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New Center Will Concentrate On Issues of Early Childhood

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An independent nonprofit research organization has been established in New York City to draw attention to the importance of the early grades in child development and educational practice.

According to its executive director, Allan Shedlin Jr., the Elementary School Center will explore "the major questions of practice in elementary-school work." The center was founded by the Elementary School Study Group, an organization of administrators, teachers, teacher educators, pediatricians, psychologists, and social workers.

"After the family, the elementary school is the most important institution in a child's life," Mr. Shedlin said in a prepared statement. "What is learned in elementary school provides the foundation for all future learning. Yet in terms of attention and status, elementary schools and educators occupy the lowest rung of the educational ladder."

This fall's opening of the center, which has been in the planning stages for two years, coincided with Secretary of Education William J. Bennett's announcement that he was forming a 21-member panel to assess the current state of primary education. Mr. Shedlin is a member of the panel.

Key Role

The Elementary School Center will conduct research on such issues as how to accommodate increases in the elementary-school population as the number of elementary-school teachers decreases. It will also look at ways to make educators and the public more aware of the key role elementary schools play in children's lives and in society.

The center will sponsor meetings to gather opinion from professionals from many fields important in the early school years, Mr. Shedlin said.

Its first conference, "Schools for Children: Multiple Perspectives on Serving the Needs of the Elementary-School Child in the 1980's," will take place on Jan. 24.

Membership in the center is open to educators, medical professionals, parents, government officials, and others interested in elementary schools. Charter membership dues for individuals and institutions are $125 per year. Members receive a newsletter, conference papers, access to the resource center, and advance notice and reduced registration fees for the annual conference.

For more information, write Mr. Shedlin at the Elementary School Center, 2 East 103rd St., New York, N.Y. 10029, or call (212) 289-5929.--ab

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