Mitch Daniels Plagiarized in His First Response to Zinn Emails

In response* to emails Associated Press’s Tom LoBianco posted** recently concerning the former Indiana governor’s attempts to ban Howard Zinn’s work from classrooms,  Mitch Daniels, now president of Purdue University, first lifted words from someone else’s writing and passed them off as his own.

Just as Daniels was given a $58,000 bonus to turn Purdue into a right-wing breeding ground, Josette Torres and Aaron Hoover, an English instructor at Ivy Tech Lafayette, first noticed Daniels used five words (“heavily filtered and weighted interpretation”) written by David Plotnikoff without mentioning Plotnikoff or putting Plotnikoff’s phrase into quotations.  Daniels also lifted the same quotation Plotnikoff used in his “Does Zinn’s Alternative History Teach Bad Lessons?”

Although Daniels deleted the stolen section 16 hours or so after Torres and Hoover’s discovery made its rounds around facebook, the former governor’s original statement can still be found here, with Aaron Hoover’s commentary.***  It reads:

Stanford history education expert Sam Wineburg cautioned that exposing children to a heavily filtered and weighted interpretation such as Zinn’s work is irresponsible when “we are talking about how we educate the young, those who do not yet get the interpretive game.”

Here is David Plotnikoff’s passage, which appears at a Stanford University website:

Wineburg writes that a heavily filtered and weighted interpretation becomes dangerous when “we are talking about how we educate the young, those who do not yet get the interpretive game.”

Either Daniels’ cronies stumbled upon the facebook outrage or someone pointed out the word-lifting to them.  Regardless, this is not Daniels and Purdue’s first plagiarism-rodeo together.

In 2011, I helped expose Gwen Adell, Daniels’ handpicked member of the Indiana state board of education, for plagiarizing her Ph.D. dissertation at Purdue.  Purdue and Daniels had taken their own sweet time investigating the allegations, even after Karen Francisco at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette printed, side by side, excerpts from Adell’s writing and one of the two dissertations Adell heavily looted.   After months, Adell finally and quietly disappeared.  Daniels, up to this point, had said advocates for her removal had pure political motives and cared more about politics than about academic honesty.

Honesty, either academic or otherwise, has not been one of Daniels’ qualities.

Daniels’ plagiarism-lapse and the Zinn story are both significant.  But what has been mostly overlooked in all of this is that Daniels, in the AP-released emails, was targeting Professor Chuck Little.  Little has publically opposed the corporate-theocratic school agenda that Jeb Bush, Amway, Walmart, Democratic and Republican hedge fund managers, and the Bradley Foundation have rammed through Indiana by buying out legislators, and the audit was an attempt to shut him up.

In his emails, Daniels suggests auditors dig into Chuck Little and his Indiana Urban Schools Association, an Indiana University/Purdue University, Indianapolis organization which represents poor and minority kids across the state. The Indiana Urban Schools Association was, in fact, audited by the state in 2005 and 2007.

As part of a witch hunt to stifle anyone out to stop school privatization, the audit also continued Daniels’ Bradley Foundation-inspired  attacks on the poor and minorities. As a former board member and recent recipient of the group’s $250,000 prize, Daniels is all too familiar with the Bradley Foundation-financed pseudo research, propaganda, and support for anti-affirmative action laws, school vouchers, workfare, and The Bell Curve.  Daniels has touted Bradley operative Charles Murray’s books for years, even once force-feeding them to his Bill Gates, Business Roundtable-supported Indiana Education Roundtable.

Stealing five words may not be a big deal in the scheme of things, but seeing it come from a university president’s office is rather disturbing.  Daniels is supposedly paid to bolster research and academic honesty, not to use the right-wing pseudo research tactics of Bradley Foundation operatives.


* Daniels, I say, because his name is attached to the statement released by Purdue.  More than likely, however, one of Daniels’ cronies wrote the statement.

** Daniels detests the idea of free speech.  At a press conference a few hours ago, he even called a halt to questions from Tom LoBianco.

*** In “What’s Going on Here,” Aaron Hoover discusses another trespass of research Daniels possibly commits.  This case involves mere laziness and deals with the condensing of material first dug up by Reason magazine.  This section still appears in Daniels’ edited statement on Zinn at the Purdue website.

For the latest updates, visit Society for an Open, Accountable Purdue.



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