Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Trump plagiarism scandal offers new excuses for our students

It wasn't until today that I realized how much things have changed since I was a classroom teacher.

As I watched the coverage of how the speech delivered by prospective First Lady Melania Trump featured passages plagiarized from Michelle Obama's 2008 Democratic National Convention speech, I recalled an incident that took place during my early years in the classroom.

As my students were taking an essay test, my attention was drawn to two students in the back of the room. One was an African American girl who had been in my classroom the entire year. The other was a Caucasian boy who was new to the school system and wore more chains than you could find on a road gang in a 1930s prison move.

As I walked around the classroom, I passed their desks and noticed that the boy and the girl had the exact same answer on a question. I immediately took the boy aside so the rest of the class wouldn't hear and asked him if he had copied off the girl.

He said he did not, but I was not going to let it go that easily. "You cheated," I told him.

"You're racist," he said. "How do you know she wasn't the one who cheated?"

I grabbed his paper and read his answer, which began, "Growing up as a black girl in Joplin."

He quickly conceded that he had cheated.

 A couple of years after that, I ran into another student who initially refused to admit to plagiarism. During the spring semester each year, I had students do research papers on the American Civil Rights Movement. It only took a quick glance at one girl's paper to tell the entire work had been plagiarized. Normally, I would have given the girl the benefit of the doubt and conclusively proven she had plagiarized by locating the source.

This time, there was no need. I told her she would receive an "F" on her paper because she had plagiarized it. Before I could outline my evidence, she angrily said, "I did not cheat. I stayed up until two o'clock working on that paper."

"How much time did you spend on the part that reads 'See the photo on page 23.' " Once I had seen that reference, in a six-page paper that did not include any photographs, it was not much of a stretch of the imagination to assume that cheating had occurred.

Each year, I spent a considerable amount of time working with students so they would know how to properly acknowledge sources and make certain they were not taking credits for words that were written by someone else.

Those lessons become that much harder when our elected leaders and those who want to become our elected leaders try to redefine the meaning of the word plagiarism when they have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

Thankfully, most students do not spend their days glued to the television screen (or to their mobile devices) keeping up with the latest political news. But those who do received an education today on excuses they can use if they are caught using someone else's words as their own.

-It's not cheating if you only plagiarize seven percent of your work. According to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, it's all right, if you only plagiarize that amount..That means that 93 percent of the work is your own.  Ninety-three percent is still an "A" in most classes.

-Blame Hillary Clinton- Donald Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, denied that any plagiarism occurred in Melania Trump's speech and blamed Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. And if all else fails, just claim your real paper ended up on the wrong server.

-Blame the media- After all, plagiarism is not a problem unless someone notices it and brings it to our attention.

Donald Trump and the people who speak for his campaign remind me of those students who deny any wrongdoing when every bit of evidence points to their guilt. My students learned it was much easier to admit their wrongdoing, accept their punishment, and put it behind them

It is the same lesson that is taught by teachers across the United States.

Perhaps Donald Trump was absent that day.


Anonymous said...

Yes a mistake for sure but trifling when compared to the spouse of Hilary...Randy you are correct and it is shameful standards are not being maintained

Anonymous said...

Compared to the spouse of Hillary? You do mean Bill, don't you? Bill, "that spouse of Hillary", whose economic policies resulted in RECORD BUDGET SURPLUSES where before there were record budget deficits, "that spouse" who created 22 MILLION NEW JOBS, the most jobs ever created under a single administration, and more than were created in the previous 12 years. Of the total new jobs, 20.7 million, or 92 percent, are in the private sector. "That Spouse of Hillary" who, under his leadership, saw economic growth that averaged 4.0 percent per year, compared to average growth of 2.8 percent during the Reagan-Bush years. The economy grew for 116 consecutive months, the most in history - you do mean "that spouse", don't you? THAT SPOUSE, who, during his terms, saw unemployment drop to the lowest level in more than 30 years, down from 6.9 percent in 1993 to just 4.0 percent in November 2000, AND at the same time, ADDING OVER $6000 annually to the income of each American? Do you mean THAT SPOUSE? That Spouse that saw over 7 MILLION FEW American living in poverty than before? I could go on and on, these are simply a few of the accomplishments of THAT SPOUSE OF HILLARY. What a tool you are, half of these stats will fly right over your head because you don't understand them, while you nosh on the tit of Fox News and vote Republican and throw this country under the bus. The more and more I see out of Southern Missouri, the stupider ya'll look - THAT SPOUSE of HILLARY? THAT SPOUSE, indeed! We need more just like BILL.

Anonymous said...


Long Duc Dong - Chinese "Student" said...

It is a pity that the speech by Melania Trump was probably written by the same jew speech-writer that wrote the speech by the water-buffalo eight years ago. But with Randy Turner he only blames the white immigrunts, especially the cute and rich ones, and not the brown or yellow or black ones.

So I hope that you won't cumplain too much when some needy Chinese student "plagarises" or borrows without attribution some certain unclassifed [by Hillary] material "borrowed" from an e-mail server which was derived from Hillary & Bill's basement bathroom private server. Why, maybe you can borrow certain heterosexual situations in your next soft-corn porn novel featuring Angie & CJ for reading by the ten to twelve year olds. It is not as if you have a job to be fired from anymore.

It is interesting to see how liberals like you Randy, can get so huffy over what white Republicans do while giving some real treasonous thieving criminals like Bill and Hillary a free pass. But as Mark Twain said, your writings are both good and original, with the parts which are good are not original, and the parts you write which are original are not good.

Plagarism -- a mere pimple cumpared to what you liberals do and condone.

Anonymous said...

Hey why not, steal a chapter from the liberal playbook. All they do is blame Bush for all the problems they have created for the American people the last eight years.

Steve Holmes said...

Right on, 9:29 -- like conservatives are still blaming every social change they don't like on the 1960s!

Peace out, man.

Steve Holmes said...

Treasonous, yes, 9:06. Hillary should be up on war-crimes charges, along with Joe Biden, Dick Cheney, George W Bush and any other politician -- Democrat or Republican -- who voted to take the fight away from Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and go on the wild-goose chase in Iraq. Trump is right about something: It was idiocy -- and treason.

Anonymous said...

It's not Caucasian anymore, it's European American.

Thank you.