Princeton High School students are not unique for being sleep-deprived, stressed out, and feeling little joy as they “do high school.” But Princeton is among a growing list of communities that is taking a hard look at its culture of childhood and education, thanks in part to a local education advisor who is urging change.
Jess Deutsch first saw the film Race To Nowhere at the Arts Council of Princeton, with eleven other people in 20010. The morning after, she called Reel Link Films to find out how she could get the film in front of a bigger audience.It turns out Deutsch was not alone. Race to Nowhere” has been screened in more than 6,000 public and community settings in all 50 states and more than 30 countries, and interest continues to grow. Called a “must-see movie” by The New York Times, screenings of “Race to Nowhere” have provided a forum for communities to discuss the pressure-cooker climate that dominates American classrooms. The film exposes how excessive homework, high-stakes testing, and a cyclical trap of busyness and competition have led to an epidemic of disengaged, unprepared unhealthy young people.
“It has been seven years since I first go this film in front of about 500 people at Princeton High School in 2010. Change takes time. I think awareness has been growing that the status quo is not neceessary, ideal or sustainable. The new PHS report underlines the urgency for change. I think by showing the film now, in the context of the data, we can really move the needle.”
On Sunday, May 21, Princeton Balance, Facebook group that Deutsch founded in response to the first screening of Race To Nowhere, will hold a free screening of the film at John Witherspoon Middle School. (Event information here.) Filmmaker Vicki Abeles, who continues to travel around the country and internationally with RACE TO NOWHERE as well as her latest book and film BEYOND MEASURE will hold a Q&A for the audience after the film, along with Calvin Chin, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Princeton University. Says Deutsch, “I want people to come away with a sense that they are not alone, and that we must do some simple things differently if we really want our children to thrive. I think the film and Vicki and Calvin will help parents rethink the race, and imagine healthier, more authentic paths.”
Jess Deutsch, EdM,LSW is an educational (college and pre-med) advisor in private practice with students and parents in Princeton. She is a Princeton University alumna, and a former Associate Director, Health Professions Advising at Princeton University.
Vicki Abeles is Vicki Abeles is a filmmaker, an ex-Wall Street lawyer, and a mother of three. Her documentary Race to Nowhere hit a nerve with its vivid portrayal of today’s broken education system. Her second film, Beyond Measure, about the groundbreaking leaders transforming schools for the better, premieres in 2015. She lives in the San Francisco area with her family.