A while back, I wrote about a really powerful movie, “The Race to Nowhere,” and the “dark side of America’s achievement culture.” As I wrote after the movie, I don’t agree with 100% of the concepts, and I don’t think that hard work is ruining every child, but I do think that the dialogue of workload is important.  And, when there’s compelling evidence that school and achievement stress and anxiety is taking a toll on children, we need to listen.  There’s no doubt that if kids want to take on school and sports or extracurricular activities in high school, they could easily have a 15+ hour workday…at 14 years old!

Reminds me of the latest headlines where kids are paying – and receiving – thousands of dollars to take the SATs for other kids – HUH?!

I applaud the documentary’s producer, Vicki Abeles, for not only getting her film into tons of schools and communities, but for continuing to extend her message to driving change.  She writes, “In the months ahead, the End the Race.org movement will inspire action on homework, testing, rankings, admissions and other educational practices to create positive and sustainable change for our students.”

Up first on the agenda, they’ve created a “Homework Pledge” – your promise to work toward homework-free weekend and holiday breaks in your school.

Abeles and her team share the following…

The research on homework is clear and unanimous. Most homework does not increase learning, raise scores or prepare students for the future.

By pledging to work toward homework-free weekend and holiday breaks in your school, you support a cultural shift that values balance, family time, sleep and health for our students.

And you join dozens of schools and districts already taking action in the wake of their Race to Nowhere screenings, including:

  • Ridgewood High School in New Jersey, which has banned homework during both its winter break and February break this year.
  • Walter Payton High School in Chicago, IL, which has eliminated homework for Thanksgiving, winter and spring break this year with no tests or projects due immediately upon the return from break.
  • Wellesley Middle School in Wellesley, Mass., which has committed to a no-homework policy on religious holidays and school vacations.
  • Galloway School District in Galloway, New Jersey, whose superintendent has proposed a ban on assignments on weekends, holidays and school vacations.

Our high school sent a note about 4 homework-free weekends – that’s a start!  Free time shouldn’t be such a valuable commodity in our communities…it should be part of our lives on an ongoing basis.

Love it!  Consider sharing this post on your Facebook or Twitter accounts so we can spread the word to other parents & schools.