Press releases

View Kennedy’s speech here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today spoke on the Senate floor in support of efforts to improve education for Louisiana’s children. Louisiana House Bill (H.B.) 12 would protect students from being promoted to the fourth grade if their reading deficiencies have not been remedied by the end of the third grade. 

“Over half of my children, my young people, in Louisiana are not reading at their grade level, and, at some point, as a child is socially promoted in school and progresses, it almost becomes impossible for a child to learn if the child can’t read,” said Kennedy.

“We’ve got to be courageous enough to try new things that we think will work,” he added.

“Here’s what H.B. 12 would do: It would say, ‘Look, we’re not blaming anyone, but if you are a child in the third grade in Louisiana and you can’t read—according to objective standard—at an acceptable level, then you’re going to stay in the third grade . . . We think you can learn, and you can’t learn if you can’t read.’ Now, that doesn’t mean that the child just repeats the third grade with no help. We will assign that child special tutors. We will assign that child special attention. . . . Our kids deserve the chance. Every child can learn,” concluded Kennedy.

Louisiana spends $2,000 per student more than Florida and $2,600 more than Mississippi, but both states outperform Louisiana in grade four in terms of reading and math, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). 

According to reporting, Mississippi and Florida represent “the two biggest NAEP improvement stories of the last twenty years” and demonstrated notable gains on reading scores after enacting a measure similar to H.B. 12.

The Louisiana State House passed H.B. 12 by a vote of 88-15 on May 16, 2023. The Louisiana State Senate is now considering the bill.

View Kennedy’s full speech here.