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NCLB Outrages

Schools Chief Defends No Child Law

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Superintendent of Public Instruction Trent Blankenship rejected the suggestion that Wyoming might join a lawsuit challenging the federal "No Child Left Behind" law.

In a news release Friday night, Blankenship said Wyoming schools were "among the best performing schools in the nation in meeting the expectations of the No Child Left Behind Act."

"I do not recommend that Wyoming join the lawsuit currently being pursued by the National Education Association," Blankenship said. "Wyoming students and schools are benefiting from the No Child Left Behind Act.

The statement from Wyoming's top education official - a Republican - came in response to a letter sent earlier Friday by Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal, who said Wyoming needed to consider joining the current lawsuit, filed by the NEA, or another suit that might be filed in Connecticut.

"As governor, I believe we need to consider whether the state of Wyoming should join this lawsuit challenging NCLB or the suit to be filed in the future by Connecticut," Freudenthal wrote. "Unfunded federal mandates must be carefully scrutinized."

The NEA lawsuit against President Bush's signature education law is built upon one paragraph in the law that says no state or school district can be forced to spend its money on expenses the federal government has not covered.

The other plaintiffs are nine school districts in Michigan, Vermont and Bush's home state of Texas, plus 10 NEA chapters in those states and Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah. The NEA is paying for the lawsuit.

Freudenthal asked Blankenship whether school districts were receiving adequate federal funding to comply with the mandates of the federal education law and whether school districts had to reallocate state educational funds to meet NCLB's requirements.

Blankenship said the state actually received more federal education dollars under NCLB than it had before, and that Wyoming's students benefit from the law's attention to outcomes.

"NCLB's focus on ensuring that all students are achieving in schools is the right approach," Blankenship said. "Although the act isn't perfect, we should continue working with the U.S. Department of Education rather than join those who would remain paralyzed by political infighting."

— Associated Press
Billings Gazette


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