plagiarism comic

Over the last two days, Republican candidate for Idaho Schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra has taken a beating in the media for allegedly copying sections of her campaign website from her opponent, Jana Jones.

Plagiarism is not an unheard of crime amongst politicians. It recently sank Democratic Sen. John Walsh’s campaign in Montana. But when we are talking about the person campaigning to lead Idaho’s schools and set the example for our kids, this type of dishonest behavior is particularly terrible. Will schoolchildren caught plagiarizing assignments in the future try to assert the “Ybarra defense” if she is put in charge of Idaho’s schools? It reminds me of the 1980’s PSA when the teenage son shouts “I learned it by watching you” in response to his father’s grilling about doing drugs.

In a study from Yale University entitled “No fair, copycat!“, researchers Olson and Shaw determine that children as young as 5 and 6 are able to recognize copied work, and that they disapprove of the copying. This is right about the age that children head off to school for the first time. I wonder what they would think of the example that Sherri Ybarra is setting?