Federal File: Family tradition ends; Eating one's words

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When the House Education and Labor Committee convenes its first meeting in 1993, it will sit for the first time in 43 years without a Perkins on the roster.

Representative Carl C. Perkins, Democrat of Kentucky, announced recently that he will not run for re-election, declining to endure what could have been a difficult campaign due to Congressional redistricting.

Mr. Perkins's father, the late Carl D. Perkins, was instrumental in the creation of most major federal education programs during his 35 years in the Congress. His iron-fisted rule of the committee, which he chaired from 1968 until his death in 1984, was legendary.

His son, then 30 years old, assumed his seat, and has been known primarily for his advocacy of vocational education.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, tried to change the formula through which Chapter 1 funds are allocated to states during Senate debate on an unrelated education bill Jan. 23.

Mr. Hatch, whose state receives less federal education funding than any other, was reopening a fight that has raged since the compensatory-education program was created in 1965.

The current formula multiplies a state's population of poor children by a figure representing its average per-pupil expenditure.

The formula works to the benefit of Northern states and their urban school districts. Mr. Hatch proposed removing the multiplier, an idea that he has promoted many times before.

"I don't know why a poverty formula gives more funds to poor children in a wealthy state than it gives to poor children in a poor state," Mr. Hatch said, noting that 28 states--a majority--would gain funds under his plan.

But Senator Edward M. Kennedy was ready for him. His voice dripping with sarcasm, the Massachusetts Democrat read remarks Mr. Hatch made in 1983, when someone else made a similar proposal, and circumstances apparently made Mr. Hatch desirous of avoiding the distraction.

"It is ridiculous to believe that the just balancing of interests, the resolution of conflicting claims of equity and injustice, can be accomplished by a few minutes' discussion on the floor of the Senate," Mr. Hatch said nine years ago.

He contended that senators with no time to weigh the issue would "simply vote oar pocketbooks."

"is this the type of reflection we owe these disadvantaged students?" he asked.

The proposal was defeated in 1983, and again in 1992 by a vote of 55 to 37. --J.M.

Vol. 11, Issue 20, Page 21

Published in Print: February 5, 1992, as Federal File: Family tradition ends; Eating one's words
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