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Stephen S. Kaagan, Vermont's outgoing commissioner of education, has accepted an academic post at Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics.

He will also direct three study projects in education over the next two years.

Mr. Kaagan announced in October that he would resign as commissioner effective Feb. 26, 1988.

One of his forthcoming projects, to be sponsored jointly by the Institute's Education Policy Research Center and the Educational Testing Service, will examine the status of educational indicators in the states. Another, sponsored by the Agency for Instructional Technology, will explore the Indiana-based agency's role in fostering the use of technology in schools.

A third project, sponsored by the Getty Foundation, will focus on arts education.

Barbara Blackwell, principal of the Cora Kelly Magnet School in Alexandria, Va., believes she can boost the performance of her students through the power of positive thinking--instilled by recordings of uplifting "subliminal" messages.

Ms. Blackwell recently proposed that the public-address system in her elementary school begin playing soft-spoken messages of encouragement, such as "I like school" and "I enjoy tests and do well on them," against a background of natural, soothing sounds.

But a number of parents have expressed opposition to the tapes, and school-district officials have told Ms. Blackwell to put the proposal on hold.

Paul Masem, Alexandria's superintendent of schools, said last week that the idea would not be implemented until a committee has studied the issue. "There is a question of whether we should expose children to unheard messages," he said.

Sixteen teachers and staff members at a Lemoyne, Pa., elementary school can thank the school custodian for an annual salary supplement they will be receiving for the next 26 years.

Frank Diehl, the custodian, has been buying the group lottery tickets each week for about a year. And this fall it paid off.

Seventeen lottery players from the Herman Avenue Elementary School--including, in addition to Mr. Diehl, the principal, a retired custodian, 11 teachers, and three teachers' aides--have won a $1.5-million jackpot and will split the proceeds.

Last month, they received their firstcheck from the winning ticket they held in the state lottery's Oct. 21 "Super 7" drawing. In total, the group will receive about $1.23 million--the net after federal taxes are withheld--in 26 equal payments of $47,320.78.

Each person will receive about $2,800 a year for 26 years. The group had previously won six smaller prizes, according to Mr. Diehl.

Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence, the best-selling book on business management, is donating a portion of the royalties from his latest book to a literacy-training group based in Washington.

Mr. Peters will channel profits from Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution, to plan, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides adult-literacy training in the capital area and also serves as an advocacy group for national literacy programs. The organization received its first check--for $14,000--late last month.

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