Connecticut has actually sued the feds over the unfunded mandates in NCLB as the Connecticut Attorney General stated, “Our message today is give up the unfunded mandates, or give us the money." Ohio has joined in the rebellion against NCLB as their state leaders claim that the state will spend about $1.5 billion each year on NCLB which is much more than it now gets from the federal government to implement the law.
NCLB is part of a very disturbing and ever-increasing trend of the federal government sticking its nose into state education matters. Education is a 10th Amendment issue which carries with it a state and local responsibility. Many states were already well on the road to improving their own standards and testing when NCLB was passed. Now the states are finding the federal law interferes with those efforts. Many state critics say the previous Republican Congress appropriated $8 billion less last year than originally promised. States all across the country are saying no to NCLB.
Arizona could easily opt out of NCLB, thus avoiding the negative windfall of unfunded mandates, and place the saved monies into the resource deprived Arizona classrooms. This begs the question of why the Arizona Legislature cannot do the simple arithmetic and realize the NCLB is the Titanic of education. Perhaps the answer lies in what former Sheriff of Graham County, Richard Mack, told me when said that he personally heard Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction tell a Republican lunch gathering that “NCLB is a disaster, but the money is too good to turn away.” Maybe, Mr. Horne left his bean counter at home that day as he fails to grasp what most public servants in Arizona fail to grasp, NCLB is bankrupting our public education system. Or perhaps, cartoonist Steve Benson (6/29/2009) sums it up best in the following manner:
What is the capital of Hawaii? Government”
Along these lines, I ask the question, “Who knows best how to educate our children? The answer is apparently the Government as the government is presumably the answer to all of our problems. And why can’t the Arizona Legislature do the simple math and get us out of NCLB? Answer: Because most of these Mensa-type legislators went to government schools.
Every state has a choice when it comes to NCLB. We need to ask why the questions raised in part two of this series are conspicuously missing from the public debate on education.