How schools have changed

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How schools have changed

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Okay, I think that some of the major changes in schools across the country over the last 20 years or so have been that… in major cities across the country there’s been an influx of immigration and particularly of students who… non-European background, so that English was not their first language. And this created a whole new set of problems for the public schools. At the same time this was happening, there have been budget cuts across the country, so that the public schools have had a greater complexity of the student body to deal with and less funding to deal with. So that’s been one change in inner city schools. On the private school front, the pressure of getting into college has gone up and up and up. And so you have a whole different set of problems there of private schools where they feel like their success is measured by the number of kids that they’re able to place in the top, top schools across the country. And this puts pressure on the teachers, it puts pressure on the students and it puts pressure on the curriculum and the impulse is to narrow the curriculum down into those things that are tested. I think, you know, testing has been also kind of an overall disaster, this leave no child behind, focusing the attention on single high state testing. Accountability sounds great, but once you ask the classroom teacher and what it’s doing, it’s squeezing the joy out of education.

Learn about: How schools have changed from Paul Cummins, PhD,...

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Paul Cummins, PhD

Educator & Author

Dr. Paul Cummins, President and CEO of Coalition for Engaged Education (CEE), received his bachelor of arts from Stanford University, his MAT from Harvard, and his doctorate from the University of Southern California.  In 1971, he co-founded Crossroads School in Santa Monica and built it into one of Los Angeles’s most successful educational institutions and a national model for innovative, independent schools. 

In 1995, Cummins stepped down as Headmaster of Crossroads and formed New Visions Foundation (now Coalition for Engaged Education) to offer opportunities for Engaged Education to all youth. The first venture was New Roads School, a diverse, K-12 independent school in Santa Monica that has a deep commitment to social justice. New Roads devotes 40% of its tuition budget to need-based student financial aid, guaranteeing access to students from a wide socioeconomic array. Cummins has since implemented a number of innovative programs to help children at risk.

Cummins has published four books on education, including Proceed With Passion: Engaging Students in Meaningful Education (2004), and Two Americas, Two Educations: Funding Quality Schools for all Students (2007), both published by Red Hen Press. His most recent book of essays, Why Poetry? Reflections on Poetry, Writing and Culture, was published in 2009 by Xlibris, in addition to two volumes of his poetry and two children's books published in recent years. He is currently finishing Confessions of a Headmaster: My Pursuit of Joy and Justice in Education (forthcoming from Red Hen Press).

Cummins and his wife Mary Ann reside in Santa Monica. They have four daughters and five grandchildren.

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