Skip to Main Content

Making the Case for Higher Academic Standards

Making the Case for Higher Academic Standards

James Allen, CEO of Hilliard Lyons, talks with Bill Goodman about his support for higher academic standards and explains why he believes those standards will result in a better prepared workforce and stronger economy. Allen is the current board chairman of the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation, which works to provide financial support for Jefferson County Public Schools.
S10 E38 Length 28:11 Premiere: 8.15.15

Making the Case for Higher Academic Standards

As Common Core becomes a political football in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race and the 2016 presidential campaign, one Louisville businessman is embracing the educational standards and what they can help the state’s school children achieve.

“The early returns suggest that we’re making some headway here and we should stick with it,” says James Allen, president, chairman and CEO of Hilliard Lyons. “We need to position our students to compete against the best.”

Allen addressed how higher educational standards benefit the business community in a recent speech at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Business Summit. He also appeared on One to One to discuss education issues with KET’s Bill Goodman.

Allen has been president of the Louisville-based wealth management firm for a dozen years, and has become active on the educational scene in Jefferson County. He chairs the non-profit Jefferson County Public Education Foundation, which provides financial resources and advocacy for the county school system. Allen has also served on Bellarmine University’s Board of Trustees and the advisory board for the University of Louisville’s School of Business.

Schools Doing a ‘Remarkable Job’
Allen says his work with these groups has given him a deep appreciation of the challenges educators face today. He points to the Jefferson County Public Schools, the state’s largest school system, as a prime example. The system serves 100,000 students, 65 percent of whom receive free or reduced-price meals. Many others face a variety of language and learning issues.

“I think given all of the circumstances, they do a remarkable job,” Allen says. “Under [Superintendent] Dr. Donna Hargens’ leadership… and an engaged school board, I think we’re seeing some real progress being made.”

For those public school critics who contend improvements aren’t happening fast enough, Allen suggests taking a long view of the situation. He says high school graduation rates and college and career readiness scores are improving, and will continue to do so.

“We need to be patient, committed, focused, and track progress but understand that it’s not going to happen overnight,” Allen says.

The Common Core Conundrum
In 2010 Kentucky became the first state in the nation to adopt the Common Core Standards for math and English language arts. Now more than 40 states have adopted Common Core, but the standards face a growing backlash. A number of presidential candidates have come out against the standards, as has Kentucky’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, Matt Bevin.

Allen contends the chief criticism of Common Core – that it’s a federal mandate – is simply not true. He says state and local boards of education along with local school districts are responsible for setting their own curricula to help students meet the more rigorous educational goals.

“The biggest issue with Common Core for people to understand and appreciate is that we are setting the bar higher in terms of the standards, in terms of the expectations for students… so that our students are better prepared for college and careers,” Allen explains.

Now five years into Common Core, Allen says repeal of the standards in Kentucky is not a viable option. In the Jefferson County schools, Allen says teachers have so accepted Common Core that he thinks they would be reluctant to revert to the old standards.

Budget and Resource Issues
Given ever tightening government budgets, Allen says it’s important for individuals and organizations to contribute to improving public school education.

“I just don’t think we’re going to solve this problem or make significant headway if we don’t embrace it as a community,” Allen says.

As examples, Allen tells how the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation has funded a reading proficiency program that sent 8,000 volunteers into local elementary schools. The foundation is also partnering with Ford Motor Co. for its Next Generation Learning initiative to further boost college and career readiness among high school graduates. Smaller organizations are also joining the cause: Allen says Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana is launching a program to help students learn business and life skills.

Allen’s own company, Hilliard Lyons, even sponsors annual awards for teacher excellence. Because education frequently becomes a hot-button topic, Allen says it’s important to recognize the outstanding work that educators perform every day.

“Teachers, they’re human, and they become frustrated that they might be the target of criticism that they’re not doing their job effectively, they’re not making enough progress, when in reality they really are having an impact on the lives of these kids,” Allen says.

amgrad3KET’s education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Program Details

One to One

About One to One

Host Bill Goodman and a variety of interesting and engaging people talk about the state and world we live in. Important, memorable, and provocative, this series offers an array of interviews with guests including politicians and philosophers, artists and authors, and the leading thinkers in Kentucky.

