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Franklin B. Walter, Ohio's state superintendent of public instruction, has been elected president-elect of the Council of Chief State School Officers. Mr. Walters, who has been Ohio's state chief since 1977, will become president of the council next year, succeeding the current president, Gordon M. Ambach, New York State's commissioner of education.

Margaret A. Smith, 43, is Gov. Richard Thornburgh's choice to head the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Ms. Smith, who is currently acting secretary of education for the state, has been a teacher, guidance counselor, superintendent, and, most recently, commissioner for basic education in Pennsylvania. She replaces Robert C. Wilburn, who is now president of the Carnegie Institute, in the $65,000-per-year post.

The Boston Latin School, which is celebrating its 350th anniversary this year, numbers among its alumni eight signers of the Declaration of Independence and, more recently, Leonard Bernstein. The former conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra returned to the school this month to receive the alum-ni's "Man of the Year" award for 1984.

Mr. Bernstein told students that the greatest benefit he had received from Boston Latin was the initiation into "learning how to learn, that was revealed to me by my bls masters as a matter of interdisciplinary cognition--that is, learning to know something by its relation to something else."

H. Ross Perot, the Texas millionaire who led the state's vocal and assertive school-reform commission, warned in Washington last month that states that develop a reform agenda without taking the needs of poor school districts into account "will fail." Equalization, Mr. Perot said, means redistributing reel5lsources so that every child can have ''a quality education."

Maria Gutierrez Spencer, the developer of an innovative bilingual-education program in Silver City, N.M., is among 14 women over 40 recently honored for their contributions to American life by the Wonder Woman Foundation of New York City. Among those honored at ceremonies last month were Marion Moses, medical director of the Farmworkers Health Group; Clara Hale, founder of a New York clinic to detoxify the infants of drug-addicted mothers; and Kathleen Barry, a scholar who studies the problems of sexual exploitation and missing children around the world.

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