Probably nothing, if your name is Chris Spence and you are the Director of Education for the Toronto District School Board.
A shocking story in this morning's Star reveals that the highly-paid functionary plagiarized great gobs of an article he recently 'wrote' for the paper on the importance of extracurricular activities.
The Star, which has removed the offending article from its website, reveals the extent of the plagiarism:
Among the paragraphs in question are two that mirror those in a New York Times opinion piece from 1989: “We are challenged through sport to use our minds in guiding our bodies through the dimensions of time and space on the field of play. Learning the skills of sport provides opportunity to experience success.
“Sport builds self-esteem and encourages teamwork. We learn the importance of goal setting, hard work and the necessity of dealing with disappointment.”
When I was a teacher, discovering plagiarism gave me no pleasure, but it was something for which I exacted a substantial penalty: a zero with no possibility of a make-up assignment, despite students' pleas and justifications for their lapses.
Apparently, the TDSB is much more charitable than I ever was. The Director has explained his journalistic theft this way:
Spence said he used online resources for the article and felt rushed, “but it’s not an excuse, so please don’t take it that way. That’s what happened, and any rush or any pressure was all self-induced.”
The Board is currently negotiating an extension to Spence's contract, and Board Chair Chris Bolton responded to his Director's admission of guilt this way:
“I think Chris has been quite candid about the mistake and is very concerned that everyone understand that he sees this as an honest mistake, but something that needs to be corrected,” said Bolton.
“As in all learning situations, we see this as a learning experience and we support him totally in his bid to make it right.”
Given the myriad problems currently facing the TDSB, some might suggest that a stronger response is in order.