Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Education

Humanities Endowment Bows To Affirmative-Action Rules

By Alina Tugend — January 29, 1986 2 min read

The National Endowment for the Humanities, reversing a policy established by its former chairman, Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, has reluctantly agreed to comply with statutes requiring it to set numerical goals and timetables annually for recruiting women and minorities.

“It is instructive to see how low our sense of justice has fallen in recent times,” said the acting N.E.H. chairman, John Agresto, in a prepared statement. “Men and women, we were once taught, were to be judged on the content of their character, not on the color of their skins. These required goals and timetables mock that view.”

Under Section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended and Section 310 of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, all 110 federal agencies must file affirmative-action plans.

As part of a management directive issued in 1979 by the E.E.O.C., all federal agencies must also file reports that include goals and timetables for specific job classifications, “which should take into account the availability of basically qualified persons in the relevant job market.” The N.E.H., under Mr. Bennett’s leadership, refused in 1984 and 1985 to submit the required goals and timetables.

Refusal To Comply

Along with the N.E.H., the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission submitted incomplete reports in 1985.

An aide to Mr. Bennett told a House subcommittee last year that he would not file goals and timetables for the Education Department.

Currently, the executive order and the statutes do not specify penalties for agencies that fail to comply. Representative Cardiss Collins, Democrat of Illinois, introduced a bill last year that would provide for court action against such agencies, but the bill is stalled in a House subcommittee.

However, in legislation reauthorizing the N.E.H. last month, the Congress inserted language requiring that by Jan. 31, the chairman of the N.E.H. “shall transmit to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission each plan and each report required under any regulation or management directive that is issued by the commission.”

The N.E.H. is reauthorized every five years. The agency could jeopardize its funding--$132 million for fiscal 1986--if it does not comply with the order.

‘Ridiculous Posture’

Of a total N.E.H. professional staff of 93, 56 are women, Mr. Agresto pointed out. Of those 56 women, 7 are black, 2 are Asian, and 1 is Hispanic. There are no black, Hispanic, or Asian men on the professional staff.

Of the 245 administrative, technical, and other staff members, 73 are minorities, and 180 are either women or minorities, he said.

Consequently, Mr. Agresto said, the N.E.H. is required to target male minorities and non-black minority women when openings occur.

But the E.E.O.C. does not require agencies to target white males, according to Mr. Agresto, even if they are “underrepresented” in terms of total numbers.

“What a ridiculous posture this agency must now assume when, in carrying out these required ‘goals,’ we have to say to women, including black women, that they will not be judged equally with others, that others are being given a race and sex preference over them,” Mr. Agresto said.

“We’re certainly glad the agency decided to comply with the intent and requirements of the law,” said S. Gray Garwood, staff director for the House Subcommittee on Select Education, which oversees the agency. “I’m a little confused as to why Mr. Agresto confuses personal conviction with the Administration’s law, which he is required to uphold.”

A version of this article appeared in the January 29, 1986 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Special Education Teachers
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read