The film portrays the pressures when schools pile on hours of homework and coaches turn sports into year-round obligations. Left somewhat unexamined is the role of parents whose high expectations contribute the most pressure of all.
“Everyone expects us to be superheroes,” one high school senior in the film says.
. . . Vicki Abeles, the middle-aged mother and first-time filmmaker who made “Race to Nowhere,” picked up a camera when a doctor said that her then-12-year-old daughter’s stomachaches were being caused by stress from school.
Stress is a problem for the minority of students who want to qualify for highly selective colleges. They’re not racing to nowhere. They’re racing to the Ivy League, Stanford, Berkeley, etc. They’re told they need high grades in honors and Advanced Placement classes and high test scores and extracurriculars and community service to get into their dream college. And, often, that’s true.
But who’s pushing students to aspire to very competitive colleges? Who’s paying for private-school tuition or a mortgage in a suburb with high-scoring schools? Who’d yell bloody murder if their children’s school eased off on homework and tests, canceled Advanced Placement classes and trimmed extracurriculars and sports teams? Mom and Dad, look in the mirror.