Sectional interests killed the federal aid to education bill, James McCaskill, executive secretary of the National Education Association, said last night at 2 Divinity Ave.
In his analysis of the bill's defeat in the House of Representatives McCaskill concluded that a "crossfire of constituent pressure" and the "monolithic party position" of the Republicans were of primary importance. He found it "appalling" that a number of special interest groups both within the government bureaucracy and at the state level were able to prevent passage of the bill.
Opposition of Congressmen
The most important factor was the opposition of Congressmen from areas already receiving aid under bills providing aid to schools attended primarily by children of government employees.
He cited the pressure exerted by Southern Democrats, especially those in the House Rules Committee, who opposed the bill because they feared that increased federal aid to schools in the South would speed the integration process.
That sectional interests were of such importance in the controversy over the bill is at least partially due to the "traditional lopsidedness of the rural representation in the House which is less interested in this type of legislation than the representatives from urban areas," McCaskill said.
McCaskill noted that lobbies represented higher private education apparently underscored the importance of improving the quality of education offered at the grade-school and high-school level.
In commenting on the recent increase federal funds made available for study in the sciences, he said "money being spent solely on science education ignores the development of the broadly educated individual. This is an invitation to natural intellectual suicide."
Press Causes Trouble
The press caused a great deal of trouble in incorrectly identifying the bill as an "aid to parochial schools bill," McCaskill claimed, and attacked the Chamber of Commerce for opposing the bill is an attempt to reserve capital for over investment purposes.
There is no question, he said, that some issues are less important to the future of our country than the immediate need for improvement of our public schools from the first grade through high school The average teacher in the U.S. is "inadequately trained and generally uneducated."
"Must Not Remain Static"
He added that the "quality of our education must not remain static as a result of the attempt to meet the rapidly increasing number of students."
The problem facing the National Education Association's representatives in Washingotn is the strengthing of the "grass roots" support for the bill, said McCaskill. "Lobbying has got to reach down to the personal constituents of the members of Congress if it is going to be effective.