Connecticut sues to leave “No Child” behind

The state of Connecticut filed a lawsuit Monday against the federal government arguing that the No Child Left Behind act is illegal because it provides no federal funding for its requirements.

“The goals of the No Child Left Behind Act are laudable,” said state attorney general Richard Blumental. “Indeed, Connecticut has pursued these goals for decades, but the federal government has failed in implementing them.”

Connecticut’s chief complaint with the law has been testing. The state, which has been administering its own mastery test for 20 years, wants to continue testing every other year. The federal law requires annual testing, and federal education officials have repeatedly denied the state’s requests for leniency.

“This mindless rigidity harms our taxpayers, but most of all our children,” Blumenthal said. — Associated Press

In Connecticut, state law prohibits using state funds to pay for the federally mandated testing. The federal funds available are projected to be $41.6 million short of paying for the law’s requirements through 2008, according to a recent report.

“We need accountability. Our children deserve it,” said Gov. M. Jodi Rell, “but we in Connecticut do a lot of testing already, far more than most other states. Our taxpayers are sagging under the crushing costs of local education. What we don’t need is a new laundry list of things to do ‘ with no new money to do them.”

Connecticut is one of many states that have clashed with the U.S. Department of Education over No Child Left Behind. Nevertheless, Blumenthal, despite months of effort, was unable to persuade other states to join the lawsuit.

“That’s because almost every other state is in the process of asking the U.S. Department of Education for changes” in the interpretation of the law, said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy in Washington, D.C., a private nonprofit group that monitors education policy. “I think they’re afraid that if they file suit they won’t get the changes they’re asking for.”

As for Connecticut officials, “I think they’re fed up,” he said. The lawsuit “is a clear signal there is a great deal of discontent with the law.”

That discontent was evident at Blumenthal’s press conference, where educators and politicians blasted the federal law.

State Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, compared the federal education department to a playground bully.

“While there are not other states that are currently joining us in this litigation, they are cheering us on because we are taking on the bully,” he said. — Hartford Courant

It’s about time the playground bully got what he deserves.