Thursday, April 21, 2005

The National Education Association Vs. The United States Government

We have learned that the National Education Association (NEA) has joined nine local school districts in a lawsuit against the federal government over funding the No Child Left Behind Act:

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for eastern Michigan, is the most sweeping challenge to President Bush's signature education policy. The outcome would apply only to the districts involved but could have implications for all schools nationwide.

Leading the fight is the National Education Association, a union of 2.7 million members that represents many public educators and is financing the lawsuit. The other plaintiffs are nine school districts in Michigan, Texas and Vermont, plus 10 NEA chapters in those three states and Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, as the chief officer of the agency that enforces the law, is the only defendant. The suit centers on a question that has overshadowed the law since Bush signed it in 2002: whether the president and Congress have provided enough money.

The challenge 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.

In response to the lawsuit, The United States Department of Education has released this short statement:
U.S. Department of Education press secretary Susan Aspey today issued the following statement regarding the National Education Association's action regarding No Child Left Behind:

"Today's announcement is regrettable. No Child Left Behind is, at its core, about fairness and educational opportunity for all students. The preliminary results are in, and in just three short years, states across the nation are showing strong gains in student achievement. The achievement gap-decades in the making-is finally starting to narrow.

"President Bush and Congress have provided historic funding increases for education, and yet we continue to hear the same weak arguments from the NEA. Four separate studies assert the law is appropriately funded and not a mandate.

"We're not alone in our efforts. Respected, national education organizations, including the Council of the Great City Schools and the Council of Chief State School Officers, are working with us to continue this unprecedented national progress. We intend to continue moving forward in partnership with national and state education leaders, and look forward to the day when the NEA will join us in helping children who need our help the most in classrooms, instead of spending its time and members' money in courtrooms."

Over at its website, the NEA had this to say:
"Today we're standing up for children, whose parents are saying, 'No more' to costly federal regulations that drain money from classrooms and spend it on paperwork, bureaucracy and big testing companies," said NEA President Reg Weaver. "The principle of the law is simple; if you regulate, you have to pay."
And there you have it. NEA's unelected Autocrat "President" Reg Weaver decided to use NEA funds to pick this courtroom fight with the federal government. N.E.A. claims to represent teachers, and yet they didn't bother to ask us (who actually serve in the classroom) whether or not we wanted any portion of our dues money to be used in order to tilt at legal windmills. No polls, no ballots, and no choice.

And since California is what is known as a "closed shop" state, the withholding of dues from the union is not an option

Other Commentary: Eduwonk, (here and here) Jenny D, Joanne Jacobs
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