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'Stamp' of Approval for Education?

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Public education is getting both official and "coincidental" recognition this year in the U.S. Postal Service's commemorative-stamp program.

Three postage stamps honoring famous educators have already been issued this year, and another will appear later this spring.

Meanwhile, a stamp formally commemorating the contributions of public education is scheduled for issue during the summer, Postal-Service officials say.

But while it comes at a time of intense national interest in the4subject of education, the profusion of commemorations is actually only a coincidence, postal officials admit. "It just so happened that many of the people who appear on the stamps this year have a connection to education," said Joseph P. Brochert, a senior stamp-program specialist with the postal service. "It's all just a coincidence."

Nonetheless, the timing seems admirable. The design for the 22-cent ''public education in America" stamp will be unveiled this week in conjunction with the 350th anniversary of the Boston Latin School, the oldest existing public school in the country. The school's major celebration takes place April 23.

In January, a 7-cent stamp honoring Abraham Baldwin, considered by many to be the founder of the American state-university system, was issued in Athens, Ga. In 1785, Mr. Baldwin wrote the charter for Franklin College, the oldest college at the University of Georgia.

An 11-cent stamp honoring Alden Partridge, a pioneer in promoting military education in civilian institutions and the founder of Norwich University in Vermont, was issued on Feb. 12, the 200th anniversary of his birth.

On March 5, a 22-cent commemorative stamp was issued honoring Mary Mcleod Bethune, one of the founders of the Bethune-Cookman College of Daytona Beach, Fla., and founder of the National Council of Negro Women.

This stamp is the latest in the Postal Service's "Black Heritage" series.

Later this spring, a fourth educator, Sylvanus Thayer, a pioneer in technological education and said to be the father of the modern U.S. Military Academy, will be honored with a 9-cent stamp.

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