Federal aid to education had its beginnings in post-WW2 bills to assist local schools dealing with the increase of students caused by nearby military bases, and thus spurring a long-range policy of general aid to schools throughout the country followed by federal interference and control. Congressman Graham A. Barden of New Bern, North Carolina supported federal aid but without federal control.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
Opposition to Crusading Programs of Some People
“Although Congress adjourned in 1950 without enacting a comprehensive aid program, Barden remained convinced that the public school system in most States were in great need of assistance . . . However, he was still insistent that the “Federal government must not have anything to do with the running of the schools” and that “tax money should go for public schools only.” While announcing his intention to continue work for Federal aid, he could not compromise on these two points.
Representative Jacob Javits questioned whether Federal funds could be used legally by segregated public schools. Barden, who was floor manager for the [H.R.5411] bill, heatedly replied that the question of segregated schools in the Carolinas was not the business of the congressman from New York.
All the bill did, Barden asserted, was to set up a system “that could operate without friction in the State in which it was located and become an integral part of the State, and not be part of any of these crusading programs that some people are so anxious to establish in the Country.” He suspected that Javits was simply creating dissension with the aim of settling nothing.
The President [Truman] said that the purpose of Barden’s bill was meritorious, but he objected to the provision requiring schools to conform to State laws . . . Baden was disappointed by Truman’s action because he believed that without the section to which the President objected, the bill’s passage would have been impossible.
Far more disturbing to the congressman than Republican control of Congress was the opinion of Chief Justice Earl Warren in Brown v. Board of Education . . . [and] many Southerners began to have second thoughts about Federal aid programs of all types. The decision probably accounted for Barden’s sudden disinterest in Federal aid. Immediately following the decision he wrote:
“The decision came as such a shock to us that as yet we aren’t able to evaluate all of its far-flung ramifications . . . I believe the decision was unwise, inappropriate and ill-timed, and it appears that political considerations were a controlling influence on the decree.”
With the Court’s decisions, knowing that Federal interference was bound to follow, he turned against the crusade for an aid program. He had always been opposed to Federal control, and perhaps as early as 1954 he clearly saw that Federal money would be the chief means of bringing . . . involvement by the Federal government in operation of the schools in the Southern States.
Because the Brown case dealt with racial matters, a lot of superficial analysts glibly checked off Barden’s opposition to Federal aid as being racially motivated. Their judgment was unsound. If the Brown case had dealt with something such as curriculum content, textbook selection or the like, his opposition would have been the same. What turned him off was not race, but the firm conviction that with Federal dollars came Federal regulators to interfere with the operation of the local schools.”
(Graham A. Barden, Conservative Carolina Congressman, Elmer L. Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1979, excerpts, pp. 101-108)