Devon Marvin was an outgoing and studious 13-year-old girl who loved music and nature. But an unexpected failing grade on a middle school algebra test was a burden too hard to bear for Devon, who doubted she could get into an advanced algebra class with that mark on her record.
So, two weeks later, she tragically took her life.
The story shook Devon’s California community. Parents had some idea that the stress of school and the push to excel were taking their toll on children, but they quickly had to come to grips with the fact that too much pressure was being placed on children to overachieve and outperform their peers.
Local lawyer-turned-filmmaker Vicki Abeles was one of those parents. She decided to take Devon’s story and use it as a catalyst for change. The result was Race to Nowhere, the provocative documentary film that explores the pressure-packed educational landscape and America’s focus on high-stakes testing. (Watch the trailer.)
Lehigh’s College of Education will show a public screening of the popular—and controversial—film at 7 p.m. Thursday in Sinclair Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased online for $10, or at the door for $15. Only 30 tickets remained Wednesday morning.
The evening will also include a panel discussion and Q&A session featuring Patti Manz, associate professor of school psychology at Lehigh, and Lehigh Valley educators Sam Varano ‘97G, principal at Souderton High School and 2011 Pennsylvania High School Teacher of the Year, and Rob Thornburg, director of student services at Parkland School District.
Moderating the discussion will be Ron Yoshida, professor of educational leadership.
Information about the evening can be found on the College of Education’s Race to Nowhere Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RaceToLehigh. The page features a series of thought-provoking articles about America’s educational landscape, as well as interesting facts and figures related to classroom performance and high-stakes testing.
Story by Tom Yencho
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2011