Congressman reacts to overhaul of No Child Left Behind

After years of failed efforts, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Wednesday night in favor of a rewrite of the controversial No Child Left Behind Act.

Nearly all members of Congress from Georgia, including Earl L.“Buddy”Carter, R-Pooler, voted for it.

Carter, a member of the House committee that worked on the legislation, said it downsizes the U.S. Department of Education by eliminating “nearly 50 programs”and by reducing the clout of the education secretary. “It pushes education back down to the local level. … That’s where the best decisions are made,” said Carter, a freshman in the House who serves on the Education and the Workforce Committee.

The bill, S 1177, touches some of the hottest buttons in education, such as testing, teacher evaluations and the role of the federal government in encouraging educational standards.

Tests will still be required, but states will have more latitude in using the results. For instance, they can choose not to use them in teacher evaluations. Half of Georgia teachers’evaluations will be based on their students’ test scores under the state’s current policy.

Carter said the federal law is a blow to the Common Core standards because it strips the federal education secretary of the power to wield financial incentives that encourage states to maintain them.

“The Common Core basically still remains, but the states have a decision now of whether they want it or not,” he said. Parents in some states are so angry about tests that they“opted out” from having their kids take them. Georgia parents have not been nearly as vocal, but some still bridle at the mandates. This proposed law still requires annual tests in reading and math for students in most grades. To the angry parents who wanted less testing, Carter said, “We did the best we could.”

The law, which next goes to the Senate, goes a long way toward the “de-evolution” of a federal agency, he said, but not quite far enough. “Ideally, I said I’d like to do away with the Department of Education,” Carter said. “But this gives us a good start.”