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A group of education leaders has organized a national policy board on educational administration to improve professional preparation programs and strengthen certification standards for superintendents, principals, and other school leaders.

The Danforth Foundation, a St. Louis-based philanthropy dedicated to educational improvement, has agreed to provide $179,000 over the next three years to establish the board, and the University of Virginia has agreed to staff and house the project.

Creation of such a board was a key recommendation of "Leaders for America's Schools," the report released last March by the National Commission on Excellence in Educational Administration, a panel established by the University Council for Educational Administration.

As envisioned by the commission, the board would monitor the implementation of the report's recommendations, encourage the development of high-quality preparation programs, conduct periodic reviews of those programs, and produce "white papers" on critical policy issues.

In addition, the commission recommended that the proposed board create a national certification agency for educational administration, similar in purpose to the national board for teaching established last spring by the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy.

Scott Thomson, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, has agreed to serve as chairman of the board, which will hold its first official meeting in January.

"Our long-range plan," Mr. Thomson said last week, "is to enlarge the size of the board to include other players with a stake in improving school administration."

Charter members also include Gordon Cawelti of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Patrick Forsyth of the University Council for Educational Administration, David Imig of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Richard Miller of the American Association of School Administrators, Samuel Sava of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and Thomas Shannon of the National School Boards Association.

A group of former asbestos manufacturers has filed suit in federal court to prevent new comprehensive asbestos regulations from going into effect. The suit by the Safe Buildings Alliance asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington to rule on whether the Environmental Protection Agency should review the asbestos regulations it released last month.

The regulations require all public and private schools to inspect for the cancer-causing substance by next October, to remove or contain crumbling forms of the material, and to monitor all forms of asbestos when it is found.

The suit alleges that the regulations are inadequate because they do not establish a level at which asbestos exposure poses a risk to human health. John Welch, the group's president, said such standards would help schools determine when asbestos removal is necessary.

He said his group is concerned that unnecessary removal projects could lead to greater human exposure to asbestos--and future suits against the manufacturers.

The National School Boards Association has distributed a 26-page position paper to all Presidential candidates that officials of the group call a first step in the organization's plans to play a "substantial leadership role" in framing the 1988 campaign's debate on education issues.

"Education: The Key to the National Interest" urges the next President to "articulate and personally advocate a plan of action that brings the three levels of government squarely behind the education of the nation's youth." It suggests that he or she choose as Secretary of Education "an advocate for public education" who is well versed in the operation of public schools and has the respect of policymakers in the field.

Included in the document's long list of recommendations is a call for a major new investment by the federal government in education--"at least triple current levels."

Jonathan T. Howe, president of the nsba, said in releasing the statement this month that the school-boards group would petition to present testimony before both the Democratic and Republican National Platform Committees and would lobby to have its concerns included in official policy documents.

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