The reason for my interest in the Center and Daggett is that Cobb School Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa is planning to take 150 teachers, administrators and principals to Florida for a conference conducted by Daggett at a cost of $300,000 and $600,000. He says the money, however much it is, will not come from the operating budget but is “grant” money. Even so, it is taxpayer money and this proposed vacation, disguised as a conference, is using it frivolously.
CLAIM: This is grant money and can only be used for this purpose, as if to say “this or nothing.”
FACT: According to the state, the funds can be used for any number of different teacher enhancement programs. This usage is just ONE of many available
Additionally, regardless of the source of the funds, Hinojosa is not authorized to spend more than $200,000 without board approval. It appears that CCSD has already been committed to this conference, which is a clear violation of policy.
According to the district’s website, we have 9,760 educators, excluding Glover Street personnel, bus drivers, food service employees and maintenance personnel. Hinojosa is proposing to blow $300,000 on 150 of these people, at a minimum of $2,000 per person, and nothing on the remaining 9,610. Or, maybe he has a source for another $19 million so he can spend two grand apiece on the others.
How much actual instruction time will they be exposed to, as opposed to leisure time? Will they be required to attend full days of instruction, or can they opt to take in Disney World instead? Who are the 150? How were they selected and by whom? What cost containment policies have been promulgated? How many of the 150 have family accompanying them and at whose expense? Why are principals, in various schools, pressuring the PTSAs to pay for this trip?
If one can satisfy those concerns, we are still left with the question of the credibility of the conference, the organization conducting it and the head of the organization. The group calls itself an International Center, but, other than the unsubstantiated claim that Daggett has “collaborated with the education ministries of several other countries,” I find little in its structure to indicate any international involvement. Its primary goal is tearing down and restructuring the American educational system.
I also learned Daggett is more than a little controversial. The claim is he is “recognized worldwide for his proven ability.” No specifics were forthcoming. But, there are no quality control criteria for educational consultants. Thus, anyone can become one, simply be choosing to use the title.
Daggett seems lacking in documentable credentials and has been described as dealing in unreliable claims and manufactured facts. In 1999, during a high priced speech to Grosse Pointe, Mich., educators, his untrue claims were so numerous one observer was forced to list them, lest he forget them. Outspoken critics continue to challenge his message, methods and effectiveness.
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, Chester Finn, said, “I’ve heard and read several reports that lead me to have misgivings about what he delivers.” Of teachers, Daggett has this to say. “Teachers are elitists, “A Club with an Attitude problem.” His recommendation is to retrain them all to conform to his ideas.
In light of the questionable integrity and value of the Daggett’s program, plus the bitter pill of the budget deficit and the morale issue which will surely ensue, we need to abandon this proposed trip. The ball is in the school board’s court. It’s their job. Do it, and do it NOW!
Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor in east Cobb.