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Connecticut Post - Shays Criticized on Education

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Location: Trumbull, CT

Connecticut Post - Shays Criticized on Education

U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, got failing marks Wednesday from four Democratic first selectmen who said he's part of the reason local taxes are going up.

The four Kenneth Flatto of Fairfield, Thomas Buzi of Monroe, Raymond G. Baldwin Jr. of Trumbull and Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers of Oxford joined Jim Himes, their party's endorsed candidate in the 4th Congressional District, to complain that federal education mandates under the No Child Left Behind Act are straining local resources because Congress doesn't provide money to meet the requirements.

"This No Child Left Behind initiative, though well-intentioned, fails miserably," complained Baldwin, who hosted the news conference at the Trumbull Library.

Buzi held up two pages of listings of unfunded mandates from the state and federal governments, saying it eats 2 percent of his town's budget. "If you're going to vote for something in the Congress, you have to fund it," he said.

Himes' campaign estimated that shortfalls in various education mandates are costing towns in the district, which stretches from Greenwich to Oxford, an estimated $50 million annually, but did not break that down individually by town or program.

Himes, nominated at a convention last month, faces an Aug. 12 primary challenge from fellow Greenwich resident Lee Whitnum.

He said he would fight for the money so those local officials don't have to raise taxes to meet the education requirements.

"I will go to Congress to make sure this law is reformed," vowed Himes, a businessman turned nonprofit executive. He called the situation "nothing short of a catastrophe." Local officials have long felt burdened by the NCLB law because it requires annual standardized tests and the passing standards are set higher yearly. The law can prove expensive because if a school doesn't meet the specified standards, local districts are required to offer measures such as extra tutoring or placement in alternative schools.

Meanwhile, Shays' campaign manager, Michael Sohn, said it's the Democrats who have failed.

"It's a Democrat Congress," he said. "If the Democrats in Congress were serious about fully funding to the authorized levels of No Child Left Behind, it would be done by now and Chris would have fully supported it." ...

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