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The Bottom Line: Sen. Lamar Alexander to visit state, testify on new education law

By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line

Sen. Lamar Alexander
Sen. Lamar Alexander

As a way for Kentucky legislators to get a better understanding of the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and how the state should comply, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee will be in the Commonwealth Monday to discuss the details of the bill.

In an interview with The Bottom Line, Kentucky state Senate Education Committee Chair Mike Wilson said having Alexander come speak to the members of the committee will bring big benefits in terms of understanding the new federal law, which is seen as a replacement to the No Child Left Behind law and regarded as a way to return educational power back to the states in many ways.

Touting Alexander’s credentials as a two term governor of Tennessee, the president of the University of Tennessee, and Secretary of Education under President George H. W. Bush, Wilson said it has been a goal of his to get Sen. Alexander into Kentucky to talk education for quite some time now.

Wilson said a briefing from Alexander, who is considered to be one of the architects of the original bill introduced in the U.S. Senate, will help Kentucky legislators get a better grasp on how the state should comply with the new federal law.

“Through negotiations, about 80 percent of the bill they introduced in the Senate survives in the legislation and was signed into law,” Wilson said. “So for him to come and give us a briefing as legislators — our job is to make sure our policy lines up with federal law — it’s probably the greatest opportunity that we have as a state to really take control of our education system and get rid of all this federal bureaucracy and overreach that’s been a part for the last few years.”

U.S. Sen. Alexander will testify in the Interim Joint Committee on Education meeting on Monday, Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Annex.