Federal File: The education lobby applauds its heroes
Members of the education community gathered last week to toast themselves and their Congressional allies at what has become the event of the year for those whose blood pressure rises at the thought of inadequate appropriations for Chapter 1 or student aid.
The list of those attending the Committee for Education Funding's third annual awards dinner represented a who's who among education lobbyists and included enough Congressional aides to overstuff a Rolodex.
The honorees--all lawmakers with the exception of Owen B. Butler, chairman of the Committee for Economic Development--cheerfully played the role of guest cheerleaders at the education-budget pep rally.
"Education is the way you get something in your head so you don't have to work with your hands," said Representative Louis Stokes, Democrat of Ohio, who was lauded for his work on the House Appropriations Committee.
"When I first ran for office [in 1972], it would have been political suicide to suggest that there was a federal role in education," said Senator Robert T. Stafford of Vermont. In contrast, he noted, this year both Presidential candidates are making a show of their support for education programs.
The "education leadership award" for "lifelong commitment" is the latest in a string of honors for the Senate education subcommittee's ranking Republican, who retires this year.
Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, had a more acerbic view of the Presidential campaign.
Without naming names, he criticized those who "tend to brand those who support federal aid to education as liberal, to brand us as stupid and unpatriotic," adding: "We have to stamp that out of this campaign."
Countering an assertion made by Vice President George Bush during last week's Presidential debate, the California Democrat insisted that education spending had decreased in terms of constant dollars.
"I'm not being partisan, just trying to indicate that some of us are spreading falsehoods," he said.
The loudest applause went to Representative William H. Natcher, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending.
The Kentucky Democrat said he told Administration officials this year that they were "finally on the right road" by proposing a $21-billion education budget.
"If I had my way, it would be $50 billion," he said.--jm