Plagiarizing was a ‘mistake’ – Toronto Education Director

“I am not a student anymore. I am an adult and an educator. I should know better. And I must set a clear example for the nearly 250,000 students at the TDSB… I put my fate in the board of trustees and I am open to discuss a process” – TDSB  Director Chris Spence.

In their story “TDSB Director Chris Spence apologizes for plagiarizing” appearing in the Toronto Sun yesterday, we are told that Mr. Spence, who is the Toronto District School Board’s Director of Education, says that he made a “terrible mistake” when plagiarizing material in an opinion piece he pitched to the Toronto Star which was subsequently published.

And the National Post reports today that Mayor Ford is calling for “major sanctions” as more allegations are being brought forward.

Simply apologizing for failing to give “proper credit” to sources doesn’t really cut it.  According to TDSB policy, a “zero” mark is mandatory if students are caught using other people’s material.  Teachers and principals are notified of such occurrences, and this presumably leads to corrective action.

Chris Spence, as the man responsible for the education of around a quarter of a million Toronto students, breaks this rule, and then asks for mercy claiming to have “made a mistake”?  I wonder how much currency the “I made a mistake” excuse would have for a student… not much, I would think.

In Spence’s case the appropriation of other people’s work is quite blatant – the National Post has several comparisons in their story today, which clearly demonstrate that the plagiarizing was both extensive and frequent.

There is no doubt in my mind that Spence intended to use the plagiarized material to increase his standing and respect as an educator, and that he was thus acting dishonestly while motivated by personal gain.

Spence’s grovelling admissions and self-denigration – after being caught out by a sharp-eyed Toronto Star reader – reeks of a desire to use the magical colour of his skin to try to escape the firing he so richly deserves.

He says that he is “open to discuss a process”?  Some nerve!  The only “process” he should be subjected to is instant dismissal.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Finance, Spence pulled down $271,980.00 in salary, plus an additional $19,069.27 in benefits in 2011, for a total of $291,049.27.

What a disgrace.

Jeff Goodall.

See the Toronto Sun article “TDSB Director Chris Spence apologizes for plagiarizing” here.

See the National Post article “Rob Ford calls for ‘major sanctions’ as plagiarism claims mount against school board director” here.

See the Toronto Star article “More plagiarism allegations against TDSB director of education Chris Spence” here.

See the Ontario Finance Ministry salary report here, item #3.

Read about Chris Spence’s “Africentric Schools” project here.