Signaling his commitment to continuing improvements in education for Kentucky and the region, Gov. Steve Beshear accepted chairmanship of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).

He was elected to lead the 80-member board of governors, legislators and state education leaders as they explore ways to advance the educational performance of students at every level.  The board’s annual meeting was held in New Orleans this week.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to work with other state leaders as we all have the common goal of high achievement for all of our students,” said Gov. Beshear. “As our world is technologically evolving every day, we have the critical responsibility to keep up with new expectations and prepare our students to be competitive on a global level.”

Education has been a top priority of the Beshear administration. The governor has repeatedly protected classroom funding by excluding SEEK from cuts through 13 budget reductions.

Emphasizing his commitment to improving education and health services for Kentucky’s youngest citizens, Gov. Beshear created the Early Childhood Advisory Council to focus on school readiness standards. He has also supported preschool expansion.

Gov. Beshear overhauled Career and Technical Education to unite state efforts to better prepare students for careers in the 21st Century.  By merging the state’s Career and Technical Education systems, a new academic emphasis has been placed on career skills.

Most recently, the Governor challenged Kentucky’s school districts to adopt the Graduate Kentucky age policy to increase compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 and promote high school graduation for all students.

In 2011, Gov. Beshear was named America’s Greatest Education Governor by the National Education Association. The award recognizes governors for making great strides to improve public schools.

SREB works with 16 member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Atlanta, SREB was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislators to help education and government leaders advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region.