When I visited Finland, which is widely recognized as one of the top performing nations in the world, every educator spoke of their goals. They want their students to be happy, healthy, and enthusiastic learners. They did not care about test scores. The years from the beginning of school (at age 7) to high school graduation are considered a “standardized-testing-free zone,” as Pasi Sahlberg put it in his book “Finnish Lessons.”

In the U.S., our leaders want to turn schools into pressure cookers. They want to keep the students and teachers in a constant state of stress. Students worry if they will pass or fail. They worry if their performance on the test might cause their teacher to lose his or her job. Teachers worry that their students’ scores might ruin their chance of staying employed. They worry about keeping their job. They worry that their test-based evaluation might put them out of work, and they won’t be able to pay their mortgage or feed their family.

Corporate reformers think that stress is good. They think that teachers have a cushy job, and students are slackers. They want to see more stress.

But stress is not good for children or adults. Wendy Lecker wrote this article, summarizing the warnings of professional associations. She says that the current obsession with high-stakes testing has created an unhealthy climate in the schools. She calls it “state-sanctioned child abuse.” Fear breaks children. It does not make them joyful learners.

The current so-called reforms, she writes, “has created a school environment that is devastating to our children’s development and mental health.

“Our most vulnerable children often suffer “toxic stress:” prolonged activation of the body’s stress response system brought on by chronic traumatic experiences. Toxic stress disrupts the development of the areas of the brain associated with learning and can have lifelong consequences.”

How much longer must we endure the consequences of truly disastrous policies shaped by people who have no understanding of children, learning, or the conditions necessary for education to flourish?

I think the end is in sight. This house of cards will fall because it hurts children. And we are not a mean nation. Kindness and generosity will eventually prevail over harmful policies. The parents of this nation will demand an end to policies that not only hurt their children but ruin education.