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Senator Lamar Alexander Speaks at Belmont on Education Legislation

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today told a room full of Tennessee education leaders, legislators, teachers and students that “Tennessee public school classrooms are back in your hands,” thanks to the new education law that fixes No Child Left Behind and restores local control of public schools.

In a special event held in Belmont’s Wedgewood Academic Center conference space, Alexander was interviewed by Dr. Jesse Register of the University’s Center for Improvement of Educational Systems on new education legislation that he authored. Centered on the topic, “Landmark Reauthorization of Federal Education Funding: The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and What It Means for Tennessee,” Register and Alexander spoke in depth on the new education law, its impact and its implementation.

Alexander said, “This new law is the biggest devolution of federal control in a quarter century, according to the Wall Street Journal, which means that now you have the ball, and my role is to be your most aggressive defender.”

“I’d recommend that you form a coalition in Tennessee of teachers, principals, superintendents, legislators, along with Governor Haslam and Education Commissioner Candace McQueen, and work together to write a new state education plan, which is necessary to receive federal dollars for your schools. The national coalition that worked to pass the law, is now working to see that it is implemented it as Congress wrote it—a state coalition is just as important.”

Alexander said the Senate education committee will hold at least six hearings this year on oversight and implementation of the new education law.

Alexander worked to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act last year which restored to states, local school districts, classroom teachers and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement.

The new law ended the National School Board run out of Washington, DC, the federal common core mandate, “Mother May I” conditional waivers, highly qualified teacher definitions and requirements, teacher evaluation mandates, federal school turnaround models, federal test-based accountability and adequate yearly progress.

 

The bill was passed by the House 359–64, passed by the Senate 85–12, and signed by the president in December. Alexander attributed much of the law’s success to a unique coalition of national organizations—including governors, teachers, parents, superintendents, chief state school officers and principals.

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