TV Schedules


No upcoming airdates


No recent airdates

Season 10 Episodes

Jeff Smith and Jonathan Miller

S10 E53 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 12.27.15

Economic Boom for Kentucky Bourbon

S10 E52 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 12.20.15

Steve Beshear Reflects on Service

S10 E51 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 12.13.15

Dr. R. Albert Mohler

S10 E50 Length 28:00 Premiere Date 11.22.15

Governor-elect Matt Bevin

S10 E49 Length 29:03 Premiere Date 11.15.15

Kentucky Life Host Doug Flynn

S10 E48 Length 28:26 Premiere Date 11.8.15

Al Cross on the 2015 Election

S10 E47 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 11.1.15

Trey Grayson

S10 E46 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 10.11.15

Tony Kemper of the de Paul School

S10 E45 Length 27:26 Premiere Date 10.4.15

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth

S10 E44 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 9.27.15

David Gregory on His Journey of Faith

S10 E43 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 9.20.15

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie

S10 E42 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 9.13.15

Sen. Mitch McConnell

S10 E41 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 9.5.15

Education Chief Reflects on Service

S10 E39 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 8.23.15

Making the Case for Higher Academic Standards

S10 E38 Length 28:11 Premiere Date 8.15.15

Emily Bingham Discusses Aunt's Biography

S10 E36 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 8.1.15

Personalized Cancer Treatment

S10 E35 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 7.25.15

Stu Silberman and Brigitte Blom Ramsey

S10 E34 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 7.18.15

Coding - Part 2

S10 E33 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 7.11.15

Scott Terrell on the Lexington Philharmonic

S10 E30 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 6.20.15

Jane Chu and Lori Meadows Discuss Kentucky Arts

S10 E29 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 6.13.15

Giving Voice to Kentucky Women

S10 E28 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 6.6.15

The Heroin Epidemic in Kentucky

S10 E26 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 5.23.15

Al Cross Discusses May 2015 Primary

S10 E25 Length 28:00 Premiere Date 5.16.15

Immigration Laws in Louisville

S10 E24 Length 28:17 Premiere Date 5.9.15

Cameron Ludwick and Blair Hess

S10 E23 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 5.2.15

Len Peters Discusses the EPA

S10 E22 Length 27:46 Premiere Date 4.25.15

Kim Baker Discusses the Arts

S10 E21 Length 28:56 Premiere Date 4.18.15

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Dr. Alison Davis

S10 E20 Length 27:46 Premiere Date 4.11.15

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz

S10 E19 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 4.4.15

Dr. Mark Evers

S10 E18 Length 27:11 Premiere Date 3.28.15

Teddy Abrams

S10 E17 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 3.21.15

Dr. Robert Davies

S10 E16 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 2.22.15

Brad Jones: Black Walls Turn Gray

S10 E15 Length 28:12 Premiere Date 2.15.15

SOAR Executive Director Jared Arnett

S10 E14 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 2.8.15

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto

S10 E13 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 2.1.15

Rep. Andy Barr: One to One from Washington

S10 E12 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 2.4.15

Rep. Thomas Massie: One to One from Washington

S10 E11 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 2.3.15

Rep. John Yarmuth: One to One from Washington

S10 E10 Length 27:41 Premiere Date 2.2.15

Rep. Brett Guthrie: One to One from Washington

S10 E9 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 1.30.15

Rep. Ed Whitfield: One to One from Washington

S10 E8 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 1.29.15

Rep. Hal Rogers: One to One from Washington

S10 E7 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 1.28.15

Sen. Rand Paul: One to One from Washington

S10 E6 Length 27:31 Premiere Date 1.27.15

Sen. Mitch McConnell: One to One from Washington

S10 E5 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 1.26.15

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell

S10 E4 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 1.6.15

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers

S10 E3 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 1.18.15

Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo

S10 E2 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 1.11.15

Gov. Steve Beshear

S10 E1 Length 28:41 Premiere Date 12.26.14

Explore KET