Plagiarise! Plagiarise! Plagiarise!
Alonso Lujambio set something of a record in the Calderón cabinet, having lasted nearly three years in the job. He had replaced Josefina Vasquez Mota (PAN’s presidential candidate) who — despite being a Calderón loyalist — had not been willing to bend the department to the will of Esther Elba Gordilla. So, Vasquez Mota had to go, and Lujambio was brought in. As Education Secretary, he’s best remembered for overseeing a steep decline in the quality of Mexican education, and for claiming that telenovelas were educational material. Despite his lackluster (or worse) record, his resignation in March of this year was unexpected. Lujambio, who was only fifty years old, had an inoperable brain tumor.
As something of a consolation prize, or perhaps as a mark of this party’s appreciation of his career, he was awarded a plurinomial Senate seat (one chosen by the party) in this election, taking office on the first of September. Lujambio passed away earlier this week (25 September).
While the irony of Lujambio’s cabinet position, and his senate seat, being due to his ability to work with what is certainly Exhibit A when when speaks of corrupt union bosses… just as his party was ramming through radical changes in the labor laws, claiming they were curbing union corruption, his substitute will be another notable educational figure.
Named by PAN to replace the former Education Secretary in the Senate, María del Pilar OrtegaMartínez has made her own mark in the world of learning. With government funding provided by the Secretary of Energy, Ortega was taking graduate courses at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government… that is, until she was bounced out of the program for plagiarism: her thesis was written (under orders handed down by Calderón’s Energy Secretary, Georgina Kessel) by an Energy Department sub-secretary.
Aguachile, being an academic himself, is appalled:
Ortega Martínez was in 2008 revealed to have handed in a thesis for Harvard University, no less, that was simply lifted from the works of others, and to boot put together in final form by her own staff! Reportedly Dr. Kelly Gallagher of Harvard as a consequence sought to have her expelled from the university. I wonder what kind of interventions took place behind the scenes to protect the then-federal deputy.
It speaks to just how low the conservative PAN has sunk when it comes to the quality of their nominations for national office.
There is an up-side to all this. Besides the snark value, I don’t get to mention plagiarism and Harvard in this venue very often… which is an open invitation to sneak in the work of one of my favorite American satirists, Harvard mathematician Tom Leher on the values of plagiarism: