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Column One: Teachers

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Officials of the National Education Association are hoping that they see no more fire or rain inside the union's newly renovated Washington headquarters.

Twice since the staff moved back following a $65-million renovation, the building has been evacuated.

First, there was rain--at least figuratively--when a sprinkler system joint broke.

"People who saw it were amazed how much water came out of a sprinkler system pipe," Bill Martin, the director of communications, said. "It was not a trickle; it was a cascade."

The water ran onto most of the first floor, the atrium, the hallway, and the below-level auditorium.

Because the water had to be shut off, and there was no way to fight a potential fire, employees were sent home on that Thursday only to return on Monday to learn that an electrical fire had broken out in the computer room. That time, the building was evacuated for only about an hour.

The pipes have been tested and pronounced fit. Now, the only problem seems to be fire alarms that clang for no apparent reason.

Mr. Martin said it usually takes a while to work out the bugs in new or renovated buildings, especially the newer models with all their sensitive technology.

Damage estimates were not available.


The Holmes Group, a consortium of universities seeking to reform teacher education, was scheduled to meet this week at Sanibel Island, Fla., to launch its third major study.

In addition to its members, the group for the first time invited a host of child advocates to help them with the framework for tomorrow's Schools of Education."

The overriding question to be addressed is: What do professional educators need to have the opportunity to learn?

Two additional conferences will be held during the course of the 18-month project. A book and plans for implementation of forthcoming recommendations will follow.


The United Federation of Teachers, which has been working in New York City without a contract since the end of September, has taken a new tack to gain public support.

Last month it began airing radio spots in which teachers explain why they left or are considering leaving the New York City school system.

Among the topics addressed are large classes, noncompetitive salaries, and uncaring politicians.

"This is a relatively soft beginning," Neill Rosenreid, a U.F.T. spokesman, said. "If we have to do something that is tougher, we will."
--@.D.

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