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The New York State Board of Regents will remove a passage that was denounced as racist from its dropout-prevention manual, Commissioner of Education Thomas Sobol has said.

The manual, which was distributed in 1987 to some 15,000 educators, stated that certain groups of students at risk of dropping out of school--particularly blacks and those having handicaps or limited English proficiency--have "learning styles" that are different from those of other students. (See Education Week, Oct. 14, 1987.)

In response to widespread criticism of the passage, the education department appointed a task force on the issue. Associating specific learning styles with groups of students could lead to stereotyping, the panel found, urging the board not to encourage the practice.

The new edition of the manual, scheduled to appear next summer, will point out that different students learn in different ways, according to Christopher Carpenter, a spokesman for Mr. Sobol. But it will not refer to blacks or other groups as having particular learning styles, he said.

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