Sherri Ybarra, who becomes Idaho’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction next month, was caught plagiarizing from her opponent’s website during the campaign. (She says she was surprised to see the similar language, but “I take responsibility for final copy content.”)
Ybarra wasn’t forgiven by the student journalists at Borah High School in Boise. They reported the Ybarra campaign’s plagiarism using language that was lifted from Boise Weekly. (The editor’s note on the right ran next to the article.)
“We could apologize [for the plagiarism] and say that this is a mistake … but if our new state superintendent was able to get away with it, is it even worth it?”
Student editor Harmony Soto (below) tells the Idaho Statesman:
I have spent so much time in English class learning how to cite other people’s work, learning just how big of a deal it is. And then for someone like that to get elected, it seemed very sketchy. What does that say? What does that say about what standards we’re holding each other up to?
Boise Weekly’s George Prentice, whose article was “plagiarized” by Soto to make her point, tells Romenesko readers that “when the student and her mother called me [and asked for permission to plagiarize], I was rather taken aback at first. I was fascinated, intrigued and a bit worried all at once.”
He told them he wanted to talk to school officials before giving the okay.
“What I learned was that the project was a part of a bigger conversation in the school’s journalism class about plagiarism. I told [the adviser] that I was impressed by the student’s gumption and that they could ‘borrow’ my work with my permission.”
On December 4th, I heard back from the student telling me that her school had just published paper, including the controversial story. This is what she told me:
“Almost as soon as I walked into my second period class, I had a fellow student throw a copy of the paper opened up to the Opinion age and say, ‘You’ve got some serious guts to do this!’”
I’m very impressed that a high school student has this much insight and I love the fact that it opens up a greater dialogue on plagiarism, particularly among students.
* Boise student editor plagiarizes to make a point (idahostatesman.com)
* Student paper: Schools chief plagiarizes to win election (borahsenator.com)
* The student paper lifted from this piece to make a point (boiseweekly.com)
* Rival campaigns, identical language (idahoednews.com)