When Bill Daggett was hired to speak to our district, I did my research. I looked at his websites, read about his participation in the model Common Core, and prowled the web.
And so I was ready to hear him, but I admit I was biased against him. First, the “mainstream” media alludes to controversies about Bill Dagget. Iowa’s Cedar Valley’s WCF Courier published a piece, “Controversial to the core: As Senate debates curriculum mandates, few know the enigmatic father of many of their key concepts,” which, while projecting Iowa’s then (2008) confidence they were on the right path, also raises questions about Daggett’s credibility, with Mark Draper, director Iowa High School Project, acknowledging “there may be inconsistent statements (Daggett) has made.”
Gerald Bracey, Fellow at the Education Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University, had also chimed in about Daggett’s false statements. Scott McLeod has collected Bracey’s posts in his own post at Dangerously Irrelevant, and there is a breakdown of questions on Bill Daggett’s character from 2000.
So there was ample fodder to question Bill Daggett, but let’s assume all of us get a bit carried away with simplifications and misstatements and cut Daggett some grace. Even then I would have walked into the presentation prepared to disagree. Here is why.
Previous to the presentation in our own PAC, I was required to listen to one of International Center for Educational Leadership speakers, Ray McNulty. In his presentation, he was advocating the need for education to think differently and to allocate resources accordingly. The example he shared was this:
When he was leaving a conference, an administrator asked him for advice. The administrator said that with the new budget realities, the school needed to cut a language, and which one out of Spanish, Latin, French, and German should they cut?
Ray McNulty stated that he should cut all of them and hire the Rosetta Stone, just like the military did. McNulty praised the decision and the future of technology, and told this administrator to follow the military’s example.
Let’s just think about false comparison. Are soldiers about to be deployed in life and death situations equivalent to high school boys more worried about Friday’s game? Is the motive of a serviceman about to be housed in a different culture with a different language the same as a sophomore girl just filling her schedule?
No. And the idea is absurd. Completely absurd.
And here is the real irony: this amazing development our military was smart enough to invest in, according to McNulty, the Rosetta Stone, has been discontinued by the military. (Now, I think the fall 2011 contract change date means that Ray McNulty should not have been using it as an example in 2012, but that is another matter.) It seems the military itself has “designated that all language learning needs will be done through the Defense Language Institute.” Hmm. Maybe because personal relationships and quality face-to-face education prove more effective even with those whose motivations may be high.