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[Susan notes: Although it did no good, I advised all my young relatives not to take Advanced Placement and put themselves in that rat race.

And how can Thomas Friedman be right that children aren't working hard enough when kindergartners have worksheets instead of sand tables?]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Re Obama's Homework Assignment:

Thomas L. Friedman may be right that students are not working hard enough, but I fear there is an even more pernicious problem: the growing percentage of top students who are doing nothing but work. They are taking five honors or Advanced Placement classes each semester of high school, and rarely have time for a dinner with their families or a relaxed afternoon with their friends.

Hard work can be beneficial in the service of a real interest, but not simply to eke out a few more points on an SAT or to have another honors class to impress a college admissions officer. Part of the reason for this studying frenzy is an obsession to gain a spot in one of the handful of Ivy League colleges these kids believe are necessary for them to have a satisfying life; part is parental pressure to achieve Ivy League status.

I recently read a comment by the president of Barnard, Debora Spar, who described the entering freshmen as exhausted after years of high school pressure. What are we doing to these kids and why are we doing it?

Elaine Yaffe

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