The No Child Left Behind lawsuit

It's often said-in both criticism and defense of the American legal system-that anyone can sue anyone else.

Of course there are a few exceptions to the rule: one exception is the concept of sovereign immunity, the modern description of the feudal rule that the king can do no wrong. This has been adopted for political safety and legal shelter by all levels of contemporary government-just look at the recent events in Berkshire as an example.

Another exception to the "sue anyone" rule arises when a court declines to hear a case. This has just happened in a suit against the feds brought by a handful of states-proudly led by Vermont and proudly championed by former RNESU school superintendent William Mathis. (The suit demands and argues on behalf of public education for-no surprise-more money.)

Mathis based his argument on the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, Public Law 104-4, which was adopted in 1995 to quell taxpayer negative response to a number of federal demands; these demands stated that private citizens must make public investments without reimbursement; for example, that businessowners must rebuild their existing facilities to meet new federal handicap access requirements.

The lawsuit just noted is aimed at the No Child Left Behind legislation of 2001 which requires that public education do a better job of public education as measured in basic school subjects such as reading and math via the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress tests.

Federal involvement in education comes as the Big String attached to federal money for schools-maybe ten percent of typical school budgets.

Whether public schools could reject this money, cut the Big String, and teach as they wish is a legal question which hasn't yet been legally argued. However, there's one successful example of private education already doing just that: Hillsdale College in Michigan.

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