Education Secretary William J. Bennett -- who rarely campaigns for candidates seeking an office less prestigious than the U.S. Senate -- is off to New Jersey today to make a campaign appearance in behalf of a lone state assemblyman.

Why? The New Jersey affiliate of the National Education Association, Bennett's recent nemesis, voted not to endorse Republican Frank Gargiulo, who represents predominantly Democratic Hudson County.

Help for Gargiulo, a prime sponsor of a bill to allow state takeover of academically deficient school districts, is also coming from Gov. Thomas H. Kean (R), a Bennett favorite. Armenian Memories. . .

President Reagan met yesterday with Vasken I, supreme patriarch of the Armenian Church, who called the visit "a historic event . . . and opportunity to express my gratitude to the United States" for the religious, cultural and economic opportunities it has offered Armenians.

Reagan, in a response that Vasken called "very warm," reflected on the contributions made in many fields by Americans of Armenian heritage.

Vasken said he indirectly raised the question of the massacre of Armenians in 1915-23 under the Ottoman Empire in what is now Turkey, saying that many Armenian Americans are the children and grandchildren of victims of this genocide. Reagan did not respond directly to this comment, which is politically sensitive to Turkey as well as to the Armenian community.

In an interview, Vasken expressed "his personal view" that a summit would be held between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. But he said this question did not arise at their meeting.Credentials From Iraq . . .

Iraq's new ambassador, Abdul-Amir Anbari, has presented his credentials to the White House, ending the hiatus in high-level Iraqi diplomatic presence here since the departure of Nizar Hamdoon in mid-September.

The 53-year-old Anbari, who holds a master's degree in law from Harvard University, was Iraq's ambassador to the Court of St. James before coming here. He is an economist and specialist in oil matters, having served in various positions in the Iraqi National Oil Co. AID's Hunger Awards . . .

The Agency for International Development has announced 11 winners of its 1987 presidential End Hunger awards, recognizing individual and institutional efforts to alleviate world hunger.

And the envelopes, please . . . .

The lifetime achievement award went to Dr. Y.C. James Yen, a naturalized American born in China, for his work as founder and chairman of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction.

Winner in the government category was M. Peter McPherson, AID chief from 1981 to mid-1987 and now deputy secretary of the Treasury.

The seven judges, who included a White House staffer and an AID official, cited McPherson for his work at AID during the 1984-86 African famine. Meritorious Mine Workers . . .

President Reagan gave a tip of the hat last week to three Labor Department employes who were involved in the rescue of 18-month-old Jessica McClure from a well shaft in Midland, Tex.

Wayne Kanack, Dave Lilly and Sid Kirk, employes of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, were in the front row when Reagan addressed a job conference here Friday.

Reagan noted, "Dave Lilly chipped away by hand the last few inches of rock to make the first physical contact with little Jessica."