As a teacher, with a doctorate in education, a specialty in curriculum and instruction, an M.Ed. in Education, and a Ph.D. in psychology, I have long been concerned with the quality of education in our country. No one would argue that when it comes to education, we are no longer as competitive with countries such as Germany and Japan. However, what you may not know is that after World War II, the United States created the educational pedagogy for both countries.

So, you may ask: Why have both Germany and Japan surpassed the U.S. academically? In those two countries, they tend to group students homogeneously according to academic skill levels, as we once did. However, in the 1980s, the United States changed its educational model. In an effort to neutralize the differences and inequalities of minority and economically challenged students, we threw the baby out with the bath water and penalized the academically accelerated child. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and the critics of academic grouping felt that the process itself stigmatized and discriminated against gender, minorities, and poverty. It was believed that such grouping fostered inequality and bias.

Though we are all equal under the law, we are not equal in intelligence, emotional intelligence, or talents. Yet, we all have a gift distinctly and uniquely our own. One child should not be asked to sacrifice his academic opportunities for another. Students should go to school knowing they are getting the best education. A mainstreamed, self-contained curriculum cannot meet the needs of such a diverse group. The accelerated child often feels disenfranchised, bored and thus may misbehave. The average child may feel pressured to perform at a level beyond his/her capacity; and, the poor student may feel completely lost.

There is hope. There is a way to give each child what they require without stigmatizing, humiliating, or shaming anyone. Children don’t have to be identified as “gifted” or “talented.” Children are more than their labels.

When I was a girl, they had accelerated classes that you could work toward, that were fluid enough, for students to move in and out of as they progressed in school. If academically accelerated children are held back by more average or academically challenged children, they may become marginalized, discouraged, and lazy. This is a sure way to lose their edge and their gift. The average child, compared against the accelerated child, may feel inadequate, stressed, and pressured as he recognizes that he is not learning at the same rate of speed as his accelerated peer group. The academically challenged child is short-changed, adrift academically, and missing out on the opportunity to learn necessary life skills.

I believe that under a curriculum of national standards, which offers age appropriate national criteria in math, science, and reading, has the potential to educate our children in a way that once again meets them at their level, and gives them the best possible advantage for learning. It opens the door, once again, to allow children to be grouped by academic achievement in math, science and reading. Grouping according to academic performance, subject-by-subject, unifies the essential skills that children must accomplish in each grade. This approach has nothing to do with indoctrination or ideology, but rather, has the opportunity to stabilize curriculum, so that children have standardized subject matter for each grade. It also, codifies a teacher’s curriculum that can be established and measured, so that a teacher’s performance can be diagnosed. National standards are not only for students but teachers as well. Teacher’s should have masters in their subject matter and hired from the top 10% of their graduating college classes, so that they can help children of every ability reach their full potential. If teachers colleges were made to teach to a standard then all children would have an equal curriculum, rather than a different pedagogy state by state

If labels are taken away, such as “gifted” and “talented,” and replaced with a more appropriate standard such as “accelerated,” then all children would have a uniform opportunity to move into accelerated classes based on their own academic proficiency… or not. This gives more power to the child, who doesn’t feel “less than” or without gifts and talents.

This is what we have taken away from education: the idea that children have a choice, responsibility, and obligation for their own actions, and that rewards come from their performance, rather than some innate talent or gift. While there is no perfect solution, this idea of a standard curriculum offers a clear, challenging set of higher standards that are uniform across the board. This opening for accelerated learning giving all students the opportunity to rise up and compete with their counterparts… even in other countries.


  • 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.