Column One: Teachers

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Members of the National Education Association used to joke that the union's Washington, D.C., headquarters looked like a school, with its tiled walls and institutional paint job. Now, after a $65-million renovation, some are calling the building a Hyatt Hotel clone.

Last month, at a dedication ceremony attended by union officers from around the country, the N.E.A. proudly unveiled the results of three years of construction.

Guests gathered in an 86-foot-high atrium, reminiscent of a fancy downtown hotel, to begin their tours. They learned that the building has 21 meeting rooms, a specially lighted press-conference area, a state-of-the-art television production center, an exhibit hall full of union memorabilia, a 500-seat auditorium, and a computer-training center for union employees.

The building even has its own cable-television channel, which will allow staffers to tune in to meetings without attending them in person. And it will also have a gymnasium in the basement.

The N.E.A. has occupied the site at 1201 16th St., N.W., just up the street from the White House, since 1930. More than 300 employees work there.

The new facilities will get plenty of use, union officials report. Since the building opened this fall, more than 200 meetings have been scheduled for the conference rooms.

Despite being locked in tease negotiations over teachers' raises. the Chicago Teachers Union and the board of education plan to work together to recruit mid-career teachers to work in the city's schools.

The "Teachers for Chicago" program, which will begin in June, was developed with the Chicago Area Deans of Education and the Golden Apple Foundation, which will administer the $462,000 donated by the Chicago Community Trust to support the effort.

The program will target people with bachelor's degrees who want to teach and assist them in meeting certification requirements while they work in urban classrooms with mentor teachers.

The Baltimore Teachers Union has canceled its annual professional-issues conference, scheduled for this month, and will donate the $10,000 earmarked for the event to the city's breakfast program for needy children.

Union leaders decided to scrap their meeting after Gov. William Donald Schaefer announced the meal program would be reduced because of the state's budget problems.

Irene B. Dandridge, president of the B.T.U., said members could not spend the money in "good conscience" when children were coming to school hungry. --A.B.

Vol. 11, Issue 10, Page 6

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