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Is it Okay for a Principal to plagairise?

By wazza_t 4 December 2014 33

I come from the old school way of thinking which is, if it isn’t your work and thoughts then don’t try and pass them off as if they were. I also think if you are the principal of a high school then you should set the example and not plagiarise to your students.

My daughter came in the other day laughing about how a Canberra school principal was recently caught by his students plagiarising his annual reports in the year book. She found it particularly amusing because her older sister briefly attended the school. We own a hardcopy of one of the yearbooks and could verify that the principal’s message was plagiarised.

Whereas my youngest daughter thought the whole thing was a joke my eldest who is a hardworking and dedicated student was very upset. “It’s wrong and really unfair,” she told me and said she felt as if she had been wasting her time researching, organising and writing when she could have just handed in “wiki-sandwiches”. A wiki sandwich is where a student writes the introduction and conclusion and copies the rest from a website like Wikipedia. This best describes the plagiarism in these reports. One of the three reports looks to be almost 90% copy and paste. I can tell my daughter has taken it to heart and become, for the first time in her life, jaded.

When I pack my kids off to school I tell them that the teacher is probably right and that rules are rules and they are there for everyone. I know most parents don’t scrutinize every page of our kid’s yearbooks and newsletters but some of our kids do and it’s a sad thing to think they would open it up and find out their parents are shmucks and their headmaster is unaccountable and doesn’t give a toss.

I urge parents to pull out their kid’s old yearbooks and read them, type some key phrases into Google and find out if the principal of your child’s school dabbles in deceit and duplicity. You can report it here or here. My view is that a school principal sets the example and should be modelling academic excellence and personal integrity to his or her school community. Plagiarism is central to these virtues and to be fair if schools can flunk students for plagiarising then perhaps we need to flunk and flush a few principals who do the same.

What’s Your opinion?


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33 Responses to
Is it Okay for a Principal to plagairise?
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Joanne1987 8:33 pm 14 Dec 14

So has this matter been referred to the Teacher Quality Institute by the Directorate? I think it should be. I saw these reports and they are just pathetic – he should be ashamed of himself. You know, what sort of role model or impression of the directorate does this set for not just the students and staff but also student teachers?

Midge_Ures_SixLegged_LoveChild 10:34 pm 12 Dec 14

Kelly74 said :

2604 said :

The issue is that this sets a bad example for students. As anyone with their own children will tell you, kids aren’t dumb and won’t follow a rule that adults set and then proceed to ignore themselves.

Also, what a lazy b#stard. The principal probably gets paid $120-130,000 per year for 40 weeks of work, and can’t be bothered typing up half a page of notes.

What is the appeal process? For instance if a student was accused of plagiarism and given an E on an assignment could they appeal on the grounds the principal does it too? Is it the principal who decides on an appeal?

I do not wish the man ill but I think he is no longer qualified for that position and this is why I asked if he was still a school principal. In the real world convicted criminals cannot be made magistrates. It was such a foolish thing to do and he continued the practice annually. If the students now know about the matter then his credibility is shot beyond repair. It is unfortunate, but one way or another – if he has not already gone – he should go.

wazza_t 5:18 pm 10 Dec 14

May I apologize if I was unclear and that I have not been around to answer questions. Almost all the content between the introductions and conclusions was most likely cut and paste from the internet from authors other than himself. The dates on the originals all precede the yearbooks. I also noticed that he appears to have fudged some statistics or may have thought if you add an extra zero to findings you can make an American study fit an Australian context. I think Kelly74 sums it up in less words than I did with the principal’s report should come from the principal and not the internet. I’ve also read the comments by those who defended him but in my view there isn’t any excuse for this behaviour. We all want our kids to be wary but not cynical. My girls aren’t naive in the way of the world but they do expect to find their teachers are credible. Sadly what is modelled here I think is a toxic level of cynicism.

crackerpants 11:46 am 10 Dec 14

Kelly74 said :

Sorry crackerpants, I don’t buy it. If the section is called the “principal’s report” then it should be from the the principal and not the internet.

No – read the OP again. He said that the principal’s report was plagiarised from previous yearbooks (that was how he checked – by looking at his older daughter’s yearbook – not the internet). Then he confused the issue by talking about wiki sandwiches. Then finished up by asking other parents to check current yearbooks with previous year’s yearbooks (not the internet).

If the principal was recycling his own work – fine. If he was recycling the work of a previous principal at the school – not so fine but probably ok. If he was copying from the internet – not ok and a lousy example to set, but no legal consequences. My point was that this would be a good lesson in understanding the shades of grey of the “real world” rather than often black-and-white view of academia.

