The old adage “You can’t please everybody” is probably more apt than ever. In a perfect world, Mike McMillan would be running for reelection to the Knox County Board of Education without opposition. Instead, he has a couple of opponents in the forthcoming primary.
Whatever the standard for electing someone to the board of education, Mike McMillan meets that standard and then some. McMillan was the original opponent of then-superintendent Jim McIntyre who ran the Knox County school system like the emperor from Star Wars. McIntyre, with no experience as a superintendent before he got to Knoxville, ran roughshod over custodians and employees, all the while spending to expand the bureaucracy. Mike McMillan was the first member of the board to stand up to Jim McIntyre; it was Mike McMillan who was the first to announce his opposition to out-sourcing the custodians.
Slow and steady, McMillan has pushed and prodded along projects that should mean everything to the students, parents and educators inside the 8th District. As now-Congressman Tim Burchett repeatedly acknowledged while he was county mayor, there would not be a Gibbs Middle School without Mike McMillan. McMillan also deserves the credit for the new Carter Elementary School and the improvements at Carter Middle School. It was Mike McMillan who made it possible for the gymnasium at Gibbs Elementary School to be named for beloved educator Larry Graham.
It was Mike McMillan who almost single-handedly saved the Career Magnet Academy, which is located in Strawberry Plains. The school administration was prepared to close the Career Magnet Academy, bringing a defiant McMillan to charge that the school system had spent millions of tax dollars upon the CMA and never adequately supported it. McMillan encouraged the students attending the Career Magnet Academy and they came from all across the county to stand up and speak out in support of the Career Magnet Academy. Some of the most compelling testimony ever heard at a school board meeting came from those students, many of whom readily admitted their lack of interest in school before attending the Career Magnet Academy and what THEIR school meant to them. McMillan answered every individual email sent to him by the students at the Career Magnet Academy and congratulated them for fighting for their school. The board rejected the recommendation of the superintendent to close the Career Magnet Academy and nobody deserves more thanks than Mike McMillan.
McMillan has fought for and supported choice for parents, reasonable evaluations for educators, seeing to it that our community gets its fair share. McMillan has truly given voice to a community that was seldom heard before. There is not a shadow or particle of a doubt Mike McMillan has made a real long term difference for the 8th District.
Still, there are those who have their own personal axes to grind – – – little Johnny didn’t make the team, Sally Sue didn’t make the cheerleading squad. I reckon there’ll always be the sore thumb sticking out somewhere with a complaint, but Mike McMillan has tended to the needs of the 8th District faithfully. McMillan has represented the taxpayers and his district and gotten real results, benefitting all of us. Isn’t that what our elected officials are supposed to do?