Education Minister Mary Coughlan says the present points system is the "fairest way" for selecting third-level entry but the evidence suggests otherwise.
It's not fair if you are a boy and have less chance of taking a subject at higher level.
It's not fair if you are a girl and more likely to suffer stress.
It's not fair if your parents do not have the money to buy you grinds.
It's not fair if you have to sacrifice what you are interested in to take subjects that will give you more points.
It's not fair if all the time of the guidance counsellor is taken up with those completing CAO forms.
It's not fair if you come from a poor family.
It's not fair if you are not good at the type of examinations we have in this country.
It's not fair if you have to teach the exam and not the subject.
It's not fair if the students in your lecture know how to remember things but not how to question them.
It's not fair that if the Government placse such a high priority on third-level education it is not willing to think about better ways of getting people in.
What's wrong with at least looking again at the idea of a limited lottery for selection for some college courses, or some other method of selection, Ms Coughlan?
Yesterday she moved to kill off the debate before it really starts about an alternative method of assessing students and selecting them for college.
She didn't mince her words when she dismissed calls for a fresh look at the points system. It's the "fairest way", she stated bluntly. And she probably spoke for many who genuinely believe that the present system is the fairest way of selecting students.
As for the stress levels revealed in the ESRI study disclosed on Monday among Leaving Cert students, her response was of the "put up with it" variety.
"The harsh reality of life is that over your lifetime, you will always have pressure," she said.
However, other countries do things in different ways with less pressure, and less negative consequences for students' wellbeing and their education -- so why can't we?
There is clearly a division opening up between those who do not see the need for much change and many in the educational establishment who are unhappy both with the assessment of second-level students and the huge reliance on Leaving Cert results to screen them for third-level entry.
Ms Coughlan and her officials may have been miffed by NUI Maynooth professor Tom Collins's claim in Monday's Irish Independent that the system is no longer "fit for purpose". As chair of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment his comments carry some weight. And he is not alone in his views.
Yesterday he was joined by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals which said that for many students an exam such as the Leaving Cert did nothing more than act as a measure of failure.
"It's a case of the third-level tail wagging the second-level dog and we need to de-couple the final certification from third-level entry," its director Clive Byrne stated somewhat colourfully.
Even Ms Coughlan's predecessor, Batt O'Keeffe, had concerns, saying there was too much "rote learning" at second level while the Higher Education Authority's chief executive Tom Boland said students in second-level schools were being "spoon fed" and that third-level students now expected the same.
But the rote learning and spoon feeding is geared towards one aim -- getting the points in the results. The claim that the system is brutal but fair all too often stifles discussion. Try telling students from disadvantaged areas who cannot afford the grinds that the system is fair and they may beg to differ.
Much has happened since the Points Commission reported in 1999. There are now other routes developed into college. Increasing numbers are getting places through Post Leaving Certificate and other awards.
But for immediate school leavers hoping for a college place, the pressure is still on to get those points and, as the ESRI study shows, that pressure is putting students under great strain.
The evidence is also that teachers are increasingly teaching to the test to help their students acquire points. Not alone is their health suffering but their education is as well.
As the principals' spokesperson Clive Byrne remarked about our second-level curriculum and assessment: "We've become complacent. Our present system, although enjoying widespread support, doesn't encourage independent learning, self-direction and creativity and as a nation we will suffer if these issues aren't addressed."
He could add that all too often students get into third level unable to think for themselves. Reform of second level should go hand in hand with a renewed look at third-level selection mechanisms. The two cannot be separate entirely but it may be possible to combine exam results with lotteries for places above a reasonable cut-off point, more use of portfolios, stipulating certain subjects for an increasing number of courses etc. Let the debate begin, minister.