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Federal File: Making the connection; Harassment count

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Making the Connection

Starting next month, millions of students and teachers will be able to tune in to the Department of Education's monthly satellite town meetings on the Channel One network.

The controversial television network provides schools with free telecommunications equipment in exchange for a commitment to broadcast 10 minutes of news and two minutes of advertising each day.

The town meetings are to be shown on the Classroom Channel, which offers additional, commercial-free educational programming to the 12,000 secondary school subscribers to Channel One.

The meetings, which are hosted by Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and Deputy Secretary Madeleine M. Kunin, feature educators and other experts discussing topics ranging from education technology to early-childhood development.

Under an agreement announced last month, the Classroom Channel will air the taped meetings on the third Thursday of each month, two days after they are broadcast live by satellite and shown on cable-television channels.

Harassment Count

A federal study has found that 42 percent of female employees and 19 percent of male employees at the Department of Education reported "experiencing sexual harassment" in 1994.

The percentage of male employees at the agency reporting such harassment edged up by 1 percentage point since 1987, when the last such survey was conducted, while the percentage of women employees reporting harassment stayed the same.

The data are contained in "Sexual Harassment in the Federal Workplace: Trends, Progress, Continuing Challenges," a report released this fall by the Merit Systems Protection Board, an independent federal entity that monitors government employment practices.

Governmentwide, 44 percent of women workers and 19 percent of males reported experiencing harassment last year.

Sexual harassment is defined in the report as uninvited actions by co-workers, ranging from letters and telephone calls to pressure for dates or sexual favors.

Education Department officials said that since the 1987 survey, 700 managers and supervisors received mandatory sexual harassment prevention training, and that the program was open to other employees on a voluntary basis. Of the department's 5,100 employees, 61 percent are women.

--Mark Pitsch

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