An Open Response to Arne Duncan’s Open Letter to America’s Teachers

Just in time for "Teacher Appreciation Week," Education Secretary Arne Duncan published an "Open Letter to America's Teachers."

After reading his letter, here's the response I posted in EdWeek's comments: 

The biggest problem in education -- all around -- and the one that is keeping teachers from doing the best they can is one that very few people are willing to address: the high percentage of teaching time that is lost due to disruptive, unruly, undisciplined students.

Classically, the "solution" is to insist that teachers have better classroom management skills, but that overlooks the other 1/2 of that equation: our students need to have the skills and character/emotional development that allows them to be "managed" in a classroom environment.

When teachers, all across the country, are losing between 25-50% or more of classroom time managing behavior -- not to mention other "related" problems such as bullying, teacher assaults, etc., it's no wonder they can't get the job done. Oh, and it also results in a $100 BILLION drain on the education budget nationwide, EVERY YEAR.

Recently, EducationWeek and others published the results of a study that showed broad-spectrum social skills education in the classroom resulted in an 11 percentile point gain in academic achievement, as well as other benefits like decreased discipline problems.  Yet, instead of focusing on this aspect of education, we scream that we need to better prepare our students by giving them more technology?  Heck, even the best technology will be useless if students aren't attentive, respectful, and willing to participate in learning.

For more on this, I encourage you to visit

Mr. Education Secretary, if you truly want to do something to transform our ailing education system, I welcome a 15-minute chat with you.  This is not only good for teachers, it's good for our children and it's critical for our future.

- Corinne Gregory

Now, I doubt he'll take me up on it, but frankly, I'm tired of the teacher-bashing. Yes, ok, there are some really lousy teachers out there who are really only interested in getting tenure, making it retirement, and getting out.  But, you can say the same thing for any other profession: bankers, government workers, scientists, web programmers...there's good and bad in all of them.  (more…)

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Education Ills: Connecting the dots

This morning's news is interesting: at the same time they are talking about the Obama's announcement of the big anti-bullying summit in September, hearings are underway that reveal up to 82% of our schools would be considered "Failing" under No Child Left Behind.

I'm sure virtually everyone thinks these things are completely unrelated.

But, the reality is that they are related because both issues stem from a common cause.

This is one of the things I point out in my presentations on education reform that I am frequently called to do.  In "Overcoming Failure to Educate," I show how there is one root cause for nearly every problem in education today.  The types of things we're talking about are classroom size, teacher recruitment and retention, the achievement gap, bullying and other anti-social behavior, and even academic achievement.

You might be thinking that this "common cause" is "money," and you'd be wrong. None of this has to do with money... (more…)

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Millions more for assessments.  To tell us…what?

I'm sure by now many of you have seen the news: the federal government has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to several states and coalitions as part of Race to the Top funding.  Where are these many millions of dollars going?  Oh, to better testing and assessments.

In a recent eSchoolNews article several states have gotten the funding to "provide new state assessment systems to test students’ 21st-century skills."


Ok, time for that irritating question I'm known for asking: "Uh, what problem are we trying to solve?" (more…)

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