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NEA disappointed in Supreme Court’s decision to deny review of unfunded mandate case

Constitutional question of federal government’s role in education remains unanswered

WASHINGTON - June 07, 2010 -

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied the National Education Association’s petition to review the lower court decision in School District of Pontiac, Mich. v. Duncan, 09-852. The lawsuit, originally filed on April 20, 2005, asked the courts to recognize that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) requires the federal government to pay for the billions of dollars in mandates imposed by the law. The suit was based on a specific NCLB provision, (Sec. 9527(a)), which states: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an officer or employee of the Federal government to... mandate a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this Act.”

The School District of Pontiac, Mich. v. Duncan plaintiffs, including several school districts, alleged that because the federal government has never provided sufficient funding to cover the costs of NCLB compliance, states and school districts have had to divert funds away from proven educational programs to pay for the NCLB testing, paperwork and other requirements.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“We are disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied the National Education Association’s petition for certiorari in School District of Pontiac, Mich. v. Duncan. At stake is a fundamental constitutional question regarding the power of Congress to shift costs for compliance with federal education mandates to states and local districts without making it clear from the outset that the federal government will not cover the costs of compliance. 

“We believe that forcing school districts to divert precious funds from proven education reforms and critical education needs in order to comply with the NCLB mandates violates Sec. 9527(a). The law plainly states that the federal government cannot require states or school districts to pay for the costs of NCLB compliance. At a time when class sizes are skyrocketing, curriculum offerings are being slashed, and hundreds of thousands of educators are losing their jobs, we believe the federal government should make good on the promise of Sec. 9527(a) and excuse states and school districts from complying with the unfunded NCLB mandates.

“NEA will continue to advocate for sustainable, focused and evidence-based policies that support great public schools for all students. NEA and its 3.2 million members will continue working with Congress and the Obama administration as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is reauthorized to ensure that the federal law meets the needs of students, educators and public schools. We will work with the Obama administration and Congress to correct not only the funding shortfalls that have plagued our public schools but also the fundamental defects in the NCLB law.”

More information on NEA’s position on reauthorization of ESEA can be found online at   Follow us on twitter at

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers

CONTACT: Staci Maiers  (202) 822-7150,