After listening to, and agreeing with governors’ complaints that Washington was forcing them to raise taxes or cut services by mandating that they spend their money on federal programs, the authors of “No Child Left Behind” reacted. They added a provision to the bill that promised states that they would not have to pick up the tab for “any costs not paid for under this act.”
Only now some states and teacher organizations are claiming that Washington has not kept its part of the bargain, so they are taking matters into their own hands.
Faced with the costs and consequences inherent in testing disabled students, Texas exempted some 9 percent of its students from NCLB testing because they are learning-impaired.
Then, last Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Utah Legislature authorized state officials to ignore those provisions of NCLB that have not been fully funded by Washington.
The next day the National Education Association along with school districts from Michigan, Texas and Vermont filed suit in federal court charging the Department of Education with failing to adequately fund the mandate.
New Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings defended the administration and claimed that “four separate studies assert the law is appropriately funded and not a mandate.” This is surely news to Connecticut, whose state auditor found that required annual testing will cost the state $8 million more than the federal government has given it.
Connecticut will also sue.
The time has come for Spellings to sit down with state educators — teachers and administrators — who have to carry out the law. In the past their input was seldom sought and routinely ignored. And she should bring in some governors and legislators. Let these folks explain what is happening out here in the real world. Then, Spellings needs to carry the message back to Congress and the president, so they can do something before the courts tell them they have to obey the law as they wrote it.
Meanwhile, here in Alabama, folks who are crying wolf over the unfounded fear of an activist judge forcing the state to raise taxes for education need to take a long, hard look at “No Child Left Behind.”
Here is a real wolf at the door.
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES