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As the "secret" negotiations over the fiscal 1983 federal budget continued last week between Congressional leaders and officials of the Reagan Administration, reports that the negotiators have agreed to "freeze" spending for domestic programs at fiscal 1982 levels were circulating in Washington.

The reported agreement, which would hold spending for the Education Department at $13 billion, has aroused the ire of Democratic Representative Carl D. Perkins of Kentucky, the chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

Mr. Perkins, who claimed the spending freeze would last for three years, called the agreement "a step backward in our nation's commitment to education." He said the budget negotiators "are going way too far. I believe that people throughout the country who are concerned with [education] ought to know what is being agreed to in Washington."

Representative Perkins also said he has been told that the negotiators would reduce funds for child-nutrition programs by $1 billion next year. "Our people are far too humane to want to cut back on these programs when the needs are so great," he said.

The National Science Foundation's director, John B. Slaughter, last week announced the names of the members of the agency's recently created Commission on Precollege Education in Mathematics, Science, and Technology.

The commission, which will operate under the auspices of the National Science Board, the governing body of the foundation, was created in response to nsf officials' concern about the well-documented problems in precollege science and mathematics education.

The board members' names were announced only a few weeks after nsf officials "disestablished" the foundation's Science and Engineering Education Directorate, replacing it with the much smaller Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel and Education. The new office is responsible for providing the agency's "principal focal point" for all aspects of science and engineering personnel and education policy and management, according to a foundation spokesman.

Richard S. Nicholson will be executive director of the commission's staff. The 18 members of the commission are:

William T. Coleman Jr., co-chairman, senior partner, O'Melveny and Myers, Washington; Cecily C. Selby, co-chairman, chairman of the board of advisers, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics; Gen. Lew Allen Jr., chief of staff of the Air Force; Victoria Bergin, associate commissioner for general education, Texas Education Agency; George Burnet Jr., chairman of nuclear engineering, Iowa State University; William H. Cosby Jr., actor and entertainer; Daniel J. Evans, president, Evergreen State College; Donald S. Fredrickson, scholar-in-residence, National Academy of Sciences.

Also, Patricia A. Graham, dean-elect, Harvard University Graduate School of Education; Robert E. Larson, Systems Control Inc.; Gerald D. Laubach, president, Pfizer Inc.; Katharine P. Layton, mathematics teacher, Beverly Hills (Calif.) High School; Ruth B. Love, superintendent, Chicago public schools; Arturo Matrid, president, National Chicano Council on Higher Education; Frederick Mosteller, chairman of health policy and management, Harvard University School of Public Health; Robert W. Parry, president, American Chemical Society and professor of chemistry at the University of Utah; Benjamin F. Payton, president, Tuskegee Institute; Herbert A. Simon, professor of computer science and of psychology, Carnegie-Mellon University.

The U.S. Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments in a case that could more clearly define the status of private institutions that provide services under contract with public education agencies.

The case, Rendell-Baker v. Kohn, involves six former staff members at New Perspectives School in Brookline, Mass. The six--a counselor and five teachers--were fired in 1977 and 1978 for criticizing the school.

Because most of the school's students are referred and their tuition paid by public schools, New Perspectives is performing a "state function," and its faculty members are entitled to the same free-speech protections as public employees, the teachers' lawyer told the Justices.

Matthew Feinberg, the lawyer for the school, countered that New Perspectives is a private, autonomous school that makes its own decisions about personnel, admissions, and operations. The contracts with state and local public-education agencies, Mr. Feinberg said, give the public agencies no control over the school's operations.

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