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School discipline, an on-again, off-again issue that is dear to the Administration, has begun to creep back into the bureaucratic machinery and could soon start making headlines, as it did briefly last year.

An interagency task force on the subject, chaired by Terry H. Eastland with representatives of the Education and Justice Departments, met for the first time last Tuesday at the Justice Department.

Mr. Eastland said that neither the panel's members nor its agenda has been set, but another Administration official, citing several factors, said the area may soon be a hotbed of activity.

One factor, he said, is that the new Attorney General, Edwin Meese 3rd, is reportedly very interested in the issue. Moreover, Mr. Meese, counselor to the President in Mr. Reagan's first term, now is a key figure in the White House domestic-policymaking apparatus.

Mr. Eastland, head of the school-discipline task force, is a friend and collaborator of Secretary of Education William J. Bennett. He served on Mr. Bennett's transition team and was to head his new office of educational philosophy and practice before Mr. Meese asked him to rejoin the Justice Department as the head of public affairs. Mr. Eastland, a former journalist, had been a speechwriter for former Attorney General William French Smith.

Given Mr. Meese's status in the Administration and Mr. Eastland's close working relationship with both the Attorney General and the Secretary of Education--not to mention President Reagan's interest in what he terms "good old-fashioned discipline"--it is only a matter of time, the Administration official suggested, before school discipline is back in the news.

A Fan Club

It is well known that Madeleine C. Will, the assistant secretary of education for special education and rehabilitative services, is highly regarded on Capitol Hill.

But it was not until a Senate hearing last week on her office's 1986 budget that the depth of that admiration in some quarters became known.

Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin, a liberal Democrat, upon discovering that she is the wife of self-proclaimed Tory George Will, the well-known columnist, said: "My estimation of George's judgment just went up 1,000 percent."

A Sure Bet

When the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recommended this month that federal civil-rights enforcement agencies and the Congress reject the use of comparable worth as a means to close the gap in wages between male and female workers, it did not come as much of a surprise.

In fact, the commission was so assured that the majority would vote to adopt the findings and recommendations in the draft report on comparable worth that members of the commission's staff began to pass out a news release to that effect before the vote was even taken. They quickly retrieved copies of the release from reporters covering the meeting this month after they realized their action had been slightly premature.

--jh & lo

Vol. 04, Issue 31

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