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NCLB Outrages

Connecticut Lawsuit Is Cut Back

By Sam Dillon

A federal judge yesterday dismissed much of Connecticut’s closely watched legal challenge to President Bush’s education law, No Child Left Behind, but allowed the state to go forward with its claim that Washington treated the state unfairly in negotiations over how to carry out the law.

“The court has decided that it lacks jurisdiction over most of the state’s claims, though one claim will remain pending after this ruling,” the judge, Mark R. Kravitz of Federal District Court in New Haven, wrote.

Connecticut’s lawsuit, filed in August 2005, challenged the federal law as an unfunded mandate that was costing the state tens of millions of dollars more to carry out than it was receiving from Washington. It was the first legal challenge to the federal law by a state.

Both sides expressed satisfaction with Judge Kravitz’s ruling.

“The Department of Education is pleased that the federal district judge dismissed three of Connecticut’s claims in its lawsuit,” said Katherine McLane, the department’s press secretary. “The goal of No Child Left Behind is nothing more than what parents deserve and are demanding: that their children read and do math at grade level.”

Judge Kravitz ruled that Connecticut could not challenge the law’s constitutionality until it had exhausted all available administrative appeals to the Department of Education.

The judge permitted the state to proceed with a separate argument that the secretary of education “acted arbitrarily” in denying Connecticut’s request for an exemption from the law, after the state had concluded that it would receive insufficient financing to carry out the law’s testing mandates.

The Connecticut attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, said, “The judge has preserved our rights to pursue our claim that the secretary is violating our rights, so we’re alive and well.”

The nation’s largest teachers union filed a similar challenge last year, which a federal judge in Michigan dismissed outright last November.

— Sam Dillon
New York Times
2006-09-27


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