Envelope Day

The hideous tradition of Envelope Day is here. You can almost hear 85,000 8th grade parents grinding their teeth. The lucky few who got their High School placements last month can breath easy. This process is the price we pay for choice. The question is whether it is worth it or not. I'm sure it is not worth it for the kids at the gifted middle schools who don't get offered the Specialized High School seats that seemed to be their right or the siblings that didn't get into the schools that their family members attended, the hard working achievers that chose the overly popular schools and come out of the process with nothing, or the students for whatever reason had too many absences in 7th grade. I can't comprehend the pain of a student who is baffled by the process, or the hopelessness of a hard worker whose grades or test scores don't qualify. For the children who have invested a lot in the process, who feel that their 14 year old self esteem or dignity may be dictated by that letter sent out by computer. Right now I feel sorry for the kids I know that quietly wait for the elation or despair. New York is not easy. I just hope that they don't feel that the envelope is infallible. It doesn't say who they are or what they can be. I hope they aren't sorry and they have good friends and find a teacher that will change their lives and make them love learning for it's own sake. I hope that they will know their own worth no matter what the envelope says.
In Great Britain aren't there exams that you take in middle school that determine what kind of training you will have? How do children there handle the "this test will affect the rest of my life" pressure? It seems like we are getting closer and closer to that.