Vice President Mondale today hailed the record of the Carter administration on education and urged members of the nation's largest teachers' organization to help in the congressional fight for a department of education.
The Carter administration, Mondale said in an address to the National Education Association's annual meeting, "has been the most pro-education administration in American history . . . eclipsing even Lyndon Johnson, whose record on education was superb."
During the Carter presidency, Mondale said, there has been a 60 percent increase in overall federal aid to education, a more than 50 percent increase in federal funds for students who live in poverty-stricken neighborhoods, and a more than 100 percent increase in funds for handicapped students.
This comes, he said, after eight years of Republican administrations under which education "was singled out above all other programs for an assault launched by the White House."
Mondale was cheered by more than 11,000 teachers when he reiterated administration support for a federal education department, which is also a major legislative goal of the NEA.
Mondale predicted "a very tight vote" when the education department bill comes before the House next week, and said he is "working almost full-time" trying to round up support for the measure.
He called on NEA members to contact their congressmen to press for creation of an education department. Such a department is needed, Mondale said, because no one now speaks on behalf of education at Cabinet-level meetings in the White House.
Carter and Mondale were endorsed by the NEA in 1976 -- the first time the organization had ever supported a presidential candidate -- and the vice president was warmly received here today.
Mondale also noted that the NEA and the administration are in agreement on every important aspect of education policy.
Nothing the vice president said, however, was as wildly cheered as his comments about teachers themselves.
Mondale said that he had discovered when serving as chairman of the Senate Equal Education Opportunity subcommittee that there is "no perfect model" for providing a good education for all children.
"The only thing that works for sure is to get the best teachers you can find," he said while NEA delegates cheered.
The audience jumped to its feet shouting and pounding on tables when Mondale added, "Get the best teachers you can find, give them good working conditions and then leave them alone to do their job," CAPTION: Picture, Mondale to NEA meeting in Detroit: This "has been the most pro-education administration in American history." UPI