For Christina School Board
Hello! I'm Douglas Danger Manley (yes, Danger is my middle name 😉), and I'll be on the Christina School Board starting in July of 2023. I've lived in Christina School District for my entire adult life, and I currently live in Cotswold Hills.
I have a history of community service. I’ve been a firefighter with Mill Creek Fire Company for 10 years, on the board there for the past 3 years, and I’m currently serving as president, where I help to ensure that we provide the excellent life-saving and property-preservation services that our community deserves. On the board, I've managed the company's almost $4M yearly budget, dealing with salaries, facilities, operations, and administration.
I've also been on the boards of the Green Valley Civic Association and Cotswold Hills Maintenance Corporation.
Other than community service, my background is in software engineering. I think logically and holistically, focusing on systems design and the complicated interworkings of numerous subsystems. Whether it's an all-hands-on-deck software emergency on a production system or a two-alarm fire in the middle of the night, I'm calm under pressure and work well with a diverse group of individuals to accomplish a goal.
My mission for Christina is simple: ensure that the district is providing a quality education to all of the students in the district. They deserve it, and they are entitled to it by the Delaware constitution.
Moms Demand Action is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence, and I'm proud to be a 2023 Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate!
This special distinction lets voters know which candidates will champion gun safety and advocate for safer communities and stronger gun laws (and I'm one of those candidates). There's no reason for anyone to be gunned down in this nation, especially not our children and students, who are just trying to learn at school.
I will work to reduce gun violence in our schools by supporting measures to get the guns out of our schools, to address the root causes of violence in our communities, and to make our schools the safe and welcoming places that they should be.
I'll Vote My Values
We can talk for hours about specific issues (and I'm happy to do it!), but it's important to understand that I'm going to vote in line with my values. Once elected, I'll be representing you and advocating for the children and students in Christina School District for the next four years. You should get to know me.
The children come first
The purpose of the very existence of Christina School District is to serve the children and students within that district. When asked to choose between the health and well-being of the children in district and literally anything else, the children come first.
Teachers truly make a difference
Teachers are truly essential workers and play a crucial role in the raising of our children. "Teaching" is only one part of the monumental task with which they are entrusted, which includes socializing children (learning to work with and around other people), counseling them (teachers are key trusted adults in a child's life), encouraging them (being a kid is hard, and teachers help children navigate their rapidly changing world), as well as being wildly creative (teachers are asked to do a lot with very limited resources, in an environment that can vary wildly day by day).
Everyone deserves a union
Unions are about more than just collective bargaining (which is great); a union provides a place for workers to get together, talk together, and work together to improve their collective situation. A union provides workers with a group of people in a similar situation who all have each other's back, and that's great.
Data drives decisions
Anecdotes and opinions are fine things to have, but they're not a great way to make decisions. Any meaningful goal must be measurable, and that means that we'll need good data. With good data, we can see the impacts of our actions, verify that they are meeting our goals, and, if not, make appropriate corrections to ensure that we get the outcomes that we want. I'll be using data to make decisions, and when we don't have data, I'll be pushing to make sure that we get some. With our children's future on the line, we can't afford to be winging it.
What I Bring To The Board
An engineering mindset
As a software engineer, I'm data-driven. It's important to construct goals in such a way that we can know (1) if we've reached them and (2) which direction we're heading. Policies without a feedback mechanism can't be measured and thus can't be improved. It's important to isolate variables when making changes, and conducting small experiments is one way to quickly find out if an approach is viable and if it works, and we can learn from that and move to make more systemic improvements with that knowledge.
I'm used to dealing with rapidly changing (and conflicting) sets of requirements, distilling them down into meaningful pieces, and tackling them one at a time in order to get the job done. It's always important to understand the reason for things, not just the text or the initial ask. Once you understand the reason, you can make good decisions that get you closer to your goal at every twist and turn.
A community-focused approach
I don't have any children, and I know that for a lot of people in my position, the school district is distant and cold at best, if we have any interactions with it at all. Schooling is a huge part of the lives of every child who hasn't finished high school yet; it's a huge part of the lives of all of the families of those children; and it provides employment for many residents of the district. I recognize that, as corny as it sounds, the children are our future, and if we want to have good, strong neighborhoods, towns, and cities in Delaware, then we need to ensure that we're taking care of the children who grow up here, that we help make them successful, and that we prepare them for adulthood.
I want to help this district involve more people than just the parents to children currently attending school here. I want to see everyone at least invested in the success of our children here, even if they are not directly impacted. That's the meaning of community.
A firefighter's calm under pressure
Whatever could possibly happen on the school board, I assure you that it can't be anywhere near as scary, as stressful, or as difficult as heading into a burning building. When you have experiences like that, it really helps to put everything else in perspective. As bad as you can imagine a school board meeting being, as much pressure as you can imaging pouring in through calls, texts, e-mails, and public appearances, none of that is as alarming, is as immediate, as a true emergency happening to someone on the worst day of their life, trapped in a burning building with their loved ones. I'll stand up for the children in this district and the teachers who support them, and I won't back down.
