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Anthony J. Alvarado, the former New York City schools chancellor, has decided not to accept a post as special assistant to Albert Shanker, president of the 610,000-member American Federation of Teachers.

The union last month announced that Mr. Alvarado would assume the position, but strong opposition from the aft's influential New York local forced him to reconsider.

Mr. Alvarado had resigned the New York schools position in May 1984 after less than a year on the job amid allegations that he was involved in illegal and unethical financial transactions.

He is expected to remain at the Consortium for Worker Literacy, a union-supported program to support adult literacy in New York.

J. Anthony Lukas has won the American Book Award in the nonfiction category for his book about the Boston school-busing crisis, Com-4mon Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families. Mr. Lukas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter formerly with The New York Times, received the $10,000 award last month.

His book examines the desegregation of Boston's public schools by detailing the experiences of three families: the McGoffs, who are an Irish-American blue-collar family; the Twymons, a black family from Roxbury; and the Divers, idealistic, upper-middle-class whites who moved from a comfortable suburb to the South End. The accounts are interspersed with biographies of five public figures who played key roles in the crisis.

Jay Robinson, superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., school district, has advised members of the North Carolina School Boards Association to develop legally sound district policies on religious activities and sex education that can withstand criticism by Christian fundamentalists.

Mr. Robinson, speaking at the association's annual meeting last8month, warned that some preachers are using their television ministries to conduct "vicious attacks on the public schools." District officials, he said, should base policies on the legal grounds established by the courts concerning religion in the schools, and they should be prepared to stand behind them.

He noted that he and a principal in his district have both been receiving "hate mail" from fundamentalists since last spring, when the principal attempted to bar to two teachers from reading the Bible to students and counseling them in Christianity.

Antoinette Cataldi Sessa, a retired junior-high-school guidance counselor in Washington, D.C., is angry about her school district's mandatory-retirement rule and has found at least one supporter in city hall.

Last June, the 70-year-old counselor was forced to leave her job at Jefferson Junior High School because of the board of education's retirement rule. When the board subsequently refused her request to revise the rule, Ms. Sessa mainel10ltained a one-woman picket line outside its offices for five days.

The tactic caught the attention of David Clarke, the city council chairman, who agreed to introduce a bill addressing the issue.

Mr. Clarke's bill would make a simple majority of board members--rather than a two-thirds vote--sufficient to waive retirement, but would set criteria for the board to consider, including length of service and performance evaluations.

But even if the bill passes, Ms. Sessa said, she would not consider returning to her old post because of her treatment during the dispute. She is keeping busy, though, helping educators in other jurisdictions fight similar rules.

In her inaugural address as the first woman president of Boston's Lesley College, a longtime teacher-training institution, Margaret A. McKenna emphasized the role of higher education in alleviating the growingshortage of elementary- and secondary-school teachers. "By 1990, we will need two times as many [new] elementary teachers as computer programmers," she said.

Ms. McKenna, a civil-rights lawyer, is a former vice president of Radcliffe College and was deputy undersecretary of education in the Carter Administration.

Commissioner of Education Gerald N. Tirozzi of Connecticut has been touring his state's elementary and secondary schools to promote education as a career, but he's found it a hard sell.

At the Eastford Elementary School, not a single 8th grader expressed an interest in teaching. When Mr. Tirozzi asked why, a student summed up the class's feelings in one word: "Pay."

Mr. Tirozzi responded by noting that a proposal before the legislature would raise minimum salaries for teachers to $19,300. By the time the 8th graders make their career choices, teaching will be "a true profession," he predicted.

Mr. Tirozzi also noted that Connecticut provides up to $20,000 in grants to students in teachers' colleges who graduate in the top quarter of their high-school classes and teach in the state for five years.

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