State Journal: A larger sphere of influence; Toughest of the tough; The power of positive students

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Betty Castor, who wields a considerable amount of clout in Florida as the state's chief school officer, hopes to expand her sphere of influence even further by landing a spot on the national Democratic Party's platform committee.

David Voss, a spokesman for the state school superintendent, said Ms. Castor met with Paul Kirk, the party's national chairman, this month to express her desire to win a seat on the panel that will set the Democrats' positions for the 1988 Presidential race. Ms. Castor was nominated for the job by the state's Democratic Party chairman.

Mr. Kirk is expected to name the platform panel's chairman next month and the remainder of its members by the end of this year.

A resounding majority of the New Jersey legislature's members say the state's National Education Association affiliate is the most powerful lobby in the Capitol.

Asked by the Associated Press to list the three most influential interest groups in the state, 84 percent of the lawmakers who responded to the recent telephone survey ranked the New Jersey Education Association at the top of their list.

"Nobody even sits in the same ballpark with them," said Senator Frank X. Graves.

"They have a number of hammers," added Senator Gerald Cardinale. "They have a large, greatly dispersed membership. I think a lot of the legislators are afraid of them."

The union gave a demonstration of its political power in September, when it won a showdown with Gov. Thomas H. Kean over his plan to give the state authority to declare substandard districts "academically bankrupt."

Norman Vincent Peale, the clergyman who made "positive thinking" a part of the American vernacular, recently joined with Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr. of West Virginia to announce a new statewide program designed to help schoolchildren feel better about themselves.

The program, called the Power of Positive Students, is aimed at children in kindergarten through 4th grade and will be implemented on a voluntary basis beginning in January, Governor Moore said at an Oct. 5 news conference in Charleston.

The program was developed by a Maryland educator who was influenced by Mr. Peale's 1952 book, The Power of Positive Thinking.--tm

Vol. 07, Issue 08

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