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Chris Spence, TDSB’s Director of Education, Admits to Plagiarizing Part of a Star Op-Ed

Toronto's top education official swiped passages from newspapers and blogs.

TDSB Education Director Chris Spence. Photo courtesy of {a href="http://www.facebook.com/toronto.dsb"}TDSB's Facebook page{/a}.

Chris Spence, whose job is to make sure that Toronto’s public school kids are learning, has provided them with a perfect object lesson in what not to do: this morning, the Toronto District School Board education director released a statement in which he admits to having plagiarized parts of an op-ed published under his name last week in the Star.

To his credit, Spence is really good at apologizing. In his statement, he admits to plagiarizing in “no less than five different instances,” and then throws himself at the public’s feet. “I apologize, unreservedly and categorically, to the Toronto Star and its editorial staff for the embarrassment I have caused them,” he writes. “I apologize with equal seriousness to all of the readers of that newspaper. I apologize, in particular, to my colleagues at TDSB, and to all those families and children we are privileged to serve. I have let them all down.”

He also resists making excuses. “There is no excuse for what I did,” he writes. “In the position I am honoured to occupy, in the wonderful job I do every single day, I of all people should have known that.”

The confounding part of all of this is that the op-ed in question—a little, 500-word dealie about the importance of athletics in schools, pegged to the recent labour disruptions at Ontario public schools—isn’t even all that research intensive. There’s almost nothing in there that Spence wouldn’t have known off the top of his head. A good chunk of the article is just him talking about his own experience in school sports, and how he used to play in the CFL.

In an article published this morning, the Star identifies some of the plagiarized passages, and they’re really nothing more than bland clichés that would have been easy enough to paraphrase. Like this sentence, which the Star has determined is from a New York Times article published in 1989: “Sport builds self-esteem and encourages teamwork. We learn the importance of goal setting, hard work and the necessity of dealing with disappointment.” Blech.

And so take note, TDSB kids: never plagiarize, but if you do plagiarize, at least steal lines that are good. The Star says other passages in the op-ed came from blogs and an online encyclopedia.

In his statement, Spence promises to enroll himself in a journalism ethics course at Ryerson. It should be very educational.

Comments

  • glenn storey

    dear soon to be ex mayor dingleberry : see, THIS is how you apologize.

    • Esra

      Margaret Wente, feel free to also take note.

    • Phantom2013

      the TDSB is in the worst shape it has ever been and this man runs it all. He should apologize. It is a board of corruption and thievery. Rob Ford did nothing compared to how the school board (and their teachers) are “raping” the public and the children.

      • Anonymous

        It’s like the Nazis, Hitler and the Whores of Babylon!

      • http://twitter.com/philosophergrrl Elizabeth Moes

        Excuse me, but teachers are forced to do what the board says. When it comes to “raping” the public and the children, teachers ARE PROTESTING!

      • Bhojan Marinkovic

        Vivian Mavrou, Gordy Stefulic, Mary Gowans and Varla Abrams surely know how to commit acts of statutory rape on their students.

  • Anonymous

    i bet the education course will be paid for by the TDSB. Awesome: Someone who doesn’t know how to negotiate with the union, and now his version of “truthiness” as an example for elementary students, and now going to get his education for a job he’s supposedly already qualified for. Winning. Leadership in Toronto and Canada at work.

  • barnie

    good orator, has done good work. reasonably well read. can’t write though. plagarized.

    ths is a bad example for students. no way around that.

    But don’t care that he’s not a good writer. Canada has great writer’s like attwood, joni mitchell. great journalists too. that’s not actually his job.

    he’s doesnt teach writing at the school board, he runs it. was he doing a good job?

    he’s better educated than rob ford. 9ford droped out – only dabbled in undisclosed courses. didnt graduate. spence was a way better footballer. get somene more

  • barnie

    get someone more suited overall. let’s remember what the job entails. he definately has good attributes so let’s not dump him for someone who is merely more skilled in literary arts

  • Dave

    A cheater is a cheater.

    I am gratified by his full apology, but it is not sufficient. His theft of the work of others was a premeditated act. He didn’t get carried away with the thrill of a game and inadvertently raise his stick too high. Students who plagiarize have been kicked out of school, made to repeat entire courses, or in almost all cases can’t get into the college or university program they might have been pursuing. Plagiarism is a huge deal – at least it is made that way for students.

    I think he has no right to stand before anyone and talk about the importance of a good work ethic. He has no authority to talk about how good citizens should behave. His actions are demoralizing and he has not restored his integrity by pretending he had any ignorance of his actions. A journalism course isn’t even a slap on the wrist. Any pretense that this is a punishment or a remedy is insulting

  • TDSB Observer

    Actions speak louder than words. Spence’s apology as far as we know has no true substance but his actions of plagiarism say volumes.

    Student are awarded a ZERO for plagiarism and such a mark could result in a grade that results in failure or not being admitted to post secondary education. In light of the punishment given to students, how equal is the punishment bestowed on Spence?

  • TDSB Observer

    Actions speak louder than words. Spence’s apology as far as we know has no true substance but his actions of plagiarism say volumes.

    Student are awarded a ZERO for plagiarism and such a mark could result in a grade that results in failure or not being admitted to post secondary education. In light of the punishment given to students, how equal is the punishment bestowed on Spence?

    A more equitable punishment: Demotion in pay for 1 year to that of a supervisor class within TDSB and have his business card read “known plagiarizer”

  • Lauren

    It is always sad when a leader falls from grace. Some do it with sex scandals, others do it with a variety of methods. The bottom line is that cheating, whether it be an affair, a card game, a test, a business deal, or plagiarism, shows a lack of character and demonstrates that the person is not entirely trustworthy. Often people in power feel they are above the rules that lesser people must adhere to. This is a great pity because in the case of Chris Spence, he was good at what he did. Between the issues with Mayor Rob Ford and now with Chris Spence, the mighty Toronto is starting to crumble. Wake up people!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maryam-Leder/1375992387 Maryam Leder

    Why Chris why? You did much that was good but unfortunately you will be remembered only for screwing up. Remember people do not get punished for their crimes but for getting caught. Lets get Putin from Russia in here to take over the TDSB

  • Bhojan Marinkovic

    The Toronto District School Board is in the process of promoting Martingrove Collegiate Vice Principal Ms.Vivian Mavrou to Principal admist her unethical conduct at Silverthorn Collegiate Institute with underaged students.