November 15, 2009

Is it wrong for schoolteachers to sell lesson plans?

It seems like a great idea to me, but some people are bitching. Why? Because teachers are making money selling the plans that they are paid to make and carry out in the classroom?
“To the extent that school district resources are used, then I think it’s fair to ask whether the district should share in the proceeds,” said Robert N. Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents.
You greedy bastard. You want to take money from teachers? Shut up. And pay them more too while you're at it.
Beyond the unresolved legal questions, there are philosophical ones. Joseph McDonald, a professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University, said the online selling cheapens what teachers do and undermines efforts to build sites where educators freely exchange ideas and lesson plans.
Imagine if I said because I'm freely giving away my writing — on a blog that invites others to write without compensation — writers elsewhere should not be making money. It would scarcely be worth the trouble to laugh at me.
“Teachers swapping ideas with one another, that’s a great thing,” he said. “But somebody asking 75 cents for a word puzzle reduces the power of the learning community and is ultimately destructive to the profession.”
If a teacher has written a puzzle capable of snagging 75¢ in the free market, get out of her way. Let her have her 75¢. Let her sell ten thousand and have $7,500. She deserves a $7,500 raise on top of that too, but she's not going to get it, because such is the market.
Teachers like Erica Bohrer, though, see the new demand for lessons as long-awaited recognition of their worth.

“Teaching can be a thankless job,” said Ms. Bohrer, 30, who has used the $650 she earned in the past year to add books to a reading nook in her first-grade classroom at Daniel Street Elementary School on Long Island and to help with mortgage payments. “I put my hard-earned time and effort into creating these things, and I just would like credit.”
Oh, Ms. Bohrer, you don't have to be so modest. You put work into making things, and you deserve  the "credit" the comes in the form of money, which you are entitled to use for anything you want. You earned it.
Kelly Gionti, a teacher at the High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice in Manhattan, has sold $2,544 worth of unit plans for “The Catcher in the Rye” and “The Great Gatsby,” among others, helping finance trips to Rome and Ireland, as well as class supplies.
As well as class supplies... That has to be there, doesn't it? It's your money, Ms. Gionti. Buy what you like. 

142 comments:

kentuckyliz said...

The IP rules at my educational institution = they own everything I create.

I don't even have access to my online courses I teach if they pull the plug on my user name and password.

So, I constantly copy and paste it into a mirror site, with a creative commons license, and whore it out to everybody. If you own it, then I'm whoring it out free everywhere.

"Wrong" has no meaning. What is the school district policy? You know they have one.

Synova said...

Virtue only lies in selflessness.

Filthy greed is the opposite of virtue and working hard and enriching yourself, including taking care of others who are your own, who you have an attachment to, is the opposite of virtue.

Of course it had to be mentioned that at least *some* of the money went back into the classroom. Of course it did.

(You realize this is straight out of Ayn Rand, right?)

Issob Morocco said...

It would be okay to unleash such capitalistic terror on our enemies like China, N. Korea or Iran.

class-factotum said...

Pay teachers more? Teachers do OK. They work 8 months a year and it's pretty hard to get fired. They are not at a customer site all day, then at a hotel working on their emails until midnight, then stuck in an airport at 10 p.m. instead of being at home.

If they want to sell their lesson plans, cool. Let them dabble in capitalism.

kentuckyliz said...

BTW I wouldn't buy a puzzle. There's software for that. Plug in the words you want in the word search, and clues if it's a crossword, and click the make puzzle button, poof.

kentuckyliz said...

K-12 teachers and counselors get to deduct expenses straight off their above-the-line income that I don't get to as a post-secondary teacher and counselor. Mine's on schedule A subject to the 2% floor and so it only saves me my marginal tax rate % of what I spent. What a rip-off.

K-12 teachers counselors and librarians and mental health counselors get student loan forgiveness, too, and post-secondary teachers counselors and librarians don't. I guess what we're doing is less worthy. Harumph.

I don't want to hear their bitching. They get paid more, have better tax treatment, more generous retirement, and loan forgiveness. I don't. They can suck my ..... gradebook.

peter hoh said...

Of course it had to be mentioned that at least *some* of the money went back into the classroom.

Most teachers use their own money to buy some classroom materials, so it makes sense to point this out.

If I'm paid to write a lesson plan or to create class materials such as handouts, then the school might be able to claim that it has some ownership of these materials.

While teachers are given prep time, in my experience, that was mostly used to grade papers.

miller said...

While I think the rules of IP mean that whatever I create while on the job belongs to the employer who pays me - I can probably find a case for developing it on my own and then 'renting' it to myself, perhaps even copyrighting it.

I have no problem with the teacher selling her wares. I think teachers are in general woefully underpaid - but then, I think teachers are given too many tasks that aren't really teaching-related but instead are chimerical dreams of policymakers.

I'd like to see less time in the teacher's day spent on non-teaching assignments; more time for teachers to plan and research during their so-called "teaching day" (and not at home nights and weekends and vacations), and raises for teachers to match their worth and education.

However, it seems to me that there are far too many teat-suckers in the educational system for this to work. There are too many people who are not really teaching but who think their pay should be tied to teacher salaries. I read in my local paper recently that the janitors complained that when teachers got their 2% raises that the janitors should get matching raises. Which is simply foolish. The janitors do not go to continuing education classes; they are not forced by the establishment to continually recertify themselves; they do not spend time out of work buying cleaning supplies; but because of this type of thinking, any attempt to give teachers realistic wage increases will cause an explosion of costs system-wide.

So, let the teachers sell their stuff. In fact, let them copyright their stuff so schools can't use it without permission and payment.

How interesting it would be if this country supported competition in schooling instead of the monopoly we have in state-funded schools.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Having taught high school science for a couple of years a generation ago... and having subbed in high school for several years in this decade ... I'm astounded by the broadly and profoundly lower levels of competency in today's students.

The kids are no less bright, on average, than they were in 1973, so the fault most obviously lies within the educational system.

Our local school district has a well paid "curriculum coordinator," but curriculum is set by the state. Nobody can figure out what the "curriculum coordinator" actually does.

Costs for schooling have soared in the last generation, but to what end? In language, science, and history today's 12th grader is about a 10th grader 30 years ago.

So in education the costs keep rising, yet results are completely flat, and the response is "We need to spend more!"

In medicine, costs have risen over the same period, but life expectancy and quality of life have made huge advances. And the response is "We have to spend less."

I don't give a rat's rump whether teachers sell their lesson plans. With depressingly few exceptions the entire system of government schooling is corrupt and incompetent from top to bottom.

Look at the test scores. Our 2nd graders are some of the best in the world. Our 12th graders barely make it into the top 40.

The longer kids spend in American school systems, the worse they get, in comparison to the rest of the world. Haitian 6th graders, who are sometimes educated under a big tree, will probably run circles around their American counterparts when it comes to the basics.

reader_iam said...

“To the extent that school district resources are used, then I think it’s fair to ask whether the district should share in the proceeds,” said Robert N. Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents.

Let's concede Lowry's point for a moment (which I don't, but for the sake of the following point, let's do): Given that the district's resources are provided by or at least paid for by taxpayers, is Lowry advocating that any proceeds, or at least a substantial portion of them, that the district manages to snag back from the teachers should be returned to the taxpayers in the form of rebates or, at least, lower taxes?

I'd bet way more than 75 cents he's doing no such thing.

Cynic that I am, I'd bet the thought hasn't even crossed his mind.

ricpic said...

Culture, Education and Human Development,
The Learning Community,
Law, Advocacy and Community Justice --
All sucking taxpayer titty.

Capt. Schmoe said...

That an administrator thinking a school district should receive the proceeds from the sale of lesson plans is absurd.

Every teacher I know (I know many) uses large amounts of personal resources to supply their classrooms, spend vast amounts of personal time grading papers, developing lesson plans and contacting parents.

I think they would really like to use "company time" to prepare lesson plans, but it is usually not possible.

Administrators rarely create anything other than redundant regulation, oppressive oversight and often contradictory policy - All of which usually stifles creativity

If a school district was really concerned about balancing the books, they would eliminate vast numbers of administrators.

Especially ones as brilliant as Mr. Lowry

Roux said...

Do they think that teachers only create plans during school time? I see absolutely no problem with selling the fruits of your labor.

campy said...

It's wrong for anyone to sell anything for a profit. Capitalism is evil, and must be stamped out.

To each according to her needs ...

careen said...

I'm alright with it, but corporations and workplaces notoriously are not. The classic example being Steve Wozniak having to get HP to sign off on his little computer. Even though he did it in his spare time, they still had the rights to it. Now that's wrong.

On a collegiate level, there is quite a racket going. The books cost much more than they would on the free market primarily due to a captive audience and price fixing at an unnaturally high level. If the books were cheaper, a bigger swath of the public would buy them, but then the AWFUL books wouldn't provide enough profit for their publishers/authors. The best and the most popular would shine through.

Dr. Alice said...

I have several teachers as my patients, and my experience is that they work pretty damned hard and spend vast amounts of personal (i.e. after hours) time preparing lesson plans and so forth. If someone comes up with an ingenious idea for teaching grammar, math or whatever, why shouldn't she/he be allowed to share it and make money on it? Makes perfect sense to me.

(WV: hoome as in they do a lot of work at hoome.)

bearbee said...

The individuals brain, creativity and initiative belong to the individual and not to the system.

bearing said...

If the school district has a clause in the contract that the teachers' IP creations related to teaching belong to the school, then the school gets it. If they don't, the teacher gets it. Simple. Right?

And I wouldn't be surprised if many school districts have no policy. They probably didn't realize lesson plans had any monetary value until the teachers figured out a way to recoup some.

rhhardin said...

