An article in this week's Time accurately lays out the crucial battle taking place between the Feds and the states over NCLB. Connecticut has filed a lawsuit and so has the NEA (see here), and Maine might follow suit (see here). Utah might well lose its federal Title I funding, and Texas has been fined for exempting too many special ed students from testing (see here). And the list grows. As Time notes, these lawsuits and protests are arriving just as studies are showing that NCLB is raising student achievement at many levels, which the article calls ironic, but not a coincidence, since the pain for states has also been ratcheted up. That has many politicians (especially the 36 governors up for reelection in 2008) wary of having schools fail on their watch and blaming NCLB for their problems. Time observes that NCLB-required testing is fairly cheap - it is the requirements of teacher training and after school tutoring for failing schools that have states up in arms. But again, NCLB isn't about money, it's about change. Time notes, "Over the past 50 years, the U.S. has tripled per-pupil spending in constant dollars, to roughly $10,800 a child, more than almost any other nation. And yet it gets average or below-average results compared with other First World countries." Education Week points out that attorneys are going to have a difficult time winning their lawsuits against the Feds. Procedurally, it will be tough to prove that the NEA has any standing to bring the case. (Even the NEA lawyers have their doubts about the case, according to memos obtained by the Washington Times). Legally, NCLB is simply not a mandate, as Utah is proving by rejecting it. The upcoming battles will be fierce. For the Feds, it's time to stick to their guns.
"Inside the revolt over Bush's school rules," by Amanda Ripley and Sonja Steptoe, Time, May 9, 2005 (subscription required)
"Maine suit challenging No Child Left Behind sought in bill," Associated Press, May 6, 2005
"NCLB cases face hurdles in the courts," by Caroline Hendrie, Education Week, May 4, 2005
"NEA's memo contradicts its lawsuit," by George Archibald, Washington Times, May 1, 2005