Question #1:

This is not the first time I hear the following construction being used on the TV news in the U.S. But, there is something really consufing about the usage of the past perfect tense here:

"The N.Y. State United Teachers Union had sued the Board of Regents last spring, after the board decided to

allow up to 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation to be based on scores."

Isn't that the decision "to allow up to..." precedes the suing action? I would've written it as: "... Union sued, after the board had decided to allow up..." Is there a mistake here?

Source: NY1 http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:dTzmMVM0bfEJ:www.ny1.com/content/news_beats/...

Question #2:

In the same text:

"A union representative said the ruling is good for students and teachers." Isn't it supposed to be: "A union representative said the ruling WAS good for students and teachers" following the reported speech rules.

Another case:
"The N.Y. State United Teachers Union had sued the Board of Regents last spring, after the board decided to

allow up to 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation to be based on scores."-- What has happened here is that 'had sued' predates another past event in the greater context, while the verb in the dependent clause ('decided') remains in the simple past (a common phenomenon: only the main clause will normally take the past perfect.

A union representative said the ruling is good for students and teachers." Isn't it supposed to be: "A union representative said the ruling WAS good for students and teachers" following the reported speech rules.-- It could be, but if the general idea is that the ruling is still good now, then the reported verb need not regress.
Thank you for your answers! The complete excerpt in the first question is as follows:

"The State Supreme Court ruled on the side of the city teachers today, saying that according to an existing law only 20 percent of teachers' evaluations can be based on standardized test scores.

The N.Y. State United Teachers Union had sued the Board of Regents last spring, after the board decided to allow up to 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation to be based on scores."

Per your reply, I see that in the first paragraph "the Court ruled" is the action preceding the past perfect tense usage in the second paragraph. Is that correct?
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Yes. The court ruled today; the teachers had sued last spring.
Mister Micawber"The N.Y. State United Teachers Union had sued the Board of Regents last spring, after the board decided to
allow up to 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation to be based on scores."-- What has happened here is that 'had sued' predates another past event in the greater context, while the verb in the dependent clause ('decided') remains in the simple past (a common phenomenon: only the main clause will normally take the past perfect.
This is the sort of thing that I needed help for.

Could the bolded sentence above be written in this way as well-

The N.Y. State United Teachers Union had sued the Board of Regents last spring, after the board had decided to
allow up to 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation to be based on scores.

Would it lead to confusion or would it just be incorrect?

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I came across this a few days ago-

It all started with a 12-year-old boy who came home from school very upset. His teacher had told his class that ___ and ____ were alternatives to ____.

past perfect + simple past

But in this one-

Past perfect twice.

Kelly lost a pool contest at a pub and became angry, saying he had lost because the teenager had not supported him.
Past perfect is not needed twice. Native speakers do not usually regress the dependent verb in the past, just as in the future: 'I'll tell you when I see you tomorrow'. Nevertheless, many writers do use the past perfect the 2nd time as well.
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By the way, let's say there was another sentence after this-

It all started with a 12-year-old boy who came home from school very upset. His teacher had told his class that ___ and ____ were alternatives to __.

- what tense would you use for it?

eg-

His teacher had told his class that ___ and ____ were alternatives to ____. He/She had also told his class that... or he/she also told his class that....

Honestly? --

His teacher had told his class that ___ and ____ were alternatives to __ and that...
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