On Monday, February 14th, the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation hosted a screening of Race to Nowhere in the 60 Wall Street auditorium. This documentary film examines the high-pressure culture of overachievement that exists in schools across the country, encouraged by current policies and practices largely concerned with testing, performance and competition. By showing the film and hosting a discussion afterward, Deutsche Bank joined a national grassroots effort begun by the filmmaker, Vicki Abeles, to engage concerned parents in a dialogue about the current state of education.
Cristina Huezo, the Foundation’s Program Officer for education, introduced the film with a brief overview of the Foundation’s strategy for education grantmaking, which focuses on creating opportunities for low-income, minority students that will enable them to be successful in college and in their careers. “We chose to screen this film because it illustrates that even students with an abundance of supports and resources at their disposal are struggling to make the grade,” Ms. Huezo said. “These students ultimately becoming disengaged, depressed or burnt out, and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.” Ms. Huezo was joined onstage by Clara Hemphill, founding editor or Insideschools.org, author of three guidebooks to NYC public schools, and currently an editor at the Center for NYC Affairs at the New School, for a conversation about issues and questions raised by the film.
When asked about how working parents can aid a child who might be struggling with schoolwork, Ms. Hemphill recommended encouraging students to ask their teachers for help. After all, she said, “it is the school’s responsibility to educate our children.” Ms. Hemphill also advised that relatively simple activities such as “family dinner and an early bedtime” can do a great deal for reducing a child’s stress level and maintaining his or her physical and mental health.
The Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation will continue this important discussion on April 27th with a screening of Waiting for Superman, another recent documentary examining the achievement gap within our schools and some possible methods for improving the quality of our children’s education.