When you think about what Cambridge needs for its next superintendent of schools, what words come to mind? Leader? Role model? Visionary?

LetterHere is one word that is probably not on your list: plagiarist.

Cambridge is searching for a new superintendent this year. Every School Committee member should be willing to make answer a simple question: Will they pledge not to vote to give the job of superintendent to anyone who has committed plagiarism?

This should not be an issue, but one of the district’s top leaders (and, up until now, a possible internal candidate to be the next superintendent) was recently caught in multiple instances of copying portions of others’ people work without attribution.

Just like taking things without permission is immoral, regardless of whether or not you call it theft, the act of copying portions of others’ people work without attribution is immoral whether or not you call it plagiarism.

Some might say plagiarism can be forgiven. After all, to err is human. True. But I am not suggesting punishment. Instead, I just ask that our city choose a leader for its schools who does not operate under an ethical cloud. Let us be clear: This is a question of whether or not our School Committee members value our children highly enough to take the morality of their top educational leader seriously.


Avi Green lives on Banks Street. He is director of Civic Outreach and Development for the Scholars Strategy Network, a nationwide group of progressive-minded university-based scholars working to improve public policy and enhance democracy.