Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who has been Capitol Hill’s leading Republican on education issues for more than decade, announced Monday that he’s not planning to run again in 2020.
Alexander, who served as President George H.W. Bush’s education secretary, was a chief architect of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the law that replaced No Child Left Behind in 2015. As chairman of the Senate education committee, he insisted on a prominent role for states in accountability, school turnarounds, testing, and more, but worked with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the education committee’s ranking Democrat, to get a bipartisan deal.
He also lead the effort in the Senate to scrap the Obama administration’s accountability regulations for the law, which said went beyond the bounds of ESSA and would constrained state innovation.
Alexander was first elected to the Senate in 2002 and is in his third term as a senator.
Alexander’s upcoming retirement could create an interesting climate for the Senate committee when it comes to education issues.
For some time, Alexander has sought to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Now with just two years left go as chairman, he’ll have to work closely with incoming House education committee chairman Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., if he wants to get a deal done on the law before he leaves office. Alexander could also choose to address other priorities in the next Congress as part of his sign-off from Capitol Hill, including student-data privacy and special education.
More details to come.