U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said that the Republican Senate majority “kept its promise to repeal the federal Common Core mandate, reverse the trend toward a national school board and restore local control in K-12 education” by fixing No Child Left Behind in 2015. The president signed the law’s replacement, the Every Student Succeeds Act, into law on Dec. 10.
Speaking to local Republicans during the DeKalb GOP Party's Reagan Day Dinner Tuesday night in Smithville, Senator Alexander, who is Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said "When I was campaigning for re-election, I told Tennessee voters that if they would re-elect me to the Senate that I would end the federal Common Core mandate and that’s exactly what we did in this Republican Congress. The federal Common Core mandate is history. It's over. Done with. Gone. It's got a stake through its heart. It's up to Tennessee and school teachers and school boards what the academic standards ought to be in our state. That's a good step forward in the right direction," said Senator Alexander.
“The law eliminates the waivers from No Child Left Behind which allowed the U.S. Department of Education to become, in effect, a National School Board for 42 states, including Tennessee. Additionally, the new law strengthens charter schools, providing parents with greater school choice," he said.
Senator Alexander also spoke of the Brussels terrorist attack saying “We are reminded far too often that terrorists remain committed to attacking our way of life through evil acts such as those in Brussels. The American people stand with the people of Belgium today.”
"What happened in Brussels is a real sobering event and it makes even more important the law that we passed this last year on terrorism that allows our government, if it gets permission from a court, to listen in on telephone conversations that might come from Brussels to Smithville or Afghanistan to Nashville and if there is a suspicion that there is a terrorist activity, if we have gotten court approval of the seriousness of it, we should be able to find that out and take some action before a terrible event like that happens in our country. We've already had some but obviously we have people around the world who are so evil that they care nothing about destroying innocent lives," Senator Alexander said.
Asked by the local media prior to the dinner what he thought of President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, Senator Alexander said he agrees with the Senate Republican leadership that the vacancy should be filled by the next President.
“This debate is not about Judge Garland. It’s about whether to give the American people a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice.”
After Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said several weeks ago that the Supreme Court vacancy “should not be filled until we have a new president,” Alexander said “I believe it is reasonable to give the American people a voice by allowing the next president to fill this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Under our Constitution, the president has the right to nominate, but the Senate has the right to decide whether to consent at this point in a presidential election year. Sen. McConnell is only doing what the Senate majority has the right to do and what Senate Democrat leaders have said they would do in similar circumstances.”
Asked how DeKalb County voters should view the Presidential race, Alexander said voters should make up their own minds. "I learned a long time ago that Tennessee voters make up their own minds and they didn't elect me to tell them how to vote. I think particularly in Presidential races people should make up their own minds. One thing we Republicans have to remember is that its not enough to nominate somebody that we agree with. We've got to get somebody we agree with and who can get a majority of the voters or Hillary Clinton is going to appoint the next Supreme Court Justice and we're not going to be able to repeal and replace Obama Care," Senator Alexander concluded.
First elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, Alexander is in his third term having been re-elected in 2008 and 2014. He is also a two term Governor of Tennessee, having been elected in 1978 and re-elected in 1982. Alexander was President of the University of Tennessee from 1988–1991.
In 1991, Alexander was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education, from 1991 to 1993. Alexander ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000.
Born in Maryville, Tennessee, Alexander is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and New York University School of Law. He worked as a legislative assistant to Senator Howard Baker and as an assistant in the Nixon Administration in the late 1960s.