June 29, 2007


DC Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso was on the hot seat this week, as he appeared before the DC City Council considering his confirmation to the post.

As expected, council members were interested in how the mayor’s school reform plan was plagiarized from a Charlotte-Mecklenburg document. Interestingly, Reinoso took full responsibility, but refused to say whether he’s the one who actually did the cutting and pasting.

Plagiarism is a concept taught to DC’s 8th graders. According to the DC school district’s academic standards (note my preceding attribution to the source and the link to it, as well as the important quotation marks (“) used subsequently to indicate a direct citation from said source): “Understand the concept of plagiarism and how (or why) to avoid it; understand rules for paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting, as well as conventions for incorporating information from Internet-based sources in particular.” In DC schools and academia generally, plagiarism is a serious offense. Punishable even, perhaps, by expulsion. When perpetrated by city government officials, however, it gets you promoted to oversee the schools.

Also of interest, Reinoso recounted his experience as a volunteer in two of the District’s high schools teaching students how to apply for jobs and interview. Thus, the two highest ranking leaders in the DC public schools – Reinoso and Chancellor Michelle Rhee – are former city teachers. One can’t help but wonder if the school system they hope to improve would be in better shape today if they, and their similarly minded and able colleagues, had remained in the classroom to teach rather than leaving it for other opportunities before returning to lead it.