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The U.S. Defense Department enjoyed a banner recruiting year last year, the Pentagon says.

For the first time, more than 90 percent of the new recruits in the four branches of the armed services--the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines--are high-school graduates, said Lawrence J. Korb, assistant secretary of defense for manpower, reserve affairs, and logistics, who is in charge of personnel.

According to a Pentagon spokesman, the number of recruits fell from 330,000 in fiscal 1983 to 328,500 last year because enough servicemen re-enlisted.

In fiscal 1984, 93 percent of the recruits were high-school graduates, compared with 68 percent in fiscal 1980, the Defense Department said. Mr. Korb attributed the increase in better-educated recruits and a high re-enlistment rate to the fact that "people are treated well [in the armed services], they have better3equipment and training, and they have more prestige as the society appreciates what they are doing."

Mr. Korb also asserted that economic conditions do not have a great impact on recruiting; observers have claimed that during a recession, more people enlist.

He also reported that the number of young men and women who signed up on a deferred basis last year fell by 8,000, from 131,300. But he noted that this delayed-entry pool was up from 64,000 in 1980.

The Project on Equal Education Rights of the now Legal Defense and Education Fund has launched a national network to bring together the expertise of parents, educators, policymakers, and equity advocates across the country.

The "National Affiliate Network," as the project is called, is an attempt by the 10-year-old peer to unite local citizen action, research, and information on current news developments in educational equity.

"This is a particularly critical6year for those of us concerned about educational equity," writes Leslie R. Wolfe, director of peer, in a letter inviting individuals and organizations to join the new network. "As education-reform proposals sweep through state legislatures, concern for equity is being overlooked or, worse yet, blamed for the apparent decline in the quality of education during the past 20 years."

"We also know that our efforts to empower women must be doubled and tripled, to counteract recent efforts to turn back the clock to the days before Title IX ensured our equal rights in education," Ms. Wolfe writes.

The network, which costs from $10 to $50 per year to join, will publish a monthly newsletter, news bulletins on federal education events, and policy papers analyzing the impact of federal and state policies on women, according to promotional literature.

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