The Delaware ACLU aims to "preserve and advance civil liberties and civil rights in the State of Delaware." If you're interested in seeing my answers to the ACLU's questions, you can see them here.
Non-Partisan Delaware's nonpartisande.org
Non-Partisan Delaware aims to "promote policies that protect the rights of Delaware residents and offer them the most opportunity to provide for themselves and their families." If you're interested in seeing my answers to Non-Partisan Delaware's questions, you can see them here.
The League of Women Voters' vote411.org
The League of Women Voters "encourages informed and active participation in government," and they have a site where you can compare the candidates for any race. If you'd like to see my answers to their questions, you can see them here.
Citizens For Delaware Schools' citizens4delawareschools.org
Citizens For Delaware Schools aims to "seek out School Board candidates who support policies that will provide an educational curriculum beneficial to all students in a safe, supportive environment." If you'd like to see my answers to their questions, you can see them here.
Sussex Pride's LGBTQ+ questions
Sussex Pride works to "celebrate, strengthen,and support the LGBTQ+ community in Sussex County and the state of Delaware, working through a social justice lens". They asked all of the candidates about their thoughts on a few questions , and you can see all of our answers here.
In The Media
May 10, 2023
Newark Post published an article about the outcome of the Christina School Board race. The article noted that turnout, while still extremely low by any standard, was the highest that it's been in 15 years.
“I think the parents, teachers and residents of the Christina School District have sent a message very clearly that we don't want any of the nonsense we're seeing with the right-wing conservative movement stuff. We don't want any of that in Delaware,” Manley said Tuesday night.
He said he knew that the partisanship that has engulfed school board elections around the country would be coming to Delaware at some point, and that is part of why he ran.
May 5, 2023
Highlands bunker dedicated the end of their episode on cannabis legalization to the school board races, focusing on my race in particular. The school board part starts at 56:05, so if you can jump right to that timestamp for the school board part.
May 4, 2023
Newark Post published an article about the Christina School Board race. This article notes the "unusually partisan" aspect of this year's election and outlines which groups have endorsed which candidates.
“We’re seeing the local version of the trend that’s been happening nationally, with school boards becoming ideological battlegrounds,” said David Redlawsk, a University of Delaware political science professor and Newark resident.
Meanwhile, Manley and Lou have both been endorsed by a wide range of Democratic politicians and groups, including State Rep. Paul Baumbach, State Rep. Eric Morrison, the gun control group Moms Demand Action and the LGBT advocacy group Delaware Stonewall PAC. Manley was also endorsed by the Delaware Democratic Socialists of America.
Delaware Online published an article about all of the candidates running in New Castle County. It also noted that school board meetings have "become battlegrounds for political issues all across the country" and have now made it to local elections in Delaware.
[Manley] shared his focus on supporting resources for Christina School District, sharpening communication and community engagement. He also said protecting students will be a priority, especially gay or transgender children — but he hopes the district “focuses on its mission of education and doesn't get lost in the mire” of various culture wars.
April 7, 2023
On April 5, I went down to the Highlands Bunker ("in the shadow of Rockford Tower") to chat with Rob and the crew there about running for school board, my Delaware roots, and answer any questions that they had for me. The episode dropped on April 7. It was a good conversation, and if you'd like to listen, you can find it here.
Christina School Board candidate Doug Danger Manley joins Rob in the bunker to talk about some of the things that are (literally) broken in Delaware education and his priorities in running for school board. Then, a preview of some more upcoming trial coverage.
March 31, 2023
Newark Post published an article about the Christina School Board race. It goes into detail on some of the "hot button" questions that were asked at the March 23 candidate forum at Glasgow High School.
One questioner asked the candidates about nationwide efforts by mostly conservative parents to ban certain books from classrooms.
Manley said school board members are not there to micromanage classrooms or second-guess teachers.
“This is the kind of fear mongering that got me to run in the first place,” he said. “Books don't magically appear inside schools and libraries, they don't get little legs, they don't walk in and hide in the bookshelves. Somebody put a book in there. That somebody is a qualified teacher or librarian who has a valid use case.”
Another audience member asked if the district should have a policy affirming the rights and full inclusion of LGBTQ students.
Manley said he emphatically supports a policy affirming LGBTQ rights.
“It is appalling how this country is attacking children who are just a little bit different. There is no normal. We are all human beings. We are all wildly different. It is a miracle at all that a collection of trillions of cells somehow made this,” he said. “Of course I support our LGBT brothers and sisters. This should go without saying and the fact that it has to go with saying disgusts me. The modern obsession with children's genitals is appalling.”