MaidMarion 10:16 pm 09 Dec 14

deejay said :

How is this plagiarism?

My daughter came in the other day laughing about how a Canberra school principal was recently caught by his students plagiarising his annual reports in the year book.

If I’m reading this correctly, the source document was his (the principal’s) annual reports – ie, things he had written for another document and then re-used. It isn’t plagiarism to re-use your own work, except in settings where you have been specifically not to do so (eg essays).

he is saying he wrote a wiki sandwich. he wrote the introduction and the conclusion but copied the rest from the internet.

deejay 9:49 pm 09 Dec 14

How is this plagiarism?

My daughter came in the other day laughing about how a Canberra school principal was recently caught by his students plagiarising his annual reports in the year book.

If I’m reading this correctly, the source document was his (the principal’s) annual reports – ie, things he had written for another document and then re-used. It isn’t plagiarism to re-use your own work, except in settings where you have been specifically not to do so (eg essays).

turbotim 2:43 pm 09 Dec 14

Maya123 said :

turbotim said :

Looks to me like it’s a case of the clown running the circus.

Can you please explain your comment? With nothing more substantial said, it’s just a throwaway line without substance. I would be interested to learn your arguments in relationship to the comments above your line, such as Lenient’s comment, “A principal is an administrator not an academic.”

??? Clown – frizzy hair, big red nose, does stupid things. Circus – place where people do stupid and dangerous things. Administrator not an academic – probably got their quals at UC. ???

Kelly74 10:52 am 09 Dec 14

Sorry crackerpants, I don’t buy it. If the section is called the “principal’s report” then it should be from the the principal and not the internet.

crackerpants 9:45 am 09 Dec 14

To answer the OP’s question, yes I do think it’s ok. Not great, and not a great example to students, but ok.

To say that a Principal is an administrator, not an academic, isn’t a throwaway line. Administrators recycle material all the time – that’s efficient. If I’m in the public service responding to ministerials, for example, and I get 5 people asking the same question, I’m going to take the previous response, top and tail it, and I’m done. To write each response from scratch is re-inventing the wheel and a waste of time, pointless, and not really possible anyway – the role of the administrator in this instance is to answer the question, not to pen original thoughts. There is only one answer to the question, so it is answered once.

Academia (school included) is about original thought, or critical response to the thoughts of others. As others have mentioned, plagiarism is a problem because it defeats the very endeavour of original thought, as well as the practical problems of IP, undeserved credit, funding etc.

I think in this case, the author of the OP would be better explaining the difference to his daughter. It’s a really good example for discussing administration (or real life as a poster above said) versus academia, and how what the Principal did sits somewhere in the middle, with arguments for and against. The Prinicipal is an administrator, but because he is also a steward of academia, it might have been better to draft original material. Not because of any legal implications, but because he should lead by example.

Maya123 9:53 pm 08 Dec 14

turbotim said :

Looks to me like it’s a case of the clown running the circus.

Can you please explain your comment? With nothing more substantial said, it’s just a throwaway line without substance. I would be interested to learn your arguments in relationship to the comments above your line, such as Lenient’s comment, “A principal is an administrator not an academic.”

turbotim 7:56 pm 08 Dec 14

Looks to me like it’s a case of the clown running the circus.

Holierthanthou 5:53 pm 08 Dec 14

Maya123 said :

Lenient said :

A principal is an administrator not an academic.

Exactly.

+1

Plagarism is an issue for academia (unfairly getting credit for your academic awards or stealing research) and pubishing (theft of IP and misappropriating royalties). Reusing material for administrative purposes is fine. Canteen volunteers copy and paste price lists from term to term. Enrolment guides can be copied and updated. Teachers’ course notes can be shared and re-used. So too for warm and fuzzy plaudits for the yearbook., which incidently helps ensure hardworking individuals are not missed in the thank yous (which without doubt have already been personaly by the principal).

Kelly74 3:21 pm 08 Dec 14

2604 said :

The issue is that this sets a bad example for students. As anyone with their own children will tell you, kids aren’t dumb and won’t follow a rule that adults set and then proceed to ignore themselves.

Also, what a lazy b#stard. The principal probably gets paid $120-130,000 per year for 40 weeks of work, and can’t be bothered typing up half a page of notes.

What is the appeal process? For instance if a student was accused of plagiarism and given an E on an assignment could they appeal on the grounds the principal does it too? Is it the principal who decides on an appeal?

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