Friday, November 23, 2007

Plagiarizing principal praised [!?]

Phillipsburg, NJ High School principal Mary Jane Deutsch, who shamelessly plagiarized, has defenders, who bring up issues similar to the defenders of SIU President Glen Poshard. Lehighvalleylive has some posts defending her, which are reproduced here:

RICHARD MCQUADE, Lopatcong Township-->

Mary Jane Deutsch discovered words of importance relating to her topic that made an impression upon her. She disseminated those impressionable words to her students and their parents in a student body newsletter, targeting her audience.

How convenient for critics to seize an opportunity to attack her stellar reputation and character as an educator and administrator. Haven't we all, at one time or another, been impressed by words, phrases and/or ideas of others and, in turn, passed them on in conversation or in writing without crediting their source or even remembering who authored the source?

IPBiz notes that Deutsch apparently cut and pasted a lot of text. This deliberate act of copying is far distinct from talking or writing after the fact an approximation of someone else's words. Further, when one is cutting and pasting, the name of the author of the original text is staring directly at one's face.

SUSAN FLANAGAN, Lopatcong Township-->

As a mother and former employee I have had the experience working under Deutsch and now as a parent of a student who is a freshman.

I have yet to see an administrator who takes to heart a job as she does. She puts kids first and truly cares about the school, its children and parents. She works in a physical environment that is extremely challenging, given the size of the student body. She instills in students the values that many of their own parents appreciate (how to dress, act and respect each other). I believe she has apologized, has a full understanding of her mistake and takes full responsibility for it.

This reminds one of the defense of Poshard which brought up all the good things Poshard did for SIU. Further, Poshard at least promptly acknowledged there might have been a problem with what he did, whereas Deutsch initially denied there was a problem. In that sense, what Deutsch did was worse. If a principal does not know that copying without attribution is wrong, who does?

DAN AND NANCY ROTH, Phillipsburg-->

We have known Mary Jane Deutsch for the past 20 years in both a professional and personal capacity in her roles as teacher, administrator, coach and mentor. She has proven to be a person of tremendous quality and integrity. With regard to her recent article in "The Messenger," she wasn't looking to gain anything other than to relay valuable information to the students and their parents. We think it's a travesty to blast such an upstanding individual whose only concern has been and always will be the youth of this town.

IPBiz notes that, while Deutsch might advance a "fair use" defense to her copyright infringement, plagiarism concerns copying without attribution. Professors, who gain little monetarily by writing papers, still cannot pass off as their own the work of others. If we can't rely on people in the education business to give credit, who can we rely on? Recall, the Harvard Business Review counsels "plagiarize with pride."


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