Martha Roby, Richard Shelby take opposing views on education reform bill

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Last week, with Rep. Martha Roby‘s (AL-02) support, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to scale back the federal government’s role in American education by passing the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The bill, approved 359-64, replaces the 2002 No Child Left Behind law and hands over much of the decision-making power back to states and school districts across the country, while simultaneously ending federal efforts to encourage academic standards such as Common Core guidelines. The legislation would however retain the testing requirements, which many parents, teachers and school districts detest. Though it reforms the process and now grants the states the decision-making power over how to use the test results in assessing teachers and schools.

“This is a big win for parents, teachers, administrators and anyone who has been frustrated by the federal intrusion in education policy,” explained Roby. “It isn’t just important for the current issues we know about. It’s also important for the next pet policy the Secretary of Education favors. Maybe that’s next year or five years from now, but I want to take away their ability to improperly coerce states once and for all, and that’s what my language does.”

But not all Alabama lawmakers share Roby’s positive thoughts of the legislation.

While U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) took a stand against the legislation prior to the U.S. Senate‘s Wednesday vote.

“While this bill may be well-intentioned and makes some improvements to our current policy, it is a missed opportunity to truly put an end to unnecessary federal intervention into education,” said Richard Shelby. “I have always believed that education decisions should be made at a local level and that Congress should empower parents and teachers – not Washington bureaucrats. Instead, this bill extends some of the same failed policies that could provide a path for top-down federal mandates like Common Core.”

Shelby isn’t the only one who disapproves of the pending legislation. Roby’s primary challenger, Wetumpka Tea Party President Becky Gerritson calls Roby’s support of the bill a “headscratcher.”

“[Roby’s] vote yesterday is yet another example of her support for Common Core, for top-down one-size-fits-all standards, for psychological profiling of our young students, and for the federal government dictating what goes on in our classroom,” Gerritson said in an email to her supporters.

“I don’t know if Martha Roby agreed with every portion of this bill or if she was just doing what she was told by fellow members of the Establishment. What I do know is that this is yet another example of Martha leaving the values of the Second District at home. When Martha Roby goes to DC, her every action supports making government bigger, more unconstitutional, and more intrusive.”

But not everyone in the 2nd Congressional District shares Gerritson’s concerns. Roby put out a press release Wednesday citing the support and approval of several district educators, including Dothan City Schools Superintendent Chuck Ledbetter, Ed. D.

“While it isn’t perfect, it is does return more of the education policy making role to the states and local school boards,” assures Ledbetter. “It continues to emphasize education equity for all students while giving back control of how equity and excellence are achieved to those closer to the students who can make better, individualized decisions to help students learn. We appreciate Rep. Roby’s help in curtailing federal overreach and her willingness to support this important education bill.”

The Senate approved the legislation Wednesday, 85-12 with the support of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and it is now on its way to President Barack Obama‘s desk to be signed into law.

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