WRITTEN BY VICKI ABELES
Students lack school-life balance: Column - USA TODAY | September 25, 2014 | Since school started this month, my 15-year-old son, Zak, has been having trouble sleeping. He's been waking up in the middle of the night, worrying if he's finished everything on his to-do list.
Compared to many students in our San Francisco neighborhood, Zak has a "light" schedule. He goes to school, participates in jazz band and does his homework. By design, he's not the classically overscheduled child. And yet, Zak's daily routine of school-band-homework still manages to eat up most of his day.
When Saturday finally rolls around, he's not the carefree teen I wish he could be. Instead, he's anxious, calculating whether he has enough time to get together with friends in between weekend assignments. Like many adults, he can't find the "off" switch.
"It's Not a Race: A Letter to My Daughter Before College" - Huffington Post | July 8, 2014 | You are smart, soulful and compassionate, and have loved working with animals since you were barely big enough to walk. At times the endless race left you exhausted, alienated and discouraged about becoming a veterinarian. But you held onto the dream. And when everyone in our town obsessed about Ivy League admissions above all else, you swallowed hard and stuck to your own definition of success.
"It's Curbing America's Homework Habit, California Parents Press School to Stop the Homework Madness" - Huffington Post | June 17, 2014 | My son, 15 years old and normally bounding with energy, sits bleary-eyed at our kitchen counter, studying before dinner. After a quick meal, Zak will trudge upstairs to slog through several additional hours of homework, only to get up early the next morning to do more.p>
"Crossing the Line: How the Academic Rat Race Is Making Our Kids Sick" - Huffington Post | May 19, 2014 | Last winter, I watched my daughter, a high school senior, survive an anxiety-ridden few weeks leading up to final exams, beset with the flu, little sleep and constant studying. With that done, she switched to incessantly monitoring her grades online, fearing that her hopes of becoming a veterinarian ride on these numbers. And I had to ask: Is this what childhood has come to?
"Outlook’s Sixth-Annual Spring Cleaning: AP Tests" - The Washington Post | May 1, 2014 | To hear the College Board tell it, Advanced Placement classes can do it all: Prepare teens to succeed in college! Expose poor and minority students to more rigorous material! Reduce the cost of college by allowing students to graduate earlier! The educational and emotional toll these classes take would be too high even if the AP program delivered on all its promises. But it doesn’t.
"The Hidden Health Costs of the College Arms Race" - Medium | April, 2014 | ... We’ve waited and worried for months while gatekeepers at thousands of colleges chose among a staggering pile of testaments from more than 1.5 million high school students. Now, at last, the decisions are made, triumphs celebrated, hearts broken. As we open those anticipated letters, we should ask ourselves what it has taken to get here. And more specifically: What has it taken out of our children?
"Replace the Race" - Huffington Post | February 18, 2014 | Since the release of Race to Nowhere, I've traveled across the country, hearing stories from parents, educators and students who struggle with the pressures of our achievement-obsessed education system and culture. However, over the last couple years, I've noticed an inspiring shift.
"How We Teach Kids to Cheat on Tests" - The Washington Post | February 2, 2014 | We don't ponder whether the roots of cheating are in the very fabric of our competitive culture - a culture in which status points such as a prestigious alma mater, a six-figure salary and a desirable zip code in which to raise one's family are seen as the markers of American success.
"Why Christie's Fix is Misguided" - The Washington Post | January 29, 2014 | I've found no compelling research that supports the proposition that a longer school day improves educational outcomes. Students who are more engaged, curious, involved and passionate about what's happening in their classrooms learn more.
"A New Education Story" - The Washington Post | March 15th, 2013 | ... you don’t have to be a filmmaker to get your story out there. Blog, vlog, have a conversation about education among friends at your next dinner date – do whatever it takes to be vocal about what education can be. Telling stories can change our minds and our world.
"After Newtown: Taking Time to Connect" - Huffington Post | December 26, 2012 | ... reflection is more important than ever--this year and every year. We need, as a nation and as individual families, to give ourselves time to contemplate this tragedy and to empathize with the suffering of our fellow parents in Newtown. Doing so might give us a deeper awareness and greater impetus to wade through our usual holiday stress and business to embrace what can be the best part of the season: time with loved ones.
"Once Upon a Time" - Huffington Post | December 11, 2012 | One would be hard-pressed to find a parent who doesn't, at times, doubt the decisions they make for their children. Pampers or Huggies? Soccer or baseball? Dance classes or art? As children grow, such decisions aren't limited to "this" or "that"; rather, it becomes SAT Prep classes and AP classes. Tutoring and ballet. The more-is-better, bigger-is-better mentality begins to inform every decision, leaving students with full schedules and sleep deprivation in the name of "achievement" and "results."
