The work of Willard Daggett is HUGE here in Iowa. Dr. Daggett heads the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE). His emphasis on ‘rigor, relevance, and relationships’ is so prevalent in the state that those three buzzwords come up in almost every conversation pertaining to school success and student achievement.
I’ve never had a chance to intersect personally with Dr. Daggett, although I did get to hear ICLE’s Senior Vice President, Dr. Ray McNulty, speak at the Vermont Principals Association Leadership Academy this summer (and he did a nice job). I confess that the center’s rigor/relevance framework has at least some intuitive appeal to me.
So I was surprised today when I ran across a scathing May 2008 blog post by Gerald Bracey that raised some pretty serious concerns about Daggett’s veracity (if you don’t know Dr. Bracey, he’s a longtime education scholar and a passionate defender of American schools). Back in 1995 he originally voiced his doubts about Daggett. Thirteen years later he is still concerned about Daggett’s accuracy and/or truthfulness. Here’s the video that accompanies Bracey’s post:
Here are additional links (some by Bracey) that raise concerns about Daggett:
- Oct 1999 – Investor’s Business Daily
- Oct 1999 – Ninth Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education
- Nov 1999 – John Locke Foundation
- Apr 2000 – The Tower, the South High student newspaper (reprint; Grosse Point, Michigan))
- Dec 2002 – The Times-Examiner (South Carolina)
- Aug 2006 – Sherman Dorn
- Sep 2007 – Greater Orange News Service (California)
- Jan 2008 – Rotten Apple Awards
- Apr 2008 – WCF Courier (Iowa)
Should Iowa be basing much of its school reform work on this guy?
I had never heard about any of this. After reading through all of these links, however, I can see why afterward it would be pretty difficult for educators to have much faith in Daggett’s work. Regardless of the underlying appeal of his messages, at what point do the multiple accusations about Daggett’s ongoing disregard for facts impact his credibility and worthiness as a consultant and/or speaker? I wonder if the Iowa Department of Education, state educational leadership associations, and school districts even know about all of this. If so, should they disregard his rigor/relevance framework and exhortations about teaching kids 21st century skills?