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"To put educational excellence within the reach of everone." No lesser goal is acceptable for the United States, and Education Secretary Bell gets an A for stressing that everybody -- "students, educators, parents, public officials, citizens" -- must work harder for it.

Nor does anyone have to wait for the new National Commission on Excellence in Education to spur academic standards, as Mr. Bell said it was charged to do. Vigorous follow-through could bring widespread benefits from such commission assignments as seeing how social changes affect education and how successful programs work in America and abroad. But the excellence already sought and demonstrated by so many Americans and their schools could start spreading right now -- if more parents exemplify respect for learning; if more teachers convey high expectations of every student's capabilities; if more students themselves decide, "Today I'm going to get everything right."

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