The National Education Association and its local affiliates have given massive campaign contributions over the past three elections to House members favoring a department of education, but only a pittance to opponents of President Carter's proposed new department, according to a tabulation by the Public Service Research Council.
The council opposes the department of education bill and describes its own mission as "curbing the abuses of public sector unions."
It said current members of Congress favoring the Carter bill received $527,522 from the NEA from 1974 through '78, undecided members got $68,125, while those opposing the bill or leaning against got $98,880. The NEA is one of the major supporters of the bill.
The tabulation was released as the House prepared to start debate on the bill, possibly on Wednesday, amid prospects for a very hard fight. The Senate passed the Carter measure, 72 to 21 on April 30.
Robert Harman, association director of government relations for the NEA, said, "There's not a blessed thing wrong" with giving legitimate campaign contributions to House members based not merely on their position on the new department but "on a multitude of issue."
Harman said, "I don't preceive that as buying support."
The council said its vote-count shows the bill with a slight margin of support in the House, 194 to 182, but with 58 undecided who could turn the vote either way. However, NEA vote-counter Dale Lestina said the bill "is doing better than that" and already has over 200 votes.
President Carter, the NEA, the United Auto Workers, the National Urban League and a host of other organizations predict improved efficiency and coherence in pulling scattered federal education programs together into a single, more visible department.
But some civil rights groups and the American Federation of Teachers, NEA's rival, fear it would fragment poor, while conservatives say it could lead to federal domination of local education agencies.
According to the council tabulation, 12 House members got $10,000 or more from the NEA from 1974 through '78, led by Richard Nolan (-Minn.) at $23,100. A press aide to Nolan said the Minnesotan "is a social studies teacher by profession, he's supported the idea of a department a long time-since before President Carter proposed it," and the NEA "never asked anything" in return for the contributions.
The council said the second highest contribution total, $17,000, went to Norman Mineta (D-Calif.), third to Timothy Wirth (D-Colo.), $16,845, and fourth to Bob Carr (D-Mich.), $16,215. Wirth, a high school teacher before coming to Congress, said "we spent $730,000 in 1974-78, so $16,845 isn't a very large portion." Opponents of the bill gave him more than NEA in 1978, he said.
Several of the top 12 NEA recipients are listed by the council as being against the bill or leaning against, despite receiving NEA money. Rep. Jim Lloyd (D-Calif.), listed as receiving $12,450, "has been consistently against it," and aide said.
In the Maryland and Virginia delegations, Gladys Noon Spellman (D-Md.) was listed as receiving $6,000 and being a bill supporter; Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), $1,000, leaning against; Clarence D. Long (D-Md.), $275, undicided; Parren Mitchell (D-Md.), $100, against; Herbert Harris (D-Va.), $6,100, for; William C. Wampler (R-Va.), $300, against; and Joseph L. Fisher (D-Va.), $2,250, leaning for.