blumenthal getting ready to kick federal butt

Connecticut’s attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, clearly wants to be governor some day. The problem is, he’s such a great attorney general that most of the voters here see to want him to stay right where he is. For example, he is now planning to sue the federal government for imposing a burden on states that the feds are not also providing funds to pay for, ergo, the No Child Left Behind law. The details, from WTNH:

(WTNH, Apr. 5, 2005 8:30 PM) _ Connecticut is taking action against the No Child Left Behind law. It’s becoming the first state in the nation to sue the federal government claiming the law violates the constitution.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said today it is the schools ultimately that suffer. He says the federal government requires the tests—they should pay for the tests but somehow, Connecticut winds up footing a large chunk of the bill.

Most students strive for “A’s,” but when it comes to the Federal Government and the No Child Left Behind Act, or NCLB, what grade would the Connecticut Attorney General give? “The Federal Government deserves an “F” or below for failing to follow the law,” he said from his office in Hartford.

Blumenthal ... says states are forced to spend millions of dollars above what federal funding provides to create standardized testing under the NCLB ... “State and local taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for this federal policy according to Congress itself.”

Blumenthal adds Connecticut has a 20-year track record of successful testing in grades 4, 6, 8, and 10. Under NCLB, the state is forced to test students annually, resulting in an additional $8 million at the state’s expense. “The uncovered costs are so clear and so large, the law is clearly violated.”

... Blumenthal doesn’t deny the idea of NCLB is valid. He just feels the methodology to accomplishing those goals is not. “We have no alternative but to go to court.”

I’m just wondering if the idea of NCLB really is valid. I have yet to see even one news story about it working to raise reading scores. I suspect NCLB is a first class demonstration of the law of unintended consequences—a concept that fascinated me when I first studied it in grad school under Robert Merton. It explains how sometimes even the most well-intentioned government programs can go so badly awry.

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