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Former Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who left the bench to head the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, spent most of last Thursday with the panel's newly created education-support committee, discussing ways to involve the nation's schoolchildren in the bicentennial.

Mr. Burger noted that at least 30 television productions are planned to mark the event, one of which is an animated "Peanuts'' special on the Constitution, scheduled for the opening of school next September. Mr. Burger said he thinks the title is "It's Yours, Charlie Brown.'' Then he added after a pause: "I recently became acquainted with Charlie Brown through my grandchildren.''

The ex-Chief Justice's grandchildren also introduced him to "The Minipage,''--a syndicated feature that appears in weekend comic sections. Recognizing its potential for reaching younger children--one of the more challenging tasks facing the commission--Mr. Burger told his secretary "to get this fellow in here as soon as possible.'' Shortly afterward, the secretary came into his office "with that look that women sometimes get'' and told him that the fellow was a woman and she'd be happy to meet with Mr. Burger.

James Bencivenga plans to step down June 1 as director of information services for the Education Department's office of educational research and improvement. For two years, he has headed the Education Resources Information Centers.

Mr. Bencivenga will become education editor of The Christian Science Monitor, a newspaper for which he had worked previously as a writer. No replacement has been named.

Assistant Secretary Chester E. Finn Jr. has also named Bruno Manno, formerly O.E.R.I.'s director of planning, as his chief of staff. In an interview last week, Mr. Finn dismissed speculation that Mr. Manno's promotion represented a downgrading in authority of Ronald Preston, the office's second-ranking official.

"Utter rubbish,'' Mr. Finn said. "Ron is my deputy assistant secretary, adviser, and troubleshooter. But he'd be first to tell you that his talents don't include keeping track of 8,000 pieces of paper.''

Advocates of bilingual education won a victory last week when the General Accounting Office declined to make substantial changes in a report criticizing the Education Department's position on that issue, despite a vigorous rebuttal from Mr. Finn, who is assistant secretary for educational research and improvement.

The study was initiated last spring at the request of the House Education and Labor Committee, whose Democratic members were skeptical of the department's characterization of research on bilingual education. The G.A.O., a research arm of the Congress, asked a panel of experts to examine the department's claims. J.C. & R.W.

Vol. 06, Issue 25

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