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Column One: Curriculum

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National experts discuss alternatives to the use of petroleum and the importance of the commodity in the Persian Gulf war in a recent Public Broadcasting Service teleconference now available on videotape.

During the program, seven experts in the fields of military affairs, geology, conservation, and politics took turns answering the question: "What are the realistic options for reducing our nation's dependence on imported oil?"

The panel, moderated by Hodding Carter 3rd, a former State Department spokesman, included James Akins, the former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Charles Ebinger, a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Brooks Yeager, the National Audubon Society's vice president for government affairs.

The two-hour program, called "The Future of Oil: Recurring Crises or New Potential?" aired Jan. 23.

Copies of the tape--which is available only in the VHS format--may be obtained by calling Annette Hinkley at (202) 857-4781. The tapes cost $29.95 each.

Less than one cent of every $1 spent last year to educate students in grades K-12 was used to buy textbooks, according to a recent study by the Association of American Publishers.

The statistics, gathered by the group's school division, show that, of the average $4,800 spent on each pupil during the 1989-90 school year, $41 went for textbooks. The total amount spent on texts--about $1.9 billion--was less than Americans spend annually on alcohol, tobacco, pet food, or television video games, according to the report.

Donald A. Eklund, the division's senior vice president, said that sum is far from adequate.

"In many schools," he said, "students are not able to take books home to study because there aren't enough copies to go around."

A newsletter for educators seeking new ways to teach spelling has made its debut.

Rather than focus on teaching letters and their corresponding sounds, The Spelling Newsletter offers a hierarchy of systems for understanding spelling, says its author, Raymond E. Laurita.

At the heart of his method, Mr. Laurita says, is an emphasis on the roots, prefixes, and suffixes of words. He points out, for example, that the Greek word "chrone" is the core root of such modern, hard-to-spell words as chronic, chronicle, synchronize, and anachronism.

The newsletter is available for $15 a year by writing: The Spelling Newsletter, Department N, P.O. Box 1326, Camden, Me. 04843.

--d.v. & p.w

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