U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander urges education policymakers to adopt education plan which will work for Kentucky

09/12/2016 04:33 PM

FRANKFORT – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told members of the Interim Joint Committee on Education Monday that they have a great opportunity to reshape Kentucky’s K though 12 education system to make for a more prosperous future for the students as well as the state as a whole with the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Alexander gave an overview of ESSA, a federal mandate which was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, which replaces No Child Left Behind, signed by President George W. Bush in 2002.

Alexander’s message to committee members was that ESSA reverses the trend toward a national school board and makes it clear that, in the future, the path to higher standards, better teaching and real accountability will be through the states, communities and classrooms and not Washington D.C.

Alexander pointed out the numerous federal regulations from No Child Left Behind, which were widely criticized in the education community that are not part of ESSA, including Common Core.

“Since last December, there’s been no federal requirement that Kentucky have Common Core as its academic standard,” Alexander said. “That’s up to you going forward. You can have Common Core, uncommon core, half or common core, no common core, that’s your business.”

Alexander noted that one of the downfalls of No Child Left Behind was the backlash from states and local school districts about mandates sent down from the federal government which were met with resentment.

“If Washington says that you’ve got to have these standards, and these tests, and you’ve got to evaluate teachers these ways, people buck up, they don’t like it,” Alexander said. “Kentucky needs to develop its own standards.”

Moving forward, Alexander suggests that he likes the way Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt is going about getting feedback from a number of stakeholders before putting together an effective plan.

“Instead of saying we’re going to go out and do it exactly the way I want to do it, he’s asking the teachers and school board members what they think,” Alexander said. “A, you might get some good advice, and second, they’re more likely to do it if the result is something that they had some participation in.”

Senate President Robert Stivers, who brought Alexander to Frankfort to testify, confirmed that Senate Bill 1 will again be the legislation bringing Kentucky’s educational standards into compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Stivers says the most important item about ESSA is the fact that it puts most of the regulations under state and local control.

“That, which works in Massachusetts, or Idaho, or California, or New York, may not necessarily work in Kentucky,” Stivers said. “You have different demographics, you have different geographics, and you have different accesses to technologies and experiences.”

About Don Weber

Don Weber joined cn|2 when it launched back in May 2010 and soon became a reporter for Pure Politics. He is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University and has spent many years covering everything from politics to sports. Don says he loves meeting new people everyday as part of his job and also enjoys the fact that no two days are the same when he comes to work. Don Weber can be reached at donald.weber@twcnews.com.



  • Heza Putz wrote on September 13, 2016 09:55 AM :

    For over two hundred years this country had no federal Department of Education, which now costs 80 Billion dollars per year. How we doin’?

  • viewer wrote on September 14, 2016 08:58 AM :

    If this is going to be SB1, for the 2017 session, Sen. Mike Wilson and Sen. Max Wise need to be going around the state talking to educators, school boards, and parents to inform and get more input for the final draft of this bill.

    I understand that these members of the General Assembly are part-time. I get that. Education is the most important issue facing this state today. To make big reforms to our education system, it cannot just be thrown together and passed with no discussion or input from everyone invested around the state. I am a big fan of Sen. Max Wise. I have heard him speak several times on education issues. If Sen. Wilson and Sen. Wise could team up and work this bill in partnership, I think it would go along way in the final bill. In the end it isn’t about just passing something, it is passing the right something.

    The bipartisan back and forth, at this education hearing, was refreshing. I even liked what I heard coming from Rep. Derrick Graham. In truth, neither party has all the answers and neither party is wrong all of the time. Elections and political propaganda, too often, hurts the process by neither wanting to work together. One side wants all the credit. If Sen. Wilson and Rep. Graham could team up on some of these meetings around the state, that would be a plus because in the end it doesn’t matter if you are a democrat or republican. Lack of education and lack of opportunities is hurting our youth’s future. The viewer.

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