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Daiwa Securities Company of Tokyo has given the Committee for Economic Development $1 million to establish an endowment for a permanent education-studies program.

Robert C. Holland, ced's president, said the grant marks the first time a Japanese firm "has targeted such a gift to improving U.S. elementary and secondary education."

Takuro Isoda, chairman of Daiwa Securities America, said the gesture recognizes c.e.d.'s role as "a national leader in developing sound policies for improving public education in the United States."

The nonprofit organization, whose board of directors includes university presidents and the leaders of major corporations, has been active in promoting business involvement in education. Its 1987 report, "Children in Need: Investment Strategies for the Educationally Disadvantaged," has been influential in promoting early educational intervention for disadvantaged students.

The gift will establish the Owen B. Butler Program in Education Studies, named for ced'schairman, who has led the group's education activities for the past seven years. Mr. Butler is the retired chairman of the board of the Procter & Gamble Company, where he now serves as a consultant.

The National Center on Education and the Economy has formed a commission to examine why the United States is losing its economic edge and to recommend strategies to improve workers' skills.

The Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce plans to spend seven months interviewing policymakers, employers, educators, and employees in the United States and six other nations--Sweden, Japan, Singapore, Ireland, West Germany, and South Korea. The group hopes to compile "the largest database of its kind" comparing skill-development policies in the seven countries, a spokesman for the project said.

The panel, to be headed by Ira C. Magaziner, an international business strategist, will include business and labor leaders, educators, and government officials.

The project is being paid for by a $250,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York with additional support from businesses, unions, and universities.

The commission will examine the role of government policies, education, and training in boosting workers' skills. It will meet for the first time next month.

A coalition of educators and housing advocates has released a model curriculum for schools to teach children about the homeless.

At a Washington press conference, the National Education Association declaredlast week "National Housing Education Week," and issued copies of the curriculum guide to its more than 6,000 affiliates.

In addition, District of Columbia school officials agreed to use the curriculum in schools throughout the district in October.

The guide, developed by an organization called Housing Now, includes materials for grades 4 through 12.

Its goal is to "dispel the myths about the homeless," and to help students overcome prejudices against homeless children in their schools and adults they may meet.

The curriculum also encourages children to write the Congress to urge it to find a solution to homelessness and to increase affordable housing.

Housing Now has invited students across the country to bring their letters to Washington as part of a march planned for Oct. 7.

Sixty percent of Americans rate public schools as "only fair" or "poor," according to a poll by Louis Harris & Associates released last week.

In 1986, a similar Harris poll reported that 54 percent of those surveyed thought public education in the United States was "pretty good" or "excellent." Both polls asked respondents to rate public education according to one of those four categories.

The telephone poll, which was conducted last month, surveyed 1,250 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Sixty percent of Americans rate public schools as "only fair" or "poor," according to a poll by Louis Harris & Associates released last week.

In 1986, a similar Harris poll reported that 54 percent of those surveyed thought public education in the United States was "pretty good" or "excellent." Both polls asked respondents to rate public education according to one of those four categories.

The telephone poll, which was conducted last month, surveyed 1,250 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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