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She corresponded with the late Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, appeared on national television, interviewed Presidential candidates, and wrote a book about her 1983 trip to Russia--all before she finished 7th grade. And this summer, 12-year-old Samantha Smith will be heading to Hollywood to star with Robert Wagner in a new abc television series scheduled to air this fall.

Samantha, whose family is moving from Maine to California to be with her, first made headlines two years ago when she received a three-page letter from Mr. Andropov in reply to one she had written him about the dangers of nuclear war.

Samantha's appearances on television talk shows and as an interviewer of Presidential hopefuls on the Disney channel last summer caught the eye of the new series' producers, who were looking for "not a trained show-business child, but someone who has a natural delivery," according to her father, Arthur Smith.

In the forthcoming television series "J.G. Culver," Samantha will play the elder daughter of a widowed insurance investigator, played by Mr. Wagner.

Her book about her trip to Russia, Journey to the Soviet Union, was published by Little, Brown in January.

The day after Utah's superintendent of public instruction, Leland Burningham, announced his intention to retire, an independent fact-finding panel named by the state board and the superintendent to investigate his job performance announced it had uncovered seven instances of impropriety.

In its report, the three-member panel said Mr. Burningham mishandled state travel money, benefited financially from annual-leave and sick-leave policies he had approved, improperly kept speaking3fees he received while working for the state, and gave himself a $2,100 bonus, according to Fran Peek, a spokesman for the department of education.

Mr. Burningham, who had served as state superintendent since July 1982, acknowledged that he may not have been thorough in his bookkeeping but denied any criminal wrongdoing, Mr. Peek said. Under the state's early-retirement plan, which Mr. Burningham helped draft, he will receive about $24,000 in retirement benefits.

Because he chose retirement, Mr. Burningham will not be prosecuted for alleged improprieties as state superintendent, Mr. Peek said. But Weber County officials are currently investigating allegations of similar improprieties while Mr. Burningham worked as superintendent of the Weber County public schools from 1973 to 1982, Mr. Peek said.

Meanwhile, the state board has selected as his replacement Bernarr S. Furse, an administrative assistant to the state chief who has served as acting superintendent since he was put on administrative leave six weeks ago, Mr. Peek said.

Gene Bedley, principal for 10 years of the El Camino Real Elementary School in Irvine, Calif., has been named 1985 National pta Phoebe Aperson Hearst Outstanding Educator of the Year.

Mr. Bedley says he uses incentives to influence his 700 students in a positive way. For example, some 35 to 50 students visit his office daily to hug a stuffed animal named "Huggy Bear" and receive a card that says "Huggy Bear is so proud of you for being thoughtful, courteous, helpful, or kind."

Mr. Bedley rewards students who have completed their schoolwork by driving them around the campus in his Model A pickup truck, dubbed the ''Good Workers Express."

And the principal sends out more than 200 notes and special letters to his students weekly to let them know, he says, that he is "behind them 100 percent."

Mr. Bedley will receive a $2,500 prize at the association's national convention. Another $2,500 will be given to his school.

The award, which is funded by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, is named for Phoebe Aperson Hearst, who was a co-founder of the 5.6-million-member pta.

Fred Rogers, creator of the children's television show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," has been selected to receive the 1985 Lamplighter Award, given each year by the Educational Press Association of America.

Mr. Rogers is being honored for his "significant contribution to education" over the last 30 years, including his television show and his books for children and parents. The award was presented at edpress's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., last week. The association this year is celebrating its 90th anniversary.

The Associated Press has taken David Owen, a freelance writer, to task, challenging some of the conclusions in his recent book, None of the Above: The Myth of Scholastic Aptitude.

In the book, published in May by the Houghton Mifflin Company, Mr. Owen harshly criticizes the Educational Testing Service, the New Jersey-based company that administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test, for overlooking cheating by students and lax security at its more than 4,000 testing centers across the country. In the book, he claims that security is lax in testing centers in schools serving disadvantaged students but not so when the test is administered in schools in affluent areas.

The ap recently sent reporters to take the sat at 11 testing centers across the country selected for their geographic and demographic balance. The reporters found that security at each of the centers was tight and cheating virtually impossible. In some instances, the reporters found that the security precautions exceeded those required by the ets They found that security was just as tight in schools serving poor students as in others.

Vol. 04, Issue 38

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