Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Connecticut will sue Federal Government over No Child Left Behind

Blumenthal to challenge controversial law

According to AP reports, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will argue in a lawsuit against the federal government that the No Child Left Behind act of 2002 is illegal.

The lawsuit will contend that the law illegally requires states and communities to spend millions above what federal funding provides to create standardized testing and initiate school reform efforts, Blumenthal said.

"This law is outrageously wrong. It's bad education policy, but it's also blatantly illegal," Blumenthal said.
A recent analysis by Connecticut education officials found that the state will have to spend $41.6 million above what federal funding provides to meet the law's mandates by 2008. Towns and cities will have to spend about $700 million collectively across the state, the report said. (AP)

This is a bold move by Blumenthal, and one that I cautiously applaud. I'm not a legal expert, so I don't know that he has a legitimate case, but I do know from my experience as a teacher that the law places an unfair burden on local school districts, many of which lack the ability of the federal government to raise funds to pay for it. For example, a significant majority of our school districts' budgets are subject to voter approval. This is a messy process (who wants to vote to raise taxes?) which almost always results in the school district getting less than what it actually needs. If the federal government expects local districts to pay for the law it enacted, vital programs will suffer (like music, art, athletics and drama) as will the materials budget (which pays for books and computers).

Even if it isn't illegal, it's massively unfair and hypocritical. I imagine that this case will, if nothing else, make that clear to a wider segment of the populace.

As for Blumenthal... what a great piece of publicity. The CEA will love him.

I had been of the opinion that he wouldn't be running next year. This makes me re-think that... but only a little bit. We'll see.

Source: "Connecticut to challenge No Child Left Behind education law." Associated Press 5 April 2005.


smalltowndem said...

It'll be interesting to see if Blumenthal can get other states to sign on to the lawsuit.

In our region, the school budget is about 2/3 of the entire town budget.

Budget season is upon us now, and it would be interesting to see a separate breakout of NCLB costs published along with the regular budget.

At some point, maybe now with the lawsuit, people need to realize that NCLB is a FEDERAL program that increases local costs without local control.

(I mean, it's not like the school administration is trying to sneak in a new school program for the benefit of the students, heaven forbid.)

Genghis Conn said...

That's a great example of how this program can place an unfair burden on already cash-strapped districts. I, too, would like to see a cost breakdown that lets people know how much NCLB is costing each district.