One of Missouri’s top education leaders is preparing to step aside. The Missouri School Boards Association’s long-time Executive Director, Carter Ward, will step aside about a year from now after 42 years with the association, 22 of those years as its leader.

He says the increased commitments in accountability are some of the biggest changes he has witnessed, not only in what’s been taught but the intensity of demand by society to improve the overall quality of education. Ward recalls the highest math course high school students could take when he was a math teacher in Camdenton was trigonometry. Today, he says, some students test out of two or more years of college calculus.

While expectations for students have increased, expectations of school board members have increased, too. He says many board members spend many hours a week keeping up on the latest trends in education. But Ward says the political polarization of the nation has hit school boards too. And sometimes that means children get lost.

“Unfortunately we have people running today for school boards who are more interested in tax policy than they are about children,” he says, “And that was obviously never meant to be. The board of education as the name implies is about children and about providing a high quality public education.”

In the end, Ward says, the policy decisions made by local school boards must remain focused on the best service that can be given to the children of the district.

AUDIO: Ward interview 27:33