Progress Slight on E.S.A.A. Funds
Washington--Proponents of a measure to resurrect a $100-million federal program to aid school districts undergoing desegregation held a "marginally" fruitful meeting with representatives of their chief foe in the Senate here last week.
According to leaders of the National Committee for School Desegregation, aides to Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and chairman of the chamber's Labor and Human Resources Committee, "indicated some willingness to compromise" during the meeting; their attitude, the leaders said, "was generally one of inflexibility, but not total inflexibility."
Since last May, Senator Hatch has declined to report a highly popular measure to improve the quality of mathematics and science instruction to the floor of the Senate. He has held it back, his aides say, because Senate supporters of the measure to revive the desegregation-assistance program, which was folded into the Chapter 2 education block-grants program in 1981, have planned to attach it as a rider to the $425-million mathematics-and-science bill.
In order to break the nine-month deadlock, Senator Hatch last month offered to add $60 million to the mathematics-and-science bill for large urban districts that lost funds as a result of the consolidation of the desegregation program, known as the Emergency School Aid Act, into the education block grants to the states.
According to Larry O. Maynard, a past president of the school-desegregation committee, the organization "has three main problems with the offer."
"First, there just isn't enough money," he said. "Second, it never even mentions desegregation. And third, the distribution formula that he sets up would close out a lot of small cities that lost out when esaa was abolished."
Mr. Maynard said Senator Hatch's aides are willing to add language to the compromise regarding civil-rights protections, but that "the trade off would be the inclusion of language dealing with academic achievement and teacher testing."
He said that although the organization will continue its negotiations with Senator Hatch, it will also continue to encourage its members to lobby for the passage of the measure.--tm