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The University of Pennsylvania has named Marvin Lazerson, currently a visiting professor of education at Harvard University, as dean of its graduate school of education.

A historian by training, Mr. Lazerson has published five books, including An Education of Value, which he co-authored with the late Harvard professor Stephen K. Bailey and others, and American Education in the Twentieth Century.

In addition to his post at Harvard, Mr. Lazerson has taught at the University of British Columbia, the University of Washington, and Stanford University.

He will succeed Dale H. Hymes, professor of education, sociology, anthropology, and linguistics at Penn, and dean of the school since 1975.

Jerry Martin, a former legislative assistant to U.S. Representative Hank Brown of Colorado, has been appointed director of the division of education programs of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

From 1967 to 1982, Mr. Martin taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was named chairman of the philosophy department in 1979. He was the founding director of the university's center for the study of values and social policy.

Mr. Martin succeeds Pamela Menke, who has taken a position at Lesley College in Cambridge, Mass.

Steven McAuliffe, husband of the late teacher-astronaut Sharon Christa McAuliffe, has joined the as-yet-unofficial Presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Democrat of Delaware.

A spokesman for Mr. Biden, who has not declared his candidacy, said that Mr. McAuliffe volunteered to organize a speech for the Senator at the St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H., late last month, and that he is expected to become more active in the campaign. She said that the New Hampshire lawyer especially "respected and appreciated'' Mr. Biden's stance on educational issues.

"If you think happiness can be found chasing money, this country hasn't the capacity to survive,'' former U.S. Senator Paul Tsongas told 550 students at the Williston Northhampton School in Easthampton, Mass., in a rare public appearance last month.

Mr. Tsongas, who retired from the Senate in 1984 because he had cancer and wanted to spend more time in Massachusetts with his family, continued: "A banker, lawyer, whatever, doesn't contribute anything of value simply shifting papers. No one at 14 years of age should want to be a stockbroker. Whatever happened to idealism, to a career in public service?'' he asked the students at the independent, college-preparatory school.

In response to a question from a 17-year-old student who had shown him a Playboy centerfold, U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese 3rd told a high-school audience last week that he did not think the magazine violated obscenity laws.

"In my opinion, there has not been any court that has held Playboy or Penthouse to be within the Supreme Court definition of obscenity,'' Mr. Meese replied after Jared Scogna of Falls Church, Va., displayed the nude photograph from the March issue of Playboy and asked the Attorney General to explain the link between pornography and violent crime.

Last year, the Attorney General's commission on pornography suggested such a link. The panel also wrote a letter to the Southland Corporation soliciting a response to charges that the firm's 7-Eleven stores sold pornography. Southland stopped sales of Playboy and Penthouse at the stores shortly afterward.

Mr. Meese's comments came during a question-and-answer period in a session on constitutional topics at a convention of the Junior Statesmen of America in Philadelphia.

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