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MAKING HIGH STANDARDS STICK PALISADES, N.Y. - President Clinton warned participants at the 1999 National Education Summit that the cost of retreating from their push for high academic standards would far exceed the early pain felt by students, parents, and teachers in failing to reach them. Forty-five US states now have standards, compared with 14 in 1996. Next year, nearly every state will test English and math in elementary, middle, and high schools. Clinton called the states' actions on standards over the last three years an "astonishing move," but added that now comes "the hard part" - enabling students to meet the standards. Louis Gerstner, chairman of IBM, and co-chair of the summit's sponsor, Achieve, predicted that pressure will grow to eliminate tests or weaken standards as it becomes clear that not all students will measure up. In Illinois, for example, more than 40 percent of students do not meet the state objectives. Still, Gerstner urged state governors to have "the guts and the political will to press forward."

Children in Taiwan return to school TUNGSHIH, TAIWAN - On an island where education is valued more than almost anything else, not even Taiwan's worst earthquake in decades can keep children out of school. Less than two weeks after the tremor hit, young people in central Taiwan are getting ready to leave camps and makeshift shelters and head back to class. The swift return underscores the fact that kids can't afford to fall behind in the highly competitive school system. "There's already enough homework without missing classes," said Teng Wen-hua, a tree-grower and a father of two boys in elementary school. "We just want to avoid as much disruption to their futures as possible."

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Whistle while you work MADRID, SPAIN - Gomera, a tiny Spanish island off West Africa, is resurrecting an ancient system of whistling used by rural folk to communicate across canyons. The code of peeps and whirs will be a mandatory weekly course taught in elementary schools. So far, the teaching corps has two members: a shepherd and a farmer.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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