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Four-Year-Old Boy Is Suspended From Pre-School for Plagiarism

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SEPTEMBER 2, 2012 CHICAGO, IL -- The Wisdom Truth Fortitude (WTF) Academy is the nation's best elite pre-school. For an annual tuition of $57,000, three-year-old child prodigies can enroll in the WTF Academy if they can pass a highly competitive entrance examination. When the WTF students graduate two years later, most of them have acquired the cognitive maturity that is normally found in middle school students. WTF Academy proudly advertises that 87 percent of its graduates ultimately end up going to an Ivy League college, and over half of these are accepted into these colleges before they become teenagers. This past week WTF Academy made headlines when it suspended the four-year-old student Axel Foley for plagiarism.

Principal Edward Rooney made the decision after a plagiarism committee reviewed Axel's work during the preceding year. The committee found numerous examples of misconduct, including recycling parts of an essay he had written when he was three years old and fabricating quotes of fellow students when he covered a bake sale for the pre-school newspaper. However, the most blatant case of Axel's plagiarism was identified by his "Introduction to Postmodern Analysis" class teacher Ms. Derrida, who was grading a short story that Axel wrote. Ms. Derrida noticed that Axel used the phrase "You are made out of cardboard boxes, you must have a story to tell." Ms. Derrida knew that she had heard this phrase before, but could not remember where. "When I showed our standard anti-plagiarism video 'Plagiarism in the Elementary Classroom' to the incoming class of students, I finally realized what Axel had done", Ms. Derrida explained. Apparently, Axel used the last line of that video for his short story.

"Plagiarizing an anti-plagiarism video is one of the most egregious crimes that one can imagine," Mr. Rooney stated at a press conference. "This is why we decided to immediately suspend Axel from WTF."

Plagiarism has received a lot of press recently in light of the Jonah Lehrer controversy, the Harvard cheating ring and the fact that the German defense minister Guttenberg had to resign because large portions of his doctoral thesis were plagiarized. After Axel's suspension and these other scandals, elite pre-school all over the country are currently assembling plagiarism committees to review the work of the pre-schoolers. When we asked Axel for a comment, he responded with the words "If you copy from one author, it's plagiarism. If you copy from two, it's research."

An earlier version of this article appeared on the Fragments of Truth Blog.