Education goes to court

It's been an eventful two weeks for education in the nation's courtrooms. A lawsuit organized by the National Education Association - that argued that NCLB improperly forced school districts to spend their own funds to implement the law - was dismissed by a federal judge in Michigan. The judge ruled that if "Congress had intended to prohibit unfunded mandates," it would have explicitly "stated that the federal government will reimburse the states for all costs they incur in complying with" the law. The NEA will appeal the ruling. The New York Times editorial board celebrated the decision, saying the suit was not about funding, but was rather a "transparent attempt by the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers' union, to sabotage the No Child Left Behind education act." The paper asked, "Why does it [the NEA] put so much emphasis on the teachers? What about the children whose lives are cast into permanent shadow when they have to attend dismal, nonperforming schools?" Good question. The Wall Street Journal focused on another recent judicial event wherein the Texas Supreme Court struck down a statewide property tax used to fund public schools and rejected the argument that Texas wasn't spending enough on education. The court declared, in what the editorial heralded as a momentous judicial first, that "more money does not guarantee better schools or more educated students," and it shifted the debate away from dollars and toward student achievement. The Journal's take on the case's repercussions: "Better send the paramedics to check for heart failure at National Education Association headquarters." The NEA gets hammered from the left and the right - ouch.

"A Victory for Education," New York Times, November 29, 2005

"Texas School Lesson," Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2005 (subscription required)

"Schools lose lawsuit, fear money crisis," by David Ashenfelter, Detroit Free Press, November 24, 2005

"NEA to appeal 'unfunded mandate' claim ruling," by Stephen Sawchuk, Education Daily, November 29, 2005 (subscription required)

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