Wayne Lewis


The Kentucky Board of Education has forced out Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis as part of an overhaul in the administration of newly inaugurated Gov. Andy Beshear.

The move comes two days after Beshear totally replaced the board, fulfilling a campaign promise that rallied educators who disagreed with policies of previous members appointed by former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

Board chair David Karem announced that Lewis had submitted a letter of resignation during a special meeting of the board of education.

“This is really a return to what the Kentucky Education Reform Act intended. The appointment of a quality board of members to this board and a national search for a commissioner of education,” Karem said.

Governor Andy Beshear fulfilled one campaign pledge on the first day of his administration on Tuesday.  He replaced every member of the Kentucky Board of Education through an executive order.  On Thursday, he's likely to make good on a second promise to fire Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis.

The newly minted Board of Education will meet in Frankfort to discuss “possible action to terminate" Lewis’ contract.  The agenda also says the board may go into executive session to consider appointing an interim leader and conducting a national search for a new education commissioner. 

Becca Schimmel

If Gov.-elect Andy Beshear fulfills his campaign promise to replace the members of the Kentucky Board of Education, he would be the first governor to do so since lawmakers tried to insulate the board from political pressures in 1990 as part of the Kentucky Education Reform Act.

Beshear, a Democrat, has said he would overhaul the Board of Education by executive order “on day one,” a rallying point for many educators who disagreed with priorities of the current 11-member board appointed by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

Beshear has also said he hopes that the board would replace its only employee, Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, who was hired shortly after Bevin’s appointees took control of the board in 2018.

Kentucky Department of Education

The Kentucky Department of Education is seeking feedback on the state’s new minimum high school graduation requirements. 

Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis will hold four town hall forums this month and next.  The first one is on Monday evening in Shelbyville at the Ohio Valley Education Cooperative. 


In his monthly report to the Kentucky Board of Education Wednesday, Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis gave an impassioned argument that overall school funding would not solve all the problems schools face. Instead, Lewis called for “additional strategic funding” to address inequities in education. Among that targeted funding, Lewis suggested that performance-based pay for teachers could be an effective strategy for improving Kentucky schools.

“If we’re honest about it, there is no incentive currently to be a great teacher,” Lewis told the Board of Education.

Lewis argued better incentives for teachers would help teacher retention overall, and specifically attract more experienced educators to serve in high need schools. Lewis said currently, the schools with the greatest need are frequently heavily staffed by first year teachers.

Liz Schlemmer

The Kentucky Department of Education recommends school districts revise their leave policies to close a “loophole” that allows teachers to hold “an illegal work stoppage.”

The move comes in response to teachers in 10 counties staging a so-called “sickout” for a single day in February to protest an education bill in Frankfort. Bullitt County Public Schools closed for a total of 3 days, and Jefferson County Public Schools for a total of 6 days, as some teachers continued to call in sick during March to advocate at the Capitol.

Creative Commons

Kentucky’s Department of Education will lobby the legislature to fund charter schools, hold back third graders who don’t meet reading standards and take the power to hire school principals away from school-based decision making councils.

Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis presented the priorities to the Kentucky Board of Education on Wednesday. The board voted unanimously to sign on to the agenda.

State lawmakers passed a charter schools bill in 2017, but never created a permanent funding mechanism for the independently managed but publicly funded schools.

Thomas Galvez/Creative Commons

Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis has revised his proposal for high schoolers to demonstrate they’re ready to graduate.

The changes come a little less than two days before the state board of education is scheduled to vote on the measure.

Under Lewis’ original proposal, students would have to prove they were “transition ready” by meeting benchmark test scores on college entrance exams, getting on-the-job experience or passing college-level courses. They would also have to pass basic reading and math tests before they could graduate or have a portfolio approved by the local superintendent

Creative Commons

Teachers and education advocates voiced concern about proposed changes to high school graduation requirements during a public hearing on Thursday.

Under the proposal, which received initial approval last month, students will be required to pass basic reading and math exit exams before they can graduate, and prove they are “transition ready” by getting on-the-job experience, passing college entry exams or passing college-level courses.

The Kentucky Board of Education has signed off on new graduation requirements for high school students. 

Under the new standards, 10th grade students would have to pass foundation exams in reading and math in order to receive a diploma.  They could take the tests multiple times, but if they still can’t pass, they could appeal to their local superintendent.

Students would also have to meet benchmark test scores or prove career readiness by earning industry certification or completing an apprenticeship.

Despite some education groups, including the Kentucky Education Association, wanting the vote postponed, the Board of Education gave preliminary approval to the new requirements during a meeting in Frankfort on Wednesday. 

Kentucky Department of Education

The Kentucky Board of Education has voted to make Wayne Lewis Kentucky’s education commissioner on a permanent basis. 

Board members on Tuesday chose to bypass a national search and give Commissioner Lewis the top job permanently, pending approval of a contract.  The board could vote on the terms of the contract, including salary, at its meeting on Wednesday.

“I can think of no better person than Wayne Lewis to affect the type of change that is needed in public education in Kentucky right now,” said Kentucky Board of Education Chairman Hal Heiner. “His vision for Kentucky’s students will help accomplish what educators and politicians have struggled to accomplish for many years – to close achievement gaps for students of all races, socioeconomic backgrounds and learning abilities.”

Bobby Ellis

Kentucky’s interim education commissioner says more high school students need to take advantage of early opportunities to earn credits in postsecondary education. 

During his State of Education Address this week, Wayne Lewis encouraged more participation in the state’s Dual Credit and Work Ready scholarships that offer tuition assistance and a path toward college or a technical career. 

An education board in Kentucky has voted to eliminate a requirement that public school teachers earn a Master’s degree to continue in the profession. 

The Education Professional Standards Board voted on Monday to approve a waiver that eliminates the mandate for teachers to move to Rank II.  The panel said the move will provide school districts with greater flexibility in recruiting and retaining educators. 

Warren County Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton says when he initially learned of the decision, he was worried the state was lowering standards for teachers.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky Republicans aren’t all on the same page when it comes to a potential state takeover of Louisville’s public school system.

Gov. Matt Bevin is in favor of it, saying that local officials haven’t been able to fix longstanding problems in the district like a pervasive gap between the academic performances of white and minority students.

J. Tyler Franklin

State lawmakers from Louisville agree that the city’s public school system needs to improve, but disagree along party lines over whether the state should intervene in the management of the district.

At an event in Louisville on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers who represent parts of Jefferson County criticized the proposed takeover.