UNC Consultant Gets Big Bucks for Small Bang, Report Says

Education consultant Willard Daggett lies about his resume, gives false information, and charges an exorbitant amount for his speeches — triple what most education scholars charge — according to an Oct. 22 Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) report. School systems across the country, however, believe in Daggett’s message and gladly pay the $7,000 to $10,000 a day that it costs to hear him speak. Among them is the The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Last November, Daggett gave a $10,000 day-long series of talks to a school district in Gross Pointe, Michigan in which he claimed that the U.S. was the only nation that still taught chemistry and biology as separate courses. Research by one skeptical high school teacher who attended the conference found that no nations integrate the two subjects. In the same speech, he claimed to have been a university president and to be a trustee of two major universities. When pressed for names of the universities, Daggett said only that he had been a professor.

Hernando County schools in Florida paid Daggett $8,000 for a day-long speech in August 1998 and paid $10,000 to send 10 educators to Daggett’s Model Schools Conference, IBD claims. The money came from a federal School-to-Work grant. Maryland’s Baltimore County Schools used $6,000 in federal grant money in 1997 to hear Daggett speak.

Sam Houston, executive director for UNC’s Center for School Leadership Development, told Clarion Call that his center had used Daggett on two occasions in the last two years and had paid Daggett between $10,000 and $14,000. The Center for School Leadership Development is a conglomeration of North Carolina teacher academies. It includes the N.C. Center for the Prevention of School Violence, the Principals Executive Program, the Principals Fellows Program, the Math and Science Education Program, the N.C. Model Teachers Education Consortium, N.C. Teach, and the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCAT).

The IBD report characterized the relationship between Houston’s and Daggett’s firms as a partnership. Daggett’s firm moderates discussion within the Kenan Best Practices Center, the Center’s official web site. In turn, Daggett’s firm (the International Center for Leadership in Education) is prominently displayed on the Kenan web site.

“I’ve never heard [Daggett] say anything that is unjustifiable or invalid,” Houston told CC. “I don’t care how good you are. When you are making three or four-hour presentations, you are going to raise questions. Nobody has all the answers.”

For his part, Houston said he did not know whether UNC used public money to bring Daggett to campus. Thomas Houlihan, a former education advisor to Gov. Jim Hunt, is listed as a senior consultant to Daggett’s firm.

Houston denied that the Center had a partnership with Daggett’s firm. There is no contract with William Daggett. “If we use him, if anybody uses him, it’s on an individual contractual basis. I don’t control what the eight subgroups [of the Center] do. I don’t know one of them that has used him.” Houston dismissed Daggett’s detractors as people who “had a bone to pick.”

“I have more than one bone to pick with Willard Daggett,” education expert Gerald Bracey told CC. In his 5th annual Bracey Report, a critique of criticisms of public education, Bracey honored Daggett with the “Rotten Apple Award” for talking about a study that Bracey could not find. None of the top scholars that Bracey contacted knew about the study either. Daggett gives an Oscar-winning performance, but “he’s full of crap as a Christmas turkey,” Bracey said.