Tuesday, January 8, 2008

CT Attorney General, No Child Left Behind Lawsuit, And Hypocritical Politics

I almost keeled over with laughter yesterday hearing our Attorney General, Dick Blumenthal, on the radio news talking about this lawsuit and how the federal government is wrong for handing us the "unfunded mandate" of No Child Left Behind. We only get a mere 5.8 million for NCLB from the Feds. He was complaining about how unfair it is, and how unconstitutional it is; that the Feds require us to do things without supplying the funding for it. It has been reported that our testing costs 14.4 million or more. Has Blumenthal looked around in his own state lately? Has he not heard the cries of our municipal leaders and budget makers? I guess it is not O.K. for the Feds to shortchange us - but it is entirely O.K. for the state of CT to shortchange their own municipalities! What about the unfunded mandates that the state is handing down to our own municipalities?? Perhaps CT ought to tell the Feds to stick their money somewhere and dump NCLB all together! Especially for all of the grief it is causing! New Hampshire is already crafting such legislation.

Now, the US Appeals court revived a lawsuit which is attempting to sue the federal government over the lack of funding for No Child Left Behind legislation. (This is a different lawsuit then the one Blumenthal filed)

The argument is that schools should not have to comply with requirements that aren't funded by the federal government and that the government is imposing unfunded mandates, even though the act itself prohibits unfunded mandates. How about they look at the fact that the whole damn thing of the Federal government dictating anything having to do with education is UnConstitutional! Has anyone in Congress who voted for this mess read the Tenth Amendment lately?
Plaintiffs include the Pontiac, Mich., school district and eight districts in Texas and Vermont, along with National Education Association affiliates in several states. The NEA is paying for the appeal.

Chief U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman in Detroit dismissed the lawsuit in November 2005, saying the plaintiffs failed to support their claim, but his ruling was reversed by a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, in a 2-1 decision released Monday.

The court majority said the law fails to provide clear notice about who must pay the additional costs of compliance.

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said No Child Left Behind is a compact between the states and the federal government, not an unfunded mandate.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the appeals court decision should boost a similar but separate federal lawsuit by the state of Connecticut challenging the No Child Left Behind law.

"This decision is like a bolt of legal lightning. It provides very powerful, new momentum to our case, re-energizing and enhancing our challenge to the Secretary of Education," he said. "Our challenge, both legally and morally, is stronger today than ever before. This precedent upends the world of educational spending."

Connecticut is arguing that the federal law is unconstitutional, an unfunded federal mandate costing more than the state received in federal aid.

Blumenthal said he hopes the secretary will reverse course and reform what he called the "government's misguided unfunded mandates."
The law requires tests on subjects including math and reading in grades three through eight, and once in high school. Schools that miss testing benchmarks face increasingly stiff sanctions, including the potential loss of federal money.

Oh the irony - I will tell you what is so hilarious about this.... The Attorney General is all upset that we aren't getting enough money from the Feds, and is whining about unfunded mandates and yet our own state government does this all the time to our municipalities! Municipal governments are constantly being told to implement school programs mandated by the state with no money attached to do that. Perhaps our municipalities should start suing the state - or defy the state government - and not initiate programs that are required and not funded by the state. yes, I know about CJEF (CT Coalition for Justice in Education) - and that's a scam all together.

It is high time we say no to unfunded mandates either from the Feds or from the state. Local taxes are just out of control as a result. We have no control over salaries with binding arbitration, and we have no control over state unfunded mandates being crammed down our throats.

The people crafting town budgets have their hands tied, and taxes continually have to rise to compensate. But the stupid thing is that they keep asking the state for more money so what happens is that state taxes have to go up - so the taxpayer pays either way! Federal tax, State tax, Local tax...either way it's all coming out of the same pocket, but of course with state and federal taxes we have to beg to get our money back!

How about just cutting spending?
How about just cutting taxes?
How about allowing school systems to make their own decisions on how they spend their budget and stop telling them what they have to spend it on or forcing them to pay through closed door binding arbitration deals which are out of the taxpayer's control.

Just look at the list of unfunded state mandates to CT school districts! and even more laws added last session in 2007.