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W. Edwards Deming, the quality-control theorist whose philosophy of Total Quality Management has found a following among educators, died last month at age 93.

Mr. Deming was a major figure in Japan, where his work was widely credited with guiding that nation's economic rebirth after World War II. But his ideas received little attention in the United States until the early 1980's, when several companies adopted his approach in response to foreign competition.

Although Mr. Deming's ideas initially were geared toward improving productivity and quality in industry, backers say they can also produce positive results in schools. The key tenets of his ideas emphasize customer satisfaction, doing tasks correctly the first time, employee education and training, and empowering workers to make decisions based on experience. (See Education Week, March 11, 1992.)

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