The grasp of economics is not strong in education.

That's why they're lefties.

mariner said...

To me the real philosophical question is whether there should even be compulsory public education.

Do away with the whole corrupt steaming pile and let parents who value education provide it for their children.

br549 said...

I won't say where, but my sister teaches special ed, and has her entire 35+ year career. What she has been doing for many years is teaching kids of all stripes who are housebound and simply cannot be in a classroom. Their mothers or fathers are at home at the same time my sister is in said home teaching the individual kids. She is in someone's house, or driving to someone elses about 9 hours a day. She spends untold hours doing planning at night.

In her basement is the largest collection of teaching aids and toys I have ever seen - lining every wall. Every single one of them were bought and paid for out of her own pocket. She paid carpenters to come into her home to build the shelves these toys and aids are placed upon for easy access and inventory purposes. The toys and aids alone easily exceed her annual salary. There are some pretty dedicated teachers out there - any and all politics aside, mind you. My sister is one of them, even if she is a democrat.

They don't pay her what she is worth, believe me. If she could make a little money on the side doing something as described in the post, perhaps she could someday break even before she retires.

Chip Ahoy said...

Speaking of free puzzles you can get Cruciverb, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer crossword in Across Lite format here for free,but you must subscribe to NYT, of course. They're by the same constructors. You can also do Creators Syndicate and LA times online.

Wanna race?

The Boston Globe is by Harry Hook, a fiend of a constructor if ever there was one. It's very likely you can complete his puzzle entirely and still not understand the meaning behind his theme. If that happens, I'll be pleased to explain it.

Chip Ahoy said...

Where Harry = Henry.

Joe said...

Teachers are exempt from many of the traditional working rules that govern most of us--like that obscene tenure crap--and now they want even more exemptions? If I create any product that is directly related to the business of my company, they own the intellectual property for that. This isn't an evil thing--they are paying me a salary to work for them, not for themselves.

J said...

Best quote of the article:

"Joseph McDonald, a professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University, said the online selling cheapens what teachers do and undermines efforts to build sites where educators freely exchange ideas and lesson plans"

I'm not sure where the Times is going with this; Joe clearly doesn't seem to have any issue with the sort of "cheapening" that comes from selling one's work online: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-P.-McDonald/e/B001JRX67W/ref=sr_tc_2_0

Skyler said...

Ann, I don't know what this says about your theory of compensation, but I think you needed a better math teacher. It's $750, not $7,500.

Skyler said...

Said tongue in cheek, of course.

edutcher said...

Could it be the district is miffed because homeschooling parents might put something like this to excellent use? The more homeschooled kids (who consistently do better in test, competitions, etc., than the troops from government schools), the less necessary the district officials look.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Having taught high school science for a couple of years a generation ago... and having subbed in high school for several years in this decade ... I'm astounded by the broadly and profoundly lower levels of competency in today's students.

William Ayers, stand up and take a bow.

Dogwood said...

What Bearing said at 1:49 re: IP rights.

As to the "on their own time" argument, teachers are salaried employees, which means they put in the time at school or home to get the job done.

I've had several salaried positions in my life and none of them were 9 to 5, 40-hours per week affairs. Working evenings and weekends at the office or at home was routine, so I have little sympathy on this point and don't believe it strengthens the teachers' position in the debate.

Joe M. said...

Incentives for teachers to teach better, and not funded by taxpayer dollars...How on earth could this be a bad thing?

John Lynch said...

I have very little sympathy for teachers, since they are performing a blue collar job and want all the perks of a professor. Teachers tend to complain more about their jobs than members of any other occupation. Then they have three months of vacation, generous pensions, and so on. The whole point of the public school system is to educate children, not to pay teachers.

Truth is, it does not take a college education to teach elementary school. The end product of the education system, 18 year olds, are not any more educated now than they were before we started compensating teachers like white collar workers. Private school teachers tend to make less money and yet their pupils tend to be better educated. Hmm.

That being said, if teachers want to make money by inventing a way to better teach children, let them. Duh. School districts should be happy that teachers are working hard to improve the curriculum. Discouraging them from doing this is shortsighted and stupid, and shows a mentality focused on the system rather than what the system is supposed to do.

The whole point of schools is to teach children. If something helps, it should be encouraged. If it doesn't, stop doing it.

campy said...

Chip Ahoy, what are your terms for this race challenge?

I placed 50th in the ACPT one year.

Joe M. said...

"Wrong" has no meaning.

You are wrong.

Pastafarian said...

I'm with Joe on this one.

If they created these things on company time, then the company owns it. Teachers are salaried employees, rather than hourly; so it's hard to tell whether they created these things on the clock or one their own time; but that doesn't matter.

The school pays this employee to produce lesson plans and puzzles; so any lesson plans and puzzles that they create during that employment belongs to the school. The teacher (employee) doesn't get paid