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So here’s one for Scathing Online Schoolmarm to Scathe Through.

The occasion couldn’t be more banal: A recently appointed school superintendent plagiarized her dissertation, and the community wonders what to do about a flagrant academic cheater overseeing the academic progress and ethics of the community’s children.

A local newspaper

“examined and cross-checked the 164-page paper” after receiving a tip that the manuscript contained “questionable credits and attributions.”

So, point one: A 164 page doctoral dissertation? Even in the benighted field of education, this is pretty pathetic, given that around half (?) of that is going to turn out to be intro, notes, dedications, etc. Let’s assume actual writing takes up 85 – 90 pages. This is far from thesis length.

Even so, the author felt compelled to lard it up with stolen language.

 … 35 sections of the dissertation matched the phrasing from sources “word-for-word” and are misidentified or unidentified. The paper fails to properly quote from The Journal of School Nursing, The Journal of School Health, a U.S. Surgeon General’s Report and other sources, according to excerpts highlighted in the newspaper’s article. The story also featured a trio of interviews with professors with expertise in plagiarism — with two saying the exact matches of sentences indicate copying and the third saying they believed the dissertation should at least “be corrected if possible.”

This ain’t just plagiarism; it’s Potty Plagiarism, it’s Brown Spots on the Wall by Hoo Flong Dong, it’s lemme hurl words here and hurl words there and let my utterly indifferent and irresponsible dissertation committee figure it out. Cuz yeah responsibility here is shared by the tenured layabouts who didn’t bother reading this and just went ahead and passed it and therefore passed this woman along to her date with destiny in the form of a group of reporters who actually examined the thing.

The plagiarist refuses interview requests – who can blame her? – but does treat the school district she oversees for $226,000 a year to some of her actual prose by way of defending herself to them. Here goes, kiddies.

 I’d like to be as open and transparent as possible on a topic that reminds me being in public leadership requires perfection (and undue scrutiny and judgment), sometimes at the expense of the progress and grace that I often encourage our community to extend to self and others. I only hope that I can model what I expect of our community, display the capacity to adjust, and take the Michelle Obama approach … ‘When they go low, we go high.’

S’wonderful the way she opens by announcing she’s about to be as open and transparent as possible, and then immediately plunges into thickets of nothingness. Where is the word “plagiarism”? What the fuck is she talking about?

We’re not going after her semi-literacy here; she wouldn’t have woven her thesis of many colors if she were able to write. We’re going after her contemptible self-flattery (“My title, accolades, credentials, years of experience and degrees only matter on my resume.” Which is why I’m bleating about them here.) and victimization and plagiarism of the integrity of Michelle Obama in service of her own ass-covering. No one says her job requires perfection, and there’s nothing undue about scrutiny that reveals a person just hired to supervise the ethics of hundreds of schoolchildren has the scholarly ethics of an alleycat. “Grace” is fine, grace is excellent, grace is preparing us for: Whatever I’ve done Jesus forgives me. They go low – those hellish scum had the gall to uncover my plagiarism – but I will go high! I will point my finger to heaven where all is forgiven!

Margaret Soltan, January 12, 2023 12:52PM
Posted in: plagiarism, Scathing Online Schoolmarm

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