Dear Annie: I am still fuming over something that happened a month ago. I was contacted by my son's high school teacher, alleging that he plagiarized parts of his final term paper. Annie, I coached him through the writing process, making sure he followed through with his outline. It took an agonizing 15 hours over several days. I know he didn't plagiarize, because I was in the room the entire time and watched him come up with that sentence.
The teacher ran the paper through one of the commercially available online programs designed to catch plagiarism, and part of one sentence popped up. She insists he copied the sentence from some book published in the 1950s and expects him to cite his source. Aren't students allowed to have the same thoughts someone else has had before?