Even though a federal appeals court believes NCLB is an unfunded mandate, state and local officials should spend their money to comply with the law, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings says.
In a letter sent to state education chiefs today, Spellings writes that last week’s 2-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit doesn’t settle the thorny question of whether states and districts must spend their own money on NCLB requirements. Spellings is “exploring all legal remedies to overturn the decision,” she writes. Meanwhile, school officials should plan on meeting all of the law’s requirements.
“No state or school district should regard the ruling as license to disregard NCLB’s requirements,” Spellings concludes.
The next step in the legal process could be in any of several different venues--before the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, a larger panel of 6th Circuit judges in Cincinnati, or a federal district judge in Detroit. The legal battle is unlikely to be resolved this year.
But the next step in the political arena will be when President Bush proposes his fiscal 2009 budget early next month. And the unfunded mandate debate will go on all year in Congress and on the campaign trail.
NOTE: The department doesn’t have a copy of the letter on its Web site. I’ll add a link when it does.
UPDATE: EdWeek’s crackerjack Web team posted a copy of Spellings’ letter on our server here.
A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.