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Court won’t hear ‘No Child’ challenge

Conn. sought to shift cost to US

By Stephanie Reitz
Associated Press / February 23, 2011

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HARTFORD — The US Supreme Court decided against hearing Connecticut’s challenge to the federal No Child Left Behind law yesterday, ending the state’s six-year lawsuit over how to pay for the stepped-up student testing considered one of the law’s cornerstones.

Connecticut was the first state to challenge the 2002 law, which includes provisions requiring yearly standardized tests for children in grades three through eight. Connecticut previously tested students in grades four, six and eight.

The state’s lawsuit sought to push the federal government to either change its testing rules or cover the extra testing costs, which Connecticut officials say add up to many millions of dollars.

The high court’s decision not to hear the state’s appeal came after a federal judge and the 2d US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York both had agreed in earlier rulings that the lawsuit was premature.

Former state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, now the state’s junior senator, had argued that Connecticut could not be forced to absorb those extra costs because of a provision barring unfunded mandates on the states.

Connecticut’s options were unclear yesterday as word of the decision spread among state lawmakers and administrators.

Education Department spokesman Thomas Murphy said the costs have been one of several topics of discussion as Congress considers whether to revamp the No Child Left Behind law.

The Connecticut lawsuit wasn’t universally praised in its home state, however.

The Connecticut State Conference of the NAACP received a federal judge’s permission in 2006 to intervene in the suit on the side of the federal Department of Education.

The NAACP argued that the state was pursuing the lawsuit with money that could be used for other purposes. They also worried that voiding the law could set a precedent to allow the circumventing of many civil rights statutes.