Joan Cutuly

Official Bio
Email Joan

Prisoner of Second Grade

What’s missing from education reform in America?

This humorous and often poignant memoir of my experiences as a student, teacher, and advocate for more meaningful school reform will give you a personalized account of the forty years of shortsighted and ineffectual reforms that swept through the halls of American education from the National Defense Education Act of 1958 to the obsession with standardized testing that set the stage for the punitive and data-driven No Child Left Behind. Told from the point of view of a poet-teacher, the book suggests that by glorifying science and technology while systematically denigrating and eliminating the arts and humanities, we’ve snuffed out the creative spirit and humanity that must be revived if we’re to restore vitality and vision to our education system.

Learn More | Read an ExcerptBuy the Book


What A Bird, Two Cats, and Other Forces of Nature Taught Me
About How to Solve the Problems in Our Schools

After school officials drove me from the teaching profession, I set out to write a book to show what’s been missing from education reform in America. When everything I wrote turned to cliché, I gave up and left the city to hide out from my failure on the Oregon coast with nothing but my cats: cd, short for civil disobedience, and MITTS, short for MITTStical. When I fell head over sneakers in love with a wild man made of feathers and sea salt, I quickly found myself trapped in a dysfunctional relationship between this bird and my cats. When I tried using my award-winning skills to teach the primal enemies to get along, I not only made matters worse but hurt the ones I loved—until I learned that I was the student and that the bird, with the assistance of my cats, was the teacher I’d been waiting for all my life. The adventures that followed taught me what I needed to know to write the book I’d been trying to write about what’s missing from education reform in America.

Gull Irony

The Gullog (gul-log) noun. a collection of blogs

Asking Impertinent Questions About Education, Environment, and Empire


  • From gulag, a camp or system of political labor camps in the former Soviet Union;
    my fifty years in school;
  • a pushy seagull named Gulliver;
  • and mathematician, inventor, poet, historian, and documentarian Jacob Bronowski who said, “That is the essence of science: ask an impertinent question, and you are on the way to a pertinent answer.”

View the Blog

Purchase Prisoner of Second Grade

Online via PayPal

Available through PayPal for $20.00. Postage and transaction fees included.

Signed Copy from Joan

Please make checks or money orders payable to Joan Cutuly and mail to:

The Gulliver Initiative
P.O. Box 156
Netarts, OR 97143