Unfunded-mandate Claim Could Arise in ESEA Debate
By Alyson Klein | Ed Week
June 15, 2010
Fresh from a snub by the U.S. Supreme Court, the National Education Association is turning to Congress to address its concerns that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—in the form of the 8-year-old No Child Left Behind Act—is an unfunded mandate.
Alice O’Brien, the general counsel for the 3.2 million-member NEA, said the high court’s June 7 refusal to consider a challenge by the nation’s largest teachers’ union and nine school districts to the NCLB law is the “end of the line” for the lawsuit, but not for the argument that the law places an undue financial burden on states.
“Our schools are now in a terrible economic crisis,” said Ms. O’Brien. Class sizes are ballooning and “we have curriculums that are being slashed,” she said. “To have federal mandates that are unfunded being placed on top of that really results in terrible policy choices.”
In considering the reauthorization of the ESEA, of which No Child Left Behind is the current version, lawmakers “need to think through that issue very clearly, and NEA will encourage them to do so,” Ms. O’Brien said.
The justices issued no comment in declining the appeal in School District of the City of Pontiac v. Duncan (Case No. 09-852).
Appeals Court Deadlocked
The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, deadlocked 8-8 over the case last OctoberRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader. That affirmed a 2005 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan that dismissed the case.