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The National Business Consortium for the Gifted and Talented, a nonprofit group sponsored by 67 major corporations, has enlisted the persuasive talents of Melvin Belli Sr., the noted trial lawyer, to head a national campaign to raise $1.5 million to support programs for gifted children.

Noting that such children face "real problems" in developing their abilities, the organization quotes Mr. Belli as saying that "the loss to the nation is enormous and the economic impact is stifling."

"Of the estimated 2.5 million gifted children in the United States,'' according to the group's lawyer, "more than one-half are never identified and only 1 in 20 ever fulfills their true potential."

A spokesman for the consortium, established in 1980 to promote business involvement in programs for talented students in school systems nationwide, said the funds raised through the effort would be used to expand the group's state and local network of business people actively involved in developing programs for the gifted in local schools.

The national Girl Scouts organization has lowered its membership age to 5 and has added a new category of membership, in part to respond to changes in children's development and in family structure, officials say.

The Girl Scouts, which were founded in 1912 by Julia Gordon Lowe, have in the last 10 years tested programs for preschool girls, according to a spokesman for the organization. Until now, the youngest scouts have been Brownies, who can join at age 6.

The new category--which is called Daisy Girl Scouts, after Ms. Lowe's nickname, Daisy, and which gears programs to 5-year-olds--was piloted in 70 local councils and found to be successful, the spokesman said.

"Children mature faster than before," she said. "There is greater need for social and group activities that aren't found at school and at home." In addition, she said, the Daisy Girl Scout program will help latchkey children and single-parent families, both of which are on the rise.

The scouting group has begun conducting training programs for local members to become Daisy troop leaders and expects to have most of the volunteers trained soon for the new age level, the spokesman said.

The National Congress of Parents and Teachers (pta) has asked record companies to voluntarily establish a rating system that would let buyers know when records, tapes, and cassettes have lyrics that could be considered sexually explicit, violent, or vulgar.

At its annual meeting earlier this year, the pta passed a resolution to send letters to record companies asking for the special labeling. ''An unsuspecting public may purchase records, tapes, and cassettes that contain explicit language, sexual references, and inferences to situations not commonly recommended for all age groups," according to the resolution. pta officials began to mail letters last month.

Elaine Stienkemeyer, national president of the pta, said the 5.4-million member organization is not trying to censor the music. "It was the feeling of the delegates that the music be labeled for no other purpose but consumer protection," she said. "Parents felt they should know that those kinds of words are on rec-ords or tapes." The idea for the rating system came from an Ohio pta member who objected to a record album by the singer Prince.

"My wife had bought Prince's '1999' album because she liked two of the songs she had heard on 'Top 40' radio stations," said Rick Alley, a Cincinnati member.

"We were listening to the album together when a song called, 'Let's Pretend We're Married,' came on and we realized it has some pretty descriptive lyrics. We both ran for the volume knob on the stereo because our kids were in the next room," Mr. Alley said. He and his wife have a 12-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. "We thought there should be warnings to let people know when sensitive language is being used."

Robert Marlis, vice president and director of publicity for Warner Brothers, reacted to the pta's proposal by noting that his company does not want to begin prejudging records, "nor do we want others to judge our records."

"The analogy between film ratings and record ratings is a false analogy," Mr. Marlis said. "Records are brought into the home, and therefore it is the responsibility of parents to regulate the cultural intake of their children. It's in the home and therefore beyond our jurisdiction and a little beyond the pta's jurisdiction."

Vol. 04, Issue 10

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