Archive for Monday, March 4, 1991

WOMAN SEEKING WAYS TO IMPROVE STATE EDUCATION

March 4, 1991

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— Mildred McMillon is on a personal crusade to improve the state's education system.

Re-elected in November to the state Board of Education, McMillon will continue to work toward that goal.

"Our main target is performance-based education," McMillon, 63, said. She explained that performance-based education tests students' skills throughout their school years and determines at what level of learning they should be.

A resident of Tonganoxie since 1967, McMillon has devoted 15 years to education. A former member of Tonganoxie school board, McMillon stepped down from that position in 1986 when she was elected for the first time to represent the state education board's 1st District, which includes all of Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties and parts of Jefferson County. She will help oversee the 304 unified school districts in Kansas at least until January 1995, when her term expires.

AS A MEMBER of the state board, her responsibilities include assisting the board in accrediting elementary and secondary schools, vocational-technical schools and community colleges; administering and distributing state and federal funds to local education; appointing numerous advisory councils and reviewing their recommendations, certifying teachers, administrators and school nurses; and developing standards for courses of study and curriculum.

Typically, she devotes 20-25 hours a week to state board activities.

And why did McMillon initially choose to get involved?

She said that she decided to run for a spot on the Tonganoxie school board in 1974 because, "I wanted to see the inner workings."

"It was a time when people were becoming more concerned about education."

McMillon said seeing how things worked was an education in itself.

She said she has raised two daughters and watched their education, but was glad they were fully grown when she decided to run for the board.

"I THINK I was a more objective voice because I didn't have kids in school at the time."

In addition to performance-based education, McMillon said the efforts toward a Parent and Teachers Program was a top priority. She said the program will help parents of preschool children learn to be better parents. The members of the board hope this education will better equip the parents for challenges they may face as the child gets older.

The state board is trying to secure funding for the program to begin in December 1991.

One of the state board's most pressing issues was the institution of an emergency measure for substitute teachers. Teaching vacancies were created by National Guard unit members and military reservists called to active duty in Operation Desert Storm. The measure would declare a "state of emergency" and allow substitute teachers to exceed the limit on days they can teach each year. Currently, the limit is 90 days.

UNDER federal law, when activated reservists return from military service, they are entitled to resume their regular teaching assignments.

The state board is not McMillon's only leap into education issues.

McMillon also spends time on the Confidence in Education Task Force. As a member of that group, she works with the governor to recognize outstanding high school students for their academic work. A third group, National Education Commission of States, is also part of McMillon's agenda of working toward the betterment of education.

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