Columbia Parents for Public Schools to host documentary 'Race to Nowhere' screening

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 | 1:08 p.m. CDT; updated 9:05 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, November 1, 2011

COLUMBIA — Good grades, perfect standardized test scores, sports involvement, community service, involvement in the arts, resumes and job interviews: These pressures are jam-packed into students' lives today.

On Wednesday, Columbia Parents for Public Schools will host a screening of the documentary "Race to Nowhere" to spark conversation about the pressures children face.

If you go

What: "Race to Nowhere," a documentary about public school education, presented by the Columbia Parents for Public Schools. A panel discussion follows.

When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Ragtag Cinema, 10 Hitt St.

Admission: Free, but a $5 donation to the parents' group is suggested

The film screening at Ragtag Cinema will begin at 5:30 p.m. 

"Race to Nowhere" challenges how schools are academically structured and whether the achievement-obsessed culture in which U.S. children are raised properly prepares students for college and the world.

The documentary explores how student pressures lead to stress, depression and sometimes even suicide. It makes the case that when students graduate from college, they have the resume but not the motivation.

"It touches on a lot of issues that we hear parents responding to, and we saw it as an interesting opportunity to open up some debates," said Elizabeth Chang, co-vice president of Columbia Parents for Public Schools.

The group is a local branch of the national Parents for Public Schools. Its mission is to help maintain a partnership between parents and local public schools to achieve the best education for children. 

"The board (of Columbia Parents for Public Schools) is interested in putting together events that will allow a range of parents throughout Columbia to come together and talk about common interests and goals and to have input in changes in public schools," Chang said.

She said common concerns include academic achievement gaps among students and making sure that all students have equal access to a public education.

The screening will be followed by a 30-minute panel discussion to engage the audience in issues that Columbia’s schools face.

Chang expects the documentary to resonate in Columbia.

"In a university town, the values and priorities of higher education are particularly in the spotlight," she said. 

Admission to the event is free, although donations are appreciated. 

For more information, call the local chapter at 447-2349.

Cho Ling Ngai contributed to this report.


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