Bulletin #41  CT Sues Over No Child Left Behind               04/05/2005


Did you know?  Connecticut’s Attorney General is suing the federal government over No Child Left Behind, claiming it is illegal and unconstitutional.



The Connecticut Attorney General announced plans to sue the U.S. Department of Education for requiring Connecticut to expand its student testing program without providing enough money to cover the cost. 


One would think at first blush that Connecticut’s Attorney General actually has read the Constitution and is applying it. A closer look, however, reveals otherwise.


The Connecticut Attorney General almost had it right.  For the federal government to mandate states to do anything about education is unconstitutional, that is, if the federal government is not providing money to the states.  That’s because, as NHELD continually has stated, the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:


“The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”


The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:


“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” 


The power to regulate education is not a power delegated to the federal government, therefore, it is a power that is reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.  The federal government gets around this problematic provision, nonetheless, by utilizing the United States Supreme Court interpretations of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, Article One, Section 8, which reads in relevant part:


“The Congress shall have Power…To regulate Commerce…among the several States…”


Thanks to judicial interpretation, the federal government uses this clause to assume authority to regulate all manner of activities as long as federal money is attached to the activity.  That is why the federal government dictates to the states what to do about education issues. Because the states want to receive federal money, the states acquiesce to the regulation that goes along with that money.  CT State Senator, Thomas Gaffey, Co-Chair of the Education Committee publicly stated that this amounts to nothing more than extortion.


In this case, the Connecticut Attorney General is suing the federal government claiming No Child Left Behind, a federal law proscribing conduct primarily in public schools, is unconstitutional.  The state of CT doesn’t want to adhere to the mandates of No Child Left Behind.  One would think that’s a good thing.  The state is finally telling the federal government to pay attention to the tenets of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and to leave education up to the states and to the people.  But that’s not really what Connecticut’s illustrious Attorney General is actually saying.  He’s saying, in essence, No Child Left Behind is unconstitutional because it doesn’t provide enough federal money to the states.  The Attorney General is telling the federal government to give the states even more federal money for education.  He’s not telling the federal government to stay out of education; he’s telling the federal government to stay in education and to get even more deeply involved in education in the states by providing even more federal money. 


States don’t have to comply with No Child Left Behind and they don’t have to sue the federal government to do so.  All states have to do is to just say “NO” to the federal money.  If the states do not accept the federal money that goes along with No Child Left Behind, the states do not have to comply with any of the so-called “requirements” contained in No Child Left Behind.  Vermont very seriously considered this option. There are in fact many townships that do not participate in Title 1 funding. Some legislators fear that if they don’t take advantage of the federal money then taxes will rise to compensate for the loss of federal revenue. The question has now been raised, "would you pay more in taxes if it meant your autonomy as a state, or even as an individual?"  Consider also the money that would be saved, and the education that can really happen if kids are not saddled with teachers teaching to the tests rather than teaching what is necessary.      


Can we not tell our legislators to pay attention to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution?  Can we not tell them how important those amendments are, not just for homeschoolers but also for all taxpaying citizens? 


Will officials in all branches of government ever really read, pay attention to, and apply the Constitution properly?  NHELD hopes so for all of our sakes.




Attorney Deborah Stevenson - Executive Director of National Home Education Legal Defense.www.nheld.com or email : info@nheld.com

Judy Aron - Director of Research, NHELD – imjfaron@sbcglobal.net