Now more than ever, the state needs to support education with funding, a longtime member of the State Board of Education said.
When Mildred McMillon began serving on the Tonganoxie school board 24 years ago, there were few, if any, computers in the schools, and no one had heard of the acronym "QPA."
Since then, McMillon said, a lot has changed.
"I've seen a lot of tightening; they're requiring a lot more academic success," she said. "It just seems expectations have changed. I just think there's more accountability now."
Mrs. McMillon, 71, last week retired from the Kansas State Board of Education the Tonganoxie school board.
A self-described "moderate" on the state board, which has been divided in recent years among moderates and conservatives, Mrs. McMillon said state support of education is needed now more than ever.
"I personally think that, as our economy has grown, the government has not kept pace with the support of public schools," she said.
Mrs. McMillon said that as more parents have had to enter the work force, public schools have received a growing amount of undeserved criticism for their inability to solve problems with limited support.
"We're not a horse-and-buggy society anymore," she said. "I think the government has not provided enough resources to support schools, so consequently it has gotten watered down.
"They have got to start putting more into the education of children than they have ever done in the past ... because parents are working."
Mrs. McMillon said that, unlike in the past, schools are expected to play the role of parents.
"It's understandable, because a lot of kids don't have parents at home," she said.
Mrs. McMillon said the state could best help local districts and students by increasing its current $3,720 per pupil funding base.
"The more money they put in categorical aids like special education, nutrition and a whole list of others, it can only be used for that purpose," she said. "That is why you hear about so many of the school districts hurting ... because their general fund doesn't have enough to do the things they want to do."
Mrs. McMillon will be honored by the Tonganoxie district for her services at an academic excellence banquet at 7 p.m. March 30 in the Kansas Union Ballroom at Kansas University.
"I just think she's been a wonderful board member on the state board. ... In bringing about the progressive change with the QPA ... she has really worked hard," said Tonganoxie Supt. Richard Erickson.
QPA stands for Quality Performance Accreditation. Under its standards, each district sets annual goals for student achievement -- a concept Mrs. McMillon has supported.
"I just really appreciate the initiatives and the accountability measures that have been approved and supported by her," Erickson said.
-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.