Earlier today I gathered my courage and I posted a link to a documentary film, "Race to Nowhere", on my daughter's school's Facebook page.
After I clicked on the "post" button, I realized that I was literally sweating. Why? Because I am concerned about how my 'little act of sanity/rebellion may impact on my daughter- who has a 3.5 grade point average, participates regulary in class discussions, has excellent time management skills, is on the student council, is the head of the photograhy club, and is a devoted member of the "Interact Club"- a charitable organization that helps kids who are less fortunate then she.
The film, which features the heartbreaking stories of students across the country who have been pushed to the brink by over-scheduling, over-testing and the relentless pressure to achieve, points to a silent epidemic in our schools. Through the testimony of educators, parents and education experts, it reveals an education system in which cheating has become commonplace; students have become disengaged; stress-related illness, depression and burnout are rampant; and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired. Shown nationwide and internationally in more than 6,000 schools, universities, cinemas, hospitals, corporations and community centers, “Race to Nowhere” has become the centerpiece of a nationwide, grassroots movement for the transformation of education.
Featured in the film:
- Dr. Madeline Levine, Clinical Psychologist and author of the best-seller, The Price of Privilege
- Dr. Wendy Mogel, Clinical Psychologist and author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee
- Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, Adolescent Medicine Specialist, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
- Dr. Deborah Stipek, Dean of the School of Education at Stanford University
- Dr. Denise Pope, Co-Founder, Challenge Success, Stanford University
- Sara Bennett, Founder, Stop Homework
I did this because I am deeply concerned about how the amount of homework she is expected to complete (anywhere from 2 1/2-5 hours a night) is affecting her physical and mental health. And because I know, in my heart of hearts, that this isn't how it is supposed to be. I hear the same thing from other parents, and grandparents, of middle and high students, across the country whether their kids are in public or private school. So, I am not alone in my opinion.
I really hope it has a positive effect. But I'm scared. I've tried talking to the 'powers that be' at her small, private, girls school, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. Or worse. Though a few teachers have been kind and courageous enough to state off the record, that they are also concerned about the homework situation. Last year, due to the amount of homework she recieved nightly, on weekends, and even right before midterms, and finals, she was chronically underslept, and was often in tears because she feared she couldn't or wouldn't be able to keep up. This year, she developed migrane headaches as well.
I am determined to do what ever is in my power not to let this continue. And to help my daughter feel like a human being able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life again. Like reading a book just because she feels like it. Or even having time to, dare I say it "do nothing", instead of a human doing who is constantly worried about her future. I am worried about her future too, which is why I am acting now.
What about your kids? I'd love to hear from other parents who are facing similar issues. I'll let you know what happens here in my next post. Wish me luck, I am going to need it!
To find out more about what you can do about this issue, visit www.racetonowhere.com
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