When teachers plagiarize.
A legislator not giving credit where it is due.

I was reading some of the weekly legislative reports from various legislators when I came across one that just struck me as a little funny. Not funny ha ha, but funny as in strange. Strange because I had read it all somewhere before.

Senator Jim Hundstad had filed a report included in the January 18 edition of the Britton Journal (among other newspapers) with a first paragraph that didn't give me any reason to pause. But as I started reading it, it just seemed peculiar, in that I'd read it all somewhere before. And not the general ideas laid out in his article. I had read the content word for word.

This clipping above isn't quite the complete article. But it makes my point. specifically, take this passage in the article:

Well, literally a few days ago, I got an article from the Great Plains Public Policy Institute as part of thier daily update. It came into my e-mail box as follows:
Good Morning Taxpayer - The Tax and Spending (TAS) Report

The Great Plains Public Policy Institute is pleased to announce a new email program to assist and inform the taxpayers of South Dakota. This email will describe the day-to-day activities of the Joint Appropriations Committee of the South Dakota Legislature, which is responsible for the fiscal allocations of the entire State government.

The Good Morning Taxpayer - TAS Report will be emailed and contain a brief summary of each day's activities, expenditures, and increases and decreases in the budgets of various State Departments, slated for the FY 2007 Budget. We hope this information will provide you, the taxpayer, with an informative description of where and how much of your hard earned tax dollars will be spent by the 2006 South Dakota Legislature.

Specific facts and figures cited in the Good Morning Taxpayer - TAS Report have all been obtained through the official Legislative website, http://legis.state.sd.us and by attendance at the daily committee meetings.

(Now, pay attention to this part..... - pp)

DAY ONE

This morning the Joint Appropriations Committee began discussing the Department of Education budget. The committee was informed that the proposed budget for FY 2007 totaled $519 million, a $9.5million or 1.87% increase over the FY 2006 budget. The major increase, of course, was the 3% inflationary increase in state aid to education, which totaled $6.1 million.

However, the most exciting increase in the Education budget was the new $3.4 million Teacher's Compensation Assistance Program, which will be used for signing bonuses, salary enhancement, and performance pay. The clincher is that the school districts must also kick in their share. An even hotter issue is the Governor's laptop program, on which little information was provided.

In a spectacular display of intergovernmental cooperation, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Education collaborated in researching federal regulations regarding Medicaid funding that allows school districts to access funds for Medicaid-eligible students, thus providing schools with the opportunity to access more money.

The Bureau of Administration, which is responsible for the support services of state government agencies, informed the Committee that of the 280 newly purchased vehicles for the state fleet, 250 were E-85 capable, which will benefit the state ethanol industry. A major goal for the BOA in FY 2007 is the demolition and renovation of portions of the old DCI building, because that Department recently moved into its new $25 million state-of-the art facility.
I'll stop right there, because again it illustrates my point. It's the same article. Exactly the same article! And it continues on for another 7 paragraphs with more material apparently written by the GPPPI in one of their e-mail updates. Word for word.

If I didn't know better, I'd say all he did for his weekly legislative report is to copy a few of the GPPPI e-mail reports to his local newspapers, slap a paragraph on the beginning and on the end, and make it look like it's his own work.

It's like he erased the name off of someone else's homework and wrote his own.

A little story to place things in perspective - I had something like that happen to me once when I was in Junior High School. I had a person who would attempt to buffalo and bully me who sat in my vicinity in study hall. Back then, you generally didn't complain about such things, you just handled it yourself. And I chose to just ignore him, which usually worked.

One day during study hall, after completing some work at my table in the lunch room, I went to the rest room and returned. Shortly thereafter the bell rang for my English class.

First thing to do was to turn in your spelling homework, which I had completed during study hall. I looked, and it wasn't there. What was there in its place was a partially completed homework paper without a name (and with bad penmanship).

I didn't turn in that paper, which earned me a dirty look from the teacher wondering where my homework was. At that point in my life, I had pretty good grades, so this was unusual for me.

After class, I stayed behind for a few minutes, and approached the teacher. I explained that I had completed my homework, but it was now missing- apparently taken from my school materials. (Like she hadn't heard that one before). I showed her the paper that had been substituted in its place.

I noted that while I didn't want to accuse anyone, because I had no proof, I thought it might be worthwhile to examine the spelling paper of the person who would often try to bully me. She did, and miraculously enough, my name which was barely erased was quite visible on the paper that now had his name on it.

The teacher quite simply drew a line through his name, wrote mine on the paper I had actually completed, and placed his name on the one which had been substituted. The teacher said "I'll grade your paper, and ____ will get an F." (No privacy laws 25 years ago, eh). I never heard another thing about it, but I can guarantee you it never happened again.

So from my experiences, a teacher is someone who aside from teaching is supposed to lead a class. In some instances, it can be moral leadership. In my instance, my teacher righted a little wrong, and didn't let someone get away with stealing another's (my) work.

So here we are. If you look at the South Dakota Blue Book, you'll see that Hundstad lists among the things on his resume that he was a teacher from 1973 to 1981. This person who in his teaching career was supposed to prevent things like plagarism from happening all those years ago (without further evidence) appears to be committing the act himself.

At least on the surface, it sure looks like he's presenting someone else's work without identifying that the GPPPI is the author. It makes it look like it is his own, and that's not right.

Maybe I'm wrong and the Great Plains Public Policy Institute didn't write it. Maybe he did and he's providing the updates to them. If I'm wrong, somebody point it out, and I'll delete this posting and offer an apology for my error.

I couldn't find anything that indicated he is the GPPPI's Appropriations Committee correspondent on the GPPPI website, so one would assume he has nothing to do with them, excepting he appreciates their authorship.

So, as far as the SDWC is concerned, Senator Hundstad's legislative report this week gets a Failing grade. Not for content, but for not giving credit where credit is due. For presenting the work of another as his own. And Senator, if you're going to parrot GPPPI material for your weekly legislative reports, at least give them the appropriate citation.

You might at least get a "C" next time.

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