'Race to Nowhere' is racing through schools

The film, which looks at the pressures on students, is proving popular with parents.


A new film about the stresses imposed on American schoolkids these days has been quietly drawing intent viewership across the country. "Race to Nowhere" is now popping up with screenings at schools and other institutions around the Seattle area.

"Race to Nowhere" questions the emphasis on testing and achievement at schools. Among its other screenings in the Puget Sound region, the film will open a three-part conversation about education at Seattle University. The College of Education will host the screening today (Jan. 25), but the web site for the series of conversations says the showing is sold out.

This documentary by filmmaker Vicki Abeles, a mother, grew out of her deep concerns about the high-pressure lives that children today are forced to lead in school and elsewhere. A New York Times article in December said that the film had one-week runs in New York and Los Angeles, but was mainly being shown in school auditoriums, churches, and temples. Information on screenings is here. According to the film's web site, upcoming showings are scheduled in Seattle, Shoreline, Yelm, Mercer Island, and Newberg, Ore.

Anyone acquainted with youngsters who are booked solid with school, homework, sports and other extracurricular activities, play dates, and service commitments taken on in order to flesh out future applications to college, all in a era of intense global anxiety, will appreciate exactly what Abeles' point of departure is. At the screenings, the film is typically followed by a discussion with the audience.

As part of Crosscut’s coverage of social concerns, Judy Lightfoot writes about how the region's people face challenges in a time of economic stress and diminished expectations. She often draws on her weekly one-on-one coffees with individuals sharing our public spaces who are socially isolated by homelessness or mental illness. Formerly a teacher and professor, she also writes about books, education, and the arts. Email judy.lightfoot@crosscut.com.


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