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Federal File: A Prestigious Visitor; A Good Settlement; A Meritorious Idea

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The students of Congress Heights Elementary School in the District of Columbia last week enjoyed the first benefits of being "adopted" by the White House under President Reagan's new "Partnerships in Education" initiative: The President of Togo dropped by.

Gnassingbe Eyadema, in Washington during his first visit to the United States since assuming control of the small West African country during a military coup in 1963, told Congress Heights students (in French) of his country's commitment to education. He also offered the Togolese Embassy's staff members as tutors in African history, contemporary African politics, and French.

Representative Carl D. Perkins, Democrat of Kentucky and for 16 years chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, recently announced the creation of a $1-million private endowment to support his 81-year-old Appalachian alma mater, the Hindman Settlement School.

The school, one of a number established in rural Eastern Kentucky at the turn of the century by "secular missionaries" from prestigious Eastern colleges, provided the only formal education in mountainous Knott County until 1929, when a public-school system was established.

Today, the privately funded school supplements the work of the public schools through instruction in folk art, crafts, "mountain music," and creative writing. It also runs a Montessori program for preschoolers, conducts "community courses" on such subjects as child birthing, and doubles as a community center and county library.

President Reagan, who has been promoting merit pay for teachers as a partial solution to problems in the nation's schools, apparently thinks the notion will help solve some of the same problems in the federal civil service, at least when reductions-in-force are involved.

Last week, the Office of Personnel Management published new rif regulations that will give greater weight to an employee's job performance and less recognition to his or her seniority.

The new rules, which go into effect on Nov. 24, will affect most of the government's 2 million employees.

Under the plan, agencies facing rifs would rank employees according to "points" based on their length of service and last three performance ratings.

Employees would get one point for each year of service. But they would also receive 10 points for each "outstanding" job rating, seven points for each "exceeds fully successful" rating, and five points for each "fully sucessful" rating.

The plan will continue to give additional points to employees who have served in the armed forces, the personnel office said. The rules will not be applied retroactively to Education Department employees affected by a highly controversial rif earlier this year.--tt & tm

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