About That Guest Column Today in the Winston-Salem Journal – Concerning “Intellectual Dishonesty”

Nothing is ours but our language, our phrasing. If a man takes that from me (knowingly, purposely) he is a thief. If he takes it unconsciously–snaking it out of some old secluded corner of his memory, and mistaking it for a new birth instead of a mummy — he is no thief, and no man has a case against him.

Mark Twain,  Letter to Robert Burdette, circa April 19, 1890

I read with great interest the guest column in the October 22nd Winston-Salem Journal entitled “What McCrory has done for North Carolina.” You may read it here – http://www.journalnow.com/opinion/columnists/maurice-atwood-what-mccrory-has-done-for-north-carolina/article_78cb1927-7292-5b7d-b24d-af306a621fb5.html.

(NOTE: The article has been taken down from the WSJ site. A Copy can be found here – maurice-atwood_-what-mccrory-has-done-for-north-carolina-winston-salem-journal_-columnists).

And while it begins with a famous quote from Winston Churchill concerning “incontrovertible truth,” there were points argued by the guest columnist that could be flushed out more cleanly and would very much validate Mark Twain’s quote above. That will be left for another time.

Here is Winston Churchill’s full quote that the guest columnist starts his op-ed with and supposedly frames his argument around – truth.

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
But the purpose of this particular response is not to combat the article’s arguments in the guest column. It is to examine the meaning of truth and how it is supposedly delivered. If you read the article, I invite you to focus on the last paragraph because how the guest columnist ended the column really struck a nerve with me. It starts with “Let’s choose facts.”

Ironically, Winston Churchill was a journalist at one time. He even won the Nobel Prize for Literature later in his life. He was very keen on his choice and use of words.

It’s interesting how the guest columnist ends this concluding paragraph with “Suggesting anything other than these truths is being intellectually dishonest.” That’s a strong suggestion and supposes that anyone who would counteract the supposed truths in his op-ed would be “intellectually dishonest.” If that is the case, then I am an intellectually dishonest person because I can refute each of these points that are considered truth by the guest columnist.

Actually, I believe that makes me intellectually honest in my opinion. The person who is being “intellectually dishonest” is not me or anyone else who has challenged the governor or the GOP’s educational agenda, but the guest columnist himself.

Why? Because the guest column is largely plagiarized from another source. Actually more than half is lifted word for word from Rep. Craig Horn’s “Stop the Spin” posting from September 4th on his website, www.craighorn.com/?cat=3.

Here is a screen shot.

Craig Horn.png

And below is the text of the posting. You may compare it to the guest column in question and find a high rate of plagiarism, a sin that Winston Churchill would have abhorred and that is probably one of the greatest offenses in “intellectual dishonesty.”
Election season, or the Silly Season as it is known by many, is again upon us. It may be useless to bring some common sense into the picture, but let’s try.


In 2011, this state was nearly $3 billion overspent. Personal Income Taxes, Corporate Income Taxes and gasoline taxes were the highest in the Southeast and among the highest in the nation. North Carolina could not borrow money, our credit card was over the limit and we owed the Feds billions of dollars for money borrowed to sustain an under-performing system.


Over the last four years, Governor McCrory and the General Assembly have paid off those debts to the Feds, reduced personal and corporate income taxes to be among the lowest in the region, reduced and capped the gas tax AND added over a billion dollars to education funding in this state.
Before committing millions of dollars to teacher raises, Governor McCrory met with teachers and superintendents across this state who were clear that we must raise teacher salaries dramatically. And, they told us all that we must start with our newest teachers first or we will never be able to rebuild our base.


Over the last two years, North Carolina has implemented the largest teacher pay increase in the nation. We have also firmed up teachers’ benefit package which is now worth about $16,000 per year for every teacher in this state. Furthermore, contrary to what some teacher’s groups purport, NO benefits have been removed for new teachers, longevity pay was NOT taken away from veteran teachers, textbook funding has tripled during this administration and $97 million has been leveraged in federal and state funding to connect all schools to a robust Wi-Fi system by 2018.


In addition, graduation rates are at an all-time high and drop-out rates are at an all-time low. “Education Next” magazine now ranks North Carolina among the top K-12 schools in the nation for rigor and “Wallethub,” the online personal finance blog, has moved North Carolina into the top twenty in the nation for education quality and security.


There is more. We have stabilized the tuition costs for a 4- or 5-year degree by fixing tuition at all public universities so that students and parents can reliably plan ahead for these costs. And capping fee increases at no more than 3% a year. Our 58 Community Colleges are moving to an outcome-based education model and our Independent Colleges and Universities are helping to fill the void for the many needs-based scholarship students.


So what about the naysayers that just cannot stand for North Carolina to prosper and are desperate for bad news? Those folks keep saying, “It’s Not Enough!” Well, how much is enough? Consider that a teacher entering his 10th year of teaching has realized a 21% salary increase since Governor McCrory entered office; a teacher in his or her 19th year of teaching has seen a 15.5% increase.


Actually, we agree that we need to “Keep Pounding” and ensure that every teacher is prepared, supported and rewarded for their efforts and for improved student outcomes. And we need to complete the transition to the digital education environment. That prepares every student in our state for the demands of the twenty-first century job market. But, to ignore what has been accomplished thus far is dishonest and prevents real conversations about necessary school reform from taking place.


As our state continues to grow, we will need to attract more teachers to the classroom as well as retain and support our experienced teachers and principals. Their guidance and experience is critical to our future success. They too deserve more pay and they need to extend their hand of welcome and support to our newest educators.


Winston Churchill once said, “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” These words of Churchill stand in stark contrast to the words that are preached on the other side of the political divide regarding education in North Carolina. If people simply looked a bit deeper at what the naysayers espouse, it would be ver obvious that much has been accomplished in a short amount of time.


We can choose ignorance and thus succumb to believing lies, but we know where that leads us. The truth is incontrovertible. When we can work together in a spirit of respect and understanding, we can climb to amazing heights and make life better for everyone.
The choice, as well as the responsibility, lies within each one of us.


By:
D. Craig Horn
Representative, District 68
North Carolina General Assembly

Merriam-Webster’s online simple definition of plagiarism is “the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person : the act of plagiarizing something.

Sounds like “intellectual dishonesty” to me.

The Winston-Salem Journal probably has a circulation of print and electronic media nearing maybe 200,000 readers. To present another person’s work (and half-truths in my opinion) is the very definition of intellectual dishonesty. To do it openly and deliberately for that many readers is egregious.

In truth, Rep. Horn’s “Stop the Spin” posting is not intellectually sound. It’s simply just a piece of political propaganda.

And I will post an intellectually honest answer to it soon after this posting.