The benefits of having a school council

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The benefits of having a school council

A Council is a specific name for a specific program that I think works. It's important for schools to do it, because it works. What is it? We have, in all of our schools, what is called, the five solids; English, History, Math, Science, Foreign Language. There are, what I think, are five other solids; Art, Physical Education, Environmental Education, Community Service, and Human Development. Let's talk about Human Development; which is, trying to education emotional intelligence, giving kids a place where they can talk about their life's issues. Most schools don't. At my old school, Crossroads, we put this thing called Council in years and years ago. It's a place where students meet one hour a week, in a circle. They have a talking piece that they pass around, so that they can only speak when you are holding the talking piece. The rules are, you are supposed to listen to other people with an open heart. You are supposed to speak honestly when it's your turn to speak. When it's your turn to speak, you are supposed to be brief. What this does is give kids a place to talk about their life's issues. There's no other place where they can do it. I could talk about it for two hours, but I urge parents and educators to look into it. It comes out of a place called the OHI Foundation.

Watch Video: The benefits of having a school council by 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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