Thursday, November 24, 2005

Bad News For The NEA

The much-ballyhooed lawsuit (Pontiac v. Spellings) that NEA had filed in order to combat the federal No Child Left Behind Act has been thrown out of court. Apparently, however, the door isn't completely closed to further court action.

Over at their web site, the NEA has this to say: (emphasis added)
Filed on April 20, 2005, by NEA, several NEA affiliates, and nine school districts, the lawsuit is based on a specific provision of the NCLB—Sec. 9527(a)—which states:

“Nothing in this Act [i.e., the NCLB] shall be construed to authorize an officer or employee of the Federal government to... mandate a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this Act.”

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that the federal government is violating this unfunded mandates provision by insisting states and school districts spend their own money to comply with the requirements of NCLB despite the fact that federal funding falls billions of dollars short of covering their costs of doing so.

“Parents in communities where school districts are financially strained were promised that this law would close the achievement gaps,” said Reg Weaver, president of the 2.7 million-member NEA. “Instead, their tax dollars are being used to cover unpaid bills sent from Washington for costly regulations that do not help improve education.”

The Department of Education moved to dismiss the lawsuit on two grounds: that the plaintiffs lack standing to bring the lawsuit, and that Section 9527(a) does not mean that there can be no unfunded mandates imposed on states and school districts by the NCLB Act. In granting the Department of Education’s motion to dismiss, the court rejected the standing objection, finding that “standing had been adequately alleged.”

The court concluded, however, that Section 9527(a) does not prohibit Congress from imposing unfunded mandates. According to the court, the section only prohibits “federal officials and employees from imposing additional, unfunded requirements, beyond those provided for in the statute.”
National Education Association President Reg Weaver indicated that the organization intends to appeal the ruling. My guess is that the appeal will be equally unsuccessful.

As of yet, the House of Spellings
has nothing to say on the matter.

Update: (AM) Commenter Darren of Right on the Left Coast lets us know that The Secretary did indeed have something to say to the media.
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education right here, and our latest posts over there.