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"Race to Nowhere" highlights pressure-cooker culture

Published on: December 30, 2013

For me, the most poignant moment in the film "Race to Nowhere" happens when a very cute, curly-haired third grader tearfully reports, " If we forget this [question] or do a different one, then we’re going to get in trouble and we’ll lose 5 minutes of recess."

Other memorable quotes: "I can’t really remember the last time I just went outside and ran around." "We do whatever it takes to get an A." "When I had kids, I didn’t think that the only time I’d see them was for 20 minutes at dinner."

Everyone these days can relate to these over programmed, over-stressed kids and their equally stressed-out parents.  This is the "No Child Left Behind" generation - the students who must memorize facts for the almighty test; who must add sports, community service and talent to their college-ap resume, and who study into the wee hours of the morning to make those A's.

Last night's showing of "Race to Nowhere" at the Stroum Jewish Community Center was a sell-out. Followed by a panel discussion, many parents in the audience voiced their own concerns about the state of education today - and the sad effects this high-pressure, uber-competitive culture has on our children.

How to promote changes in our schools? No real solutions were offered lat night - in the film or in the room. The climb to Yale or Berkeley or Princeton is well-ingrained in our particular social order. No matter that less competitive schools offer equally stellar experiences and educations. The truth is, too many parents and their kids aspire to too few schools. Until that changes, the race continues.

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