Representative Graham A. Barden of North Carolina was adamant that federal aid to education should be controlled by the States, and that no public money should go to private schools. On the other side was Catholic Rep. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who wanted federal money to help pay for bus service to parochial schools. Barden was a strident opponent of growing federal intrusion into States, stating that Federal housing officials are “piling up little caves and cliff dwellings in the city for people who have no jobs and expect to live off someone else.”
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Bad to Legislate for Minority Groups
“In the 1948 presidential campaign both political parties noted the need for improvements in public education. The Republican platform favored “equality of educational opportunity” and “promotion of educational facilities.” The Democrats forthrightly advocated “Federal aid for Education administered by and under the control of States.”
[Third District of North Carolina, US Representative] Graham Barden had approached the issue of Federal aid with reservations, but by 1949 he had become convinced that Federal assistance was necessary . . . but he was unwilling to accept Federal control or interference and would “not agree to the appropriation of Federal tax money to private or church schools.”
[Barden introduced his bill which] unequivocally prohibited States from allocating money to nonpublic schools. The bill also allowed taxpayers who felt this provision was being violated to bring suit in the Federal courts.
[On] June 14 Dwight David Eisenhower, then president of Columbia University, publicly stated his opposition to Federal laid because it would promote more control of the country by the central government. “In short,” he said, “unless we are careful, even the great and necessary educational processes in our country will become yet another vehicle by which the believers in paternalism, if not outright socialism, will gain additional power for the Federal Government.”
Barden, himself fearful of centralization, must have been amused to know that in the mind of the General he was promoting socialism.
The charge that the bill was discriminatory towards Negro children added a new dimension to the debate and was a charge Barden did not understand. He believed in the doctrine of separate but equal schools for Negro children, but . . . equal meant equal. As a member of the North Carolina State Legislature, he had been an advocate of paying Negro and white teachers the same, transporting the children of each race at State cost in the same manner, and providing buildings of the same quality.
Barden replied: “The charge of discrimination against Negroes is simply a piece of manufactured propaganda emanating from those who did not have the nerve to stand on the real objection to the bill, to wit that it prohibited the use of funds for private or parochial schools. Dealing specifically with the Negro question, my approach to this problem differed from the Senate approach. The Senate dealt with the Negro as a minority group. I dealt with them as being Americans for I fear it is a bad precedent for us to continue to legislate for minority groups.
When asked about the possibility of compromise, Barden [replied]:
“If you leave [the bill] open for supporting any private school [with public money], you leave it open for supporting any school that exists or may be organized – by anybody from the communists on up.”
(Graham A. Barden, Conservative Carolina Congressman, Elmer L. Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1979, excerpts, pp. 80-83; 86-89)