of my strengths is developing meaningful relationships, regardless of others' "status."
More than ever, amid our country's tumultuous political environment, that kind of inclusivity, embracing of differences, and desire to build bridges is essential. I respectfully ask for your vote to one of the four open seats on the D200 Board of Education on April 4.
My campaign website is www.MattBaron.com. I can also be reached at 708-860-1380.