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Rell supports suit by state on NCLB
Ohanian Comment: Unfortunately, the editorial writers seem to see only the money issue.
Plaudits to Gov. M. Jodi Rell for putting politics aside and doing what's right for Connecticut's taxpayers and public school children.
Although she apparently has reservations about such a course of legal action, the governor on Monday signed into law a measure authorizing the state attorney general to sue the federal government over the No Child Left Behind law.
It's an action worth taking on behalf of Connecticut and its residents.
The law imposes a broad range of unfunded mandates on the state and its public schools. However, the U.S. Department of Education has been totally inflexible on allowing interpretation of the law by Connecticut officials.
For example, Connecticut for many years has conducted one of the best student testing programs in the nation. It's a model used by other states. Yet, the federal agency has flatly refused the state's request for a waiver not to expand standardized testing to three more grades next year as required by NCLB.
The result will be extra testing that state education officials argue will yield little benefit to teachers or students.
Atop that, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who first raised the possibility of the lawsuit, says the mandates being forced upon the state and its school districts are illegal because they are unfunded. He pegs the cost to Connecticut taxpayers at $440 million by 2008.
Certainly, there are many pluses to No Child Left Behind in terms of raising awareness of problem school districts and holding districts and their schools accountable.
However, like too many mandates of government, the funding to attack the problems hasn't been appropriated by Congress, which chooses, instead, to shift the costs to state and local taxpayers.
Rell's signing of the legislation, approved in special session last month, is commendable because she's a Republican governor crossing swords with what is considered one of the hallmarks of the Bush White House.
But her action is typical of her independent thinking since taking office more than a year ago and her emphasis on doing what right for the state and its citizens.
Many states have clashed with the U.S. Department of Education on the provisions of No Child Left Behind. Hopefully, some will now join with Connecticut to move federal officials to a more flexible and enlightened position on implementing the law.
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