In the year 2000, I was Arianna Huffington’s guest at the Shadow Convention that she organized in LA. I participated in a CNN discussion on the efficacy of teenagers and politics. It was at this time that I met Johnathan Kozol, the author of “Savage Inequalities.” I got to know Johnathan and later interviewed him on my radio show “Let’s Talk with Dr. Gail Gross.” What I learned was that as long as education is funded by real estate taxes, there will always be savage inequalities in schools across America. Lower real estate taxes, from impoverished neighborhoods, guarantee that students will have poorer buildings, less equipment, fewer microscopes, books and supplies. Even though we do have a compensatory amount of money that we guarantee these schools, it is a small drop in the bucket, relative to wealthier neighborhoods that have no limitations on advantages.
However, these economic inequalities are not the sole measure of our problems in education.
The problems we face can be answered through 6 easy steps:

  1. Standards for teachers
  2. Standards for students
  3. Standards for families
  4. A standardized approach to federal education
  5. A standardized curriculum
  6. A standardized certification test for teachers.

The keyword for academic inequality is standards.

Many years ago, Oprah Winfrey was quoted as saying that Mr. Winfrey, her father, raised her with strict standards, and we can all see how well that worked out. Instead of fearing the competition of charter schools, what public schools should be doing is taking an example from them. Wonderful schools such as KIPP Academy (now both a national and international model for charter schools), the 15 Tisch Schools across America, and the 10 IDEA Schools in the Rio Grand Valley, all demonstrate that a population of poor children, mostly on the federal lunch program, can get a wonderful education and go to wonderful universities including the Ivy leagues. In fact, our own university system is the best in the world because it is rated on a competitive scale.

We should be looking at what these schools are doing differently, because they are succeeding where public schools are failing. Many of the founders of these schools will tell you that they look for teachers from the top 10 percent of their graduating classes, to whom they give leadership training. Further, they have contracts with parents who commit to parental involvement in their child’s education… and if they break that contract, their child loses his or her seat at the table. Also, students have standards to which they must adhere, in order to remain enrolled.

What we lack in America is the national will to change, because to really remediate our education system, we must confront the unions. I have talked to many principals who would love to fire an ineffective teacher, but cannot because the teacher has tenure, and they are stuck with him/her until the teacher leaves or retires. The best that they can do is pass along that teacher to a different school. This is the real injustice in the inequality in education, keeping the status quo.

Finally, you have to know where you’ve been, to know where you’re going. Because education was not mentioned in the Constitution, we’ve had an unstable national approach. Every four to eight years, the Secretary of Education changes with the arrival of a new President, Party, and education philosophy. So in the Bush years, you had a conservative approach; in the Obama years, you have a liberal approach. But what we need is a standardized federal approach to education, a standardized curriculum, and a standardized certification test for teachers, so that teachers master the material they are expected to teach, and a Secretary of Education not subject to the whims of different philosophies and incoming parties.

The country of Finland is another great example of education that works. In the 1960s, the whole country had an economic reconstruction and threw the public schools into the mix. They determined that they would only hire teachers from the top 10% of their graduating classes, from the top eight universities in the country, and each teacher was required to have a master’s degree. This made a difference. Now Finland has one of the best educational systems today — not just in Europe, but in the world. And, if we look to Germany and Japan, we see countries whose educational structures were created by us after World War II, a lecture model, nothing sexy and provocative.

What is different in the educational outcome of these countries is their culture: each has a culture of parents who are invested and involved in their children’s educational performance. In Germany and Japan, if students do not do well academically during elementary and middle school years, they track out of college-bound courses and are moved to vocational courses. Thus, these parents recognize how important academic performance is and how it can impact the outcome of their children’s future. As a result, education in these countries is valued as the most important determinant in a child’s future.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.