"The Blame Game" - The Washington Post/Valerie Strauss | October 8th, 2012 | By Vicki Abeles & Wendy Grolnick, author of "Pressured Parents; Stressed-Out Kids." Hollywood isn’t typically lauded for its subtlety. But as parents, educators and advocates for better schools for America’s students, we can hope for a truth-based, reasoned, blameless national conversation about education.
"The Supplies Kids Really Need for School" - The Washington Post | September 4th, 2012 | By Vicki Abeles and Dr. Madeline Levine, author of the new book, "Teach your children well."
"The Rat Race of Childhood: Why We Need to Balance Students' Lives" - Huffington Post | July 20, 2012 | By Vicki Abeles | Abeles reflects on 2012's Aspen Ideas Festival, Anne-Marie Slaughter and why "the question of how and why our education system encourages our children to 'have it all' remains largely unexplored."
"Finding Lessons in the Cheating at Stuyvesant" New York Times | July 2, 2012 | We're teaching our children that external, visible indicators of accomplishment are what matter most.
"Assigning Homework with One Voice" - Huffington Post | June 4, 2012 | Why the National PTA Should Adopt National Homework Guidelines
"Is This What Education Is Really About?" - The Washington Post | May 2012 | By Vicki Abeles and Jo Boaler, Stanford University | Welcome to standardized testing season, when students nationwide are clearing their desks, sharpening their pencils and fighting feelings of anxiety to meet our schools’, states’, and federal government’s desire for a simple, quantifiable way to measure them. Is this really what education is about?
"Why We're Getting the Homework Question Wrong" - The Washington Post | May 2012 | Are American students... spending too much of their lives at their desks? And is putting in that grueling second shift of homework paying off in the long-term?
"Walking Zombies" - The Washington Post | March 2012 | By Vicki Abeles and Dr. Abigail Baird, Vassar College | This coming week most of us will lose an hour of sleep as we set our clocks ahead for Daylight Savings Time. But imagine if you lost an hour of sleep — or even more — every night of your life. That’s what it’s like for our nation’s teens, who are facing an epidemic of sleep deprivation.
"Good Mother' vs. Tiger Mother" - The Atlantic | May 6, 2011 | Flanagan and I may agree on one point. In concluding her article, she writes, "Life is a series of choices, each with its own rewards and consequences . . . At best--at the very best--it can only offer us choices between two good things, and as we grasp at one, we lose the other forever."
"RACE TO NOWHERE" INSPIRED SUCCESSES
"California State PTA adopts homework resolution initiated by Burbank parents" - Burbank Leader | May 16, 2014 | The California State PTA adopted a resolution this month that stems from work developed by parents at John Burroughs High School who examined how homework has affected fellow parents’ and their children’s lives.
"In McLean, a crusade to get people to back off in the parenting arms race" - Washington Post | March 23, 2014 | It’s a simple white oval with three big, black letters: JMU. But to Wilma Bowers, who sports it proudly on her black Audi sedan, it’s an act of subversion… Flaunting a JMU bumper sticker in a field of Harvards, Yales and Stanfords, Bowers says, is a rallying cry.
"The Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports" - Changing the Game Project | 2014 | “My 4th grader tried to play basketball and soccer last year,” a mom recently told me as we sat around the dinner table after one of my speaking engagements. “It was a nightmare. My son kept getting yelled at by both coaches as we left one game early to race to a game in the other sport. He hated it.”
WRITTEN BY EDUCATION WRITERS
"Snooze or Lose" - New York Magazine | October 2007 | By Po Bronson
Overstimulated, overscheduled kids are getting at least an hour’s less sleep than they need, a deficiency that, new research reveals, has the power to set their cognitive abilities back years.
"What if the Secret to Success is Failure" - New York Times | September 14, 2011 | By Paul Tough
“Race to Nowhere,” a movie about the stresses facing mostly privileged American high-school students that has become an underground hit in many wealthy suburbs, where one-time showings at schools, churches and community centers bring out hundreds of concerned parents.
"All Work and No Play" - The Atlantic | October 12, 2011 | By Esther Entin
What are your memories of playing as a child? Some of us will remember hide and seek, house, tag, and red rover red rover. Others may recall arguing about rules in kickball or stick ball or taking turns at jump rope, or creating imaginary worlds with our dolls, building forts, putting on plays, or dressing-up. From long summer days to a few precious after-school hours, kid-organized play may have filled much of your free time. But what about your children? Are their opportunities for play the same as yours were? Most likely not.
"Beautiful Brains" - National Geographic | October 2011 | By David Dobbs
Beautiful Brains: Moody. Impulsive. Maddening. Why do teenagers act the way they do? Viewed through the eyes of evolution, their most exasperating traits may be the key to success as adults.