Teacher’s plagiarism accusation irks parent
Dear Annie: I was contacted by my son’s high school teacher, alleging he plagiarized parts of his final term paper. Annie, I coached him through the writing process, making sure he followed through with his outline. It took an agonizing 15 hours over several days. I know he didn’t plagiarize, because I was in the room the entire time and watched him come up with that sentence.
The teacher ran the paper through one of the commercially available online programs designed to catch plagiarism, and part of one sentence popped up. She insists he copied the sentence from some book published in the 1950s and expects him to cite his source. Aren’t students allowed to have the same thoughts someone else has had before?
My son is being called a liar and told to give credit to some writer he never heard of. I asked my older child whether she runs her papers through this program and changes them if anything gets flagged. She says she does. I don’t believe students should have to change their wording if they wrote it themselves.
I explained this to the teacher, but she still insists he cheated. I think teachers should stop relying on computer programs. I told my son he should be proud of his hard work, but he thinks it simply wasn’t worth the effort. And now the teacher doubts my integrity, as well.
Dear Parent: We agree that this is a sorry commentary on schooling, but you need to be practical. If teachers use these online programs to check for plagiarized phrases, it makes sense for students to double-check their papers the same way. Of course, two people could come up with the same sentence independently, but the teacher has no way of knowing this is the case. And a parent’s word is, sorry to say, insufficient. Your son can protect himself from future accusations by running his papers through a program similar to what the teacher uses.
Dear Annie: My husband and I are going to his best friend’s wedding in two weeks. I’ve picked a teal dress to wear, and he’s going with a black shirt and pants. We’re not sure what proper etiquette is on couples matching. Is it tacky or juvenile for his tie to match my dress?
Dear Curious: Some people think it’s cute if a tie matches the partner’s dress, but others would consider it a bit much. Since your husband is wearing a black shirt (with no jacket), we assume this is an informal wedding. If you want to match while being less obvious, a more muted compromise would be a patterned tie with some teal in it.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.