Wayne Lewis named Kentucky education commissioner

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WTVQ) – The Kentucky Board of Education has voted to make Wayne Lewis the state’s education commissioner.

Lewis has been in the job on an interim basis since April, when a newly appointed board forced out former Commissioner Stephen Pruitt despite having more than a year left on his contract.

Pruitt’s exit prompted protests from some teachers’ unions who viewed it as a power grab by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. But Tuesday, the state Board of Education gave Lewis a glowing evaluation and authorized board chairman Hal Heiner to negotiate a contract with Lewis for the full-time job.

Lewis said he was “incredibly humbled” by the appointment and urged the state to come together and “put foolishness aside and focus on our kids.”

Democratic leadership in the Kentucky House and Senate were critical of the appointment.  Here are the prepared statements released Tuesday:

“In another move to implement charter schools in Kentucky, the Governor has appointed Wayne Lewis as the state’s education commissioner. Though we need to make changes to our educational system, we fear that the Governor is taking us down a dangerous path that will cause unquestionable harm to public education in the commonwealth.”

–Senate Democratic Caucus

“While no surprise, today’s decision to permanently name Wayne Lewis as Kentucky’s education commissioner is yet another step toward implementing charter schools here in the commonwealth.   As leaders of the House Democratic Caucus, we believe this is the wrong direction for our students and our schools, but it does not deter us from our goal: To have the best public-school system in the country.  We will work with anyone who moves us in that direction, but will oppose any plan that holds us back.”

— House Democratic Leaders Rocky Adkins, Dennis Keene and Wilson Stone

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