Hatch Said To Seek Compromise on Desegregation-Aid Stalemate

May 02, 1984 3 min read

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, is circulating among his committee colleagues a “compromise” plan intended to end a legislative stalemate that has held up for nearly a year a $425-million bill to upgrade mathematics and science education.

Mr. Hatch is proposing that an amendment earmarking $60 million in desegregation aid be added to the mathematics and science bill, S1285. The amendment would target $50 million in fiscal 1985 for magnet schools and $10 million for science and technology summer camps in school systems that lost more than $1 million in desegregation aid when the Emergency School Assistance Act was folded in the Chapter 2 education block-grant program in 1981.

Bill Held Up

Though the mathematics and science legislation was passed by the committee last May, Mr. Hatch has refused to bring it to a vote before the full Senate because several members, including Thomas F. Eagleton, Democrat of Missouri, and Daniel P. Moynihan, Democrat of New York, have expressed their intention to attach an amendment to the bill that would resurrect the desegregation-aid program, with funding of $100 million annually.

Senator Hatch opposes the so-called “Eagleton amendment” on the grounds that it is too costly, that it will be vetoed by the President and thus jeopardize the mathematics and science initiative, and that it includes language stipulating specific levels of racial participation in programs, according to Ronald P. Preston, an aide to the Senator.

Earlier Version Rejected

In calling on the Secretary of Education to give grants to school systems to set up and operate magnet programs, Mr. Hatch’s proposal, circulated last week, is similar to one he made in January that was rejected by Mr. Eagleton and others. They argued that it was underfunded, not targeted to school systems that are currently desegregating their schools, and lacking in civil-rights safeguards.

However, the new proposal includes language requiring school systems seeking to renew their grants to “demonstrate by objective measures” that their programs bring students “from different backgrounds” together and improve their academic performance.

In what Mr. Preston said was a response to a request by Senator Eagleton, the proposal also includes language requiring that the programs meet the anti-discrimination standards of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Mr. Preston said Senator Hatch has targeted the majority of the funding under the proposal for magnet programs because he feels, based on recent statements by the Justice Department favoring magnet schools, that the Administration will support the proposal. In addition, the aide said, Mr. Hatch feels magnet schools, with their “essential nature of attraction,” are “a much better way to desegregate schools than assigning students on the basis of their race.”

‘Same Outline’

Marcia McCord Verville, an aide to Senator Eagleton, said the new proposal is ‘the same outline [as the January proposal] put in legislative language.”

“There is room for further discussion,” she said, “but as presently constructed, we do not find it a reasonable compromise.” She added that Senator Eagleton “is not trying to hold up the math-science bill.”

“We told Hatch’s people that we were willing to attach the desegregation-aid amendment to any bill that was not a dog, but we never heard from them,” she said.

Countered Mr. Preston: “We’ve been trying to compromise in good faith; we made our original proposal in January, but we didn’t hear from them for months. The question is, ‘How long are they going to sit on their hands?”’

“Frankly,” he added, “their real intention seems to be to embarrass the President” by portraying Republicans in the Senate as tying up the mathematics and science bill.

Aides of senators who support the Eagleton amendment were scheduled to meet late last week to discuss the new proposal by Senator Hatch.--tt

A version of this article appeared in the May 02, 1984 edition of Education Week as Hatch Said To Seek Compromise on Desegregation-Aid Stalemate