spread the word

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7. Spread the Word

When Vicki Abeles realized that the endless homework and standardized-test preparation being forced on her kids was souring them on school, she decided to make a documentary about the problem. With little hope of landing a conventional distributor, the lawyer and mother of three school-age kids screened her film at every church, library and school that would have her. Viewers told their friends and fellow parents, who requested screenings in their cities. "We developed a supportive community for the film by word of mouth," says Abeles. The rough cut expanded to a feature-length film, Race to Nowhere, that's now been screened in thousands of venues across 30 countries. Abeles, who frequently moderates audience discussions afterward, says, "With every screening, the conversation about homework is starting to change."