Dr. Matthew Fuller: Passion That Counts

Leah Mock, Author

Dr. Matthew Fuller sits in the Texas State Capitol before the Texas House Committee on Public Education. Thirty five school safety House bills are up for discussion. With 20 years of experience in education, Fuller passionately offers his advice to the legislature, addressing 36 bills in under two minutes.

Fuller is running for MISD Board, position 6. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s in Biology and a Master’s in Educational Administration and Human Resources, then earned his Doctorate in Educational Administration and Foundations from Illinois University. Fuller is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Sam Houston State University.

“About 3 or 4 years ago, I started noticing that some of the tried-and-true services that my family really liked, especially at the elementary level, were starting to be pulled back,” Fuller said. “My family and I no longer had some of the services we moved here and stayed here for. That was the first time I ever thought the school board might be someplace I could chip in and help the community.”

At Sam Houston State University, Fuller teaches classes and conducts research on educational law, finance, assessment, history, ethics, educational research methods and safety.

“I have a background in law, and I’ve written 19 letters for students going to their immigration interview,” Fuller said. “One of my greatest achievements is that all 19 of these kids are now citizens.”

In addition, he has reviewed the FBI case files from all of the school shootings from the United States and Norway since 1974.

“Safety is a major concern,” Fuller said. “I don’t think guns are a solution. The solution rests in our hearts. I think Chief Reynolds and his team do a great job. They need to continue the good work they are doing in that area.”

According to Superintendent Beau Rees, the district is running a 5 million dollar deficit for the 2018-2019 school year. Fuller said that because of the fiscal situation, he doesn’t think the district will be ready to concentrate on growing its service programs for another couple of years.

“I think the finances are a significant challenge,” Fuller said. “One of the best policies our school district has implemented is our fiscal spending approach. We’re pretty conservative. We look at every dime, and we need to continue to do that. Once we are ‘in the black’, it’s all about prioritizing curriculum programs and hiring more staff to grow these programs.”

Fuller agreed that new programs, such as the Cosmetology program or other workforce programs, should be more affordable.

“We shouldn’t be forcing college onto kids with the unchecked assumption that college is right for everyone,” Fuller said. “We should provide students with the opportunity to go right into the workforce after high school. However, an opportunity that’s not affordable is not an opportunity at all.”

Fuller specified how the budget cuts were affecting staff in the district, notably the hiring freeze.

“The budget deficit has put us into some tough spots,” Fuller said. “We have to ask our teachers to do more with less. We need to start thinking about ways to help our teachers. I want them to know that the board really cares about their perspective and wants their input.”

Likewise, Fuller said he wants to advocate for increased community involvement in the board meetings. He also said he wants the board members to listen to the concerns of parents.

“The board needs to be active and perceptive of the needs of teachers and students,” Fuller said. “We need to be open to all members of the community, not just our particular constituents, and we need to seek active decision-making.”

Like most other candidates for school board, Fuller’s family is connected to the district. His wife is a district employee, and his sons attend Lincoln Elementary.

“What sets me apart from my colleagues is that my relationship with my spouse is separate from education,” Fuller said. “We don’t really talk about work very much. We try to keep everything in balance. That being said, the school board member must be impartial, separate, and independent. We can’t share what happens in closed session.”

Ultimately, Fuller said the students and teachers are his priority.

“I would hope that the students of Montgomery High School to see my passion, that I care, that I’m going to work non-stop for the students and the teachers,” Fuller said. “I am excited to see what’s next in Montgomery’s future and hope to play a vital part in shaping the best future for our children and our community as a member of the MISD school board.”