Allies Question NEA’s Legal Strategy, Prefer a Political One

January 17, 2008 1 min read

As I pointed out earlier this week, the National Education Association is using a tactic from the Republican playbook in its legal fight against NCLB.

Some of its key allies aren’t playing along.

The American Federation of Teachers decided to stay on the sidelines when the NEA filed its lawsuit claiming that NCLB is an unfunded mandate.

“We took a different tack,” Ed McElroy, the AFT’s president, told me this week. “We said: ‘Let’s try to fix it at the congressional level’ because we felt we had a decent shot at doing that.” McElroy said he remains confident that he made the correct choice.

And a legal advocate who has dedicated 15 years to winning increased funding for New York schools also questions the strategy. In his blog, EdFunding Matters, Michael Rebell writes that he’s concerned that “the kids will lose whatever the outcome.” If NEA wins, states and districts may use that as an excuse to cut funding. If it loses, the federal government will be emboldened to set policies from Washington that it won’t pay for.

“The best outcome here would be a political solution that forces all concerned finally to focus on the critical cost question that has largely been ignored since NCLB went into effect six years ago,” writes Rebell, who worked closely with the New York City teachers union to win a lawsuit that has delivered dramatic increases in funding for the city and across the state.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.