How much stress can an 8-year-old stand? I spent this morning listening to stories of third graders vomiting, crying, sleepless, completely stressed about these dreaded citywide exams.

Parents are paying thousands of dollars to tutors, kids are worried sick, and why? No good reason at all.

I might be singing a different tune if my own child were really in danger of failing, but I do feel confident that the exam tests third grade work, third grade learning, and if these kids are in third grade, they’ll be able to handle the exam.

I heard about one teacher who’s been telling her students “this test is harder than any of the work I’ve given you! You’re going to have to do better work than you’ve ever done before!”

Now what’s the damn point of that? It’s not only not true, but it’s completely unhelpful.


The New York Times story (registration required blablabla) makes clear how much of this stress is just caused by the stupidity of overly-anxious parents and teachers.

“‘She’s crying at night,’ Karen Hussey said of her daughter, Jennifer, a third grader at Public School 203 in Queens. ‘The poor kid’s like a frazzle. She dropped off the softball team. Something had to give.’

Ms. Hussey said she had paid $380 for the Queensborough courses, as well as $150 for extra test preparation at her daughter’s school each morning before class. Some parents said they had canceled spring vacations in favor of classes, flashcards and thick sheaves of sample test questions.

“I was like, there’s no way that we’re going to have this life-altering test and we’re going to go to Disney World,” said Lisa A. Edmiston, 39, whose son, Stefan, 9, attends Public School 87 in Manhattan.”

What is wrong with these parents? “Life-altering?” Hello? How about a sense of proportion?

Laura Rand said that on the night of the panel’s vote last month, her daughter, Dana, a third grader at P.S. 203 in Queens, insisted on staying up for the 11 o’clock news.

“Not only are the teachers feeling the pressure, but the children are feeling the pressure and the parents are becoming lunatics because all they are thinking about is this test,” Mrs. Rand said.

Diahann Kow said she tried to distract her daughter, Kaleila, 8, a third grader at Public School 115 in Brooklyn, whenever the promotion issue was on the news.

What in the world is a third grader doing paying this much attention to the news? And staying up for the 11:00 news? How the hell is the kid supposed to do any work in school the next day?

I’m sorry, but this pressure is coming from the PARENTS. They should be ashamed.

And here’s the result, and the real shame.

One student, Michael Skok, 9, called the tests “the hardest thing I have ever done.”

Another, Taylor Georgio, 9, said she knew she was not alone in worrying about the tests. As her teacher at Public School 79 in Queens discussed them the other day, Taylor said she glanced over at the boy next to her. In big letters, she said, he had scrawled two words on a piece of paper: “I’m scared.”