Commonwealth of Kentucky
Senate Majority Republican Leadership

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Cox

FRANKFORT, Ky. (September 7, 2016) – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), chairman of the U.S. Senate’s education committee and primary author of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), will join the Interim Joint Committee on Education in Frankfort on Monday, September 12, to discuss the new education law and outline the opportunities and implications for Kentucky’s General Assembly to realign education policy in the state. The meeting is slated to begin at 10 a.m. EDT and Sen. Alexander is expected to give his presentation at approximately 11 a.m. local time.

“Senator Alexander has been a leader on education reform as Governor of Tennessee, as U.S. Education Secretary, and as a United States Senator,” said Senator Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green), who will chair the September 12 Education meeting. “Through Senator Alexander’s intellect and persuasive nature, he attracted support from the National Education Association in his efforts to reduce Federal overreach in our schools. We share a similar view that individual states should be the ones determining the best academic standards, state assessments, and accountability as well as teaching methods for their students.”

Alexander’s testimony will cover the provisions of a new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind Act.

“We are excited to welcome this high-profile guest to Frankfort to lead a discussion that is long overdue,” Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) said. “I admire Senator Alexander for his commitment to strengthening education across the United States, and I appreciate him for taking the time to address this committee.”

In 2016, the nation’s governors created the James Madison Award to recognize members of Congress who support federalism and the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing states’ rights. The governors named Sen. Lamar Alexander as the first-ever recipient of the award for his work to fix No Child Left Behind. The new education law Alexander worked to pass was signed by the president in December 2015. The Wall Street Journal called it “the largest devolution of federal power to the states in a quarter century.”

In 2013, the National Conference of State Legislatures gave Sen. Alexander and three other senators its “Restoring the Balance” Award for protecting states’ rights, the first time in 10 years the organization gave this award to U.S. senators.

Alexander, a seventh-generation Tennessean born and raised in Maryville, was twice elected governor of Tennessee. He has always believed that in most cases the best decisions are made by those closest to the people.

Today, Alexander chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where he is working on legislation to bring safe drugs and medical devices to doctors’ offices and patients’ medicine cabinets more quickly.

Alexander is also chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, where he works to boost funding for basic energy research and invest in our inland waterways and harbors.

Alexander was first elected to the Senate in 2002 and has been reelected twice. His Republican colleagues elected him three times to be chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

He has previously served as president of the University of Tennessee and as U.S. Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush.

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For Immediate Release
February 24, 2016
Contact: John Cox


Based on consistent messages from Kentucky public school educators, this is not a time to halt or apply the brakes on adopting Senate Bill (SB) 1, but a time to step on the accelerator.  Since 2009, political posturing, artificial accountability, and bureaucratic burdens have “halted” practitioners long enough.

First, SB 1 attempts to reduce political influences that have stifled educators’ voices for determining state academic standards and tests.  Pursuit of federal “Race to the Top” money influenced our state to adopt standards without preliminary practitioner input and to hastily choose tests that inadequately aligned with those standards.

Most teachers have had to pull double duty teaching extra lessons for the state test in addition to their regular curriculum.  Just ask any Kentucky educator.  The good news is that SB 1 will not only allow the public and Kentucky teachers to recommend standards but also trust them to simultaneously ensure alignment of state tests with those standards.

In addition, to reinforce transparency, a committee composed of Governor appointees, representatives, and senators will join the Commissioner of Education to prevent the political end-run influence of vendors or executive orders from nullifying public and educator recommendations.  This committee will NOT change the recommendations made by the review groups, but will ensure all voices have been heard before forwarding them to the Kentucky Board of Education.

Second, in response to educators’ outcries from across the state, our bill’s accountability guidelines will allow practitioners to refocus on student growth, staff productivity, and credentialed graduates sought by industry, rather than on compliant activity and a chasing after points.  Despite state assistance and sanctions, accountability measures have not effectively impacted student achievement growth, especially for our economically disadvantaged students, whose percentage of novice scores nearly doubles those of their counterparts.  Just ask any Kentucky educator.

To hold both higher and lower scoring schools accountable to move 100 percent of their students to proficient performance, SB 1 requires one additional measure that compares each school’s average growth with other schools with similar demographics.  In addition, to accelerate school improvement, SB 1 aligns with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to allow local districts the decision-making authority to pursue cutting-edge, turnaround strategies from experts not available from the Department of Education.

Postsecondary readiness will be measured by increases in the percentage of graduates with higher college admissions test scores, college credit hours, and genuine credentials demanded by industry rather than an assortment of additional tests.

Third, although a statewide professional growth and effectiveness system was recently established for Kentucky educators, federal influence reversed the course and stunted the growth of practitioners.  The quality new standards and evaluation framework was neutralized by forcing teachers to spend a disproportionate amount of time responding to incessant and overreaching state requirements to submit unnecessary documentation, tallying of processes, and tediously entering contrived student growth on a $36 million web-based system that seldom worked.

A principal remarked that he was no longer a leader of an innovative staff, but a manager of compliance.  Just ask any Kentucky educator.  SB 1 preserves the state’s authority to establish a quality statewide evaluation framework but designates to the local district the logistics of developing and implementing an evaluation system that must align with that common framework.

This is not a time to stop and study.  It is a time to dramatically grow.  The best time to plant a tree was seven years ago.  SB 1 of 2009 was that tree.  However, federal and state influence and overreach has halted growth and significantly diminished the harvest of fruit we envisioned.  Just ask any Kentucky educator.

The second best time to plant a tree is NOW and we can do that with SB 1 of 2016.

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Note: Senator Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green) represents the 32nd District in Warren County. He is the Chair of both the Education Committee and the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee.  He is a member of the Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee and the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee, as well as a liaison member of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Education.   For a high-resolution .jpeg of Senator Wilson, please visit www.lrc.state.ky.us/pubinfo/ephoto.htm.


Senate Majority Priorities for Part 2 of #KYGA15

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015) – The Kentucky Senate Majority introduced their next five priorities bills Tuesday to kick off part two of the 2015 Legislative Session of the Kentucky General Assembly. All five bills received their first reading Tuesday:

  • Senate Bill 6 (Sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado) – creates a medical malpractice claim board to review cases against health care providers before they can be pursued in court to help stop frivolous lawsuits.
  • SB 7 (Sen. Julie Raque Adams) – requires ultrasound pictures of a woman’s unborn baby be made available to the individual considering having an abortion, if she chooses to see them.
  • SB 8 (Sen. Mike Wilson) – permits the establishment of charter schools to close the educational achievement gap and provide choices for parents.
  • SB 9 (Sen. Wil Schroder) – Reduces the cost of new school construction by exempting said schools from the “prevailing wage” requirements.
  • SB 10 (Sen. Stan Humphries) – continues the development of a stroke system of care in Kentucky that facilitates timely access to an appropriate level of care for stroke patients.  In 2006, the legislature passed a resolution that encourages the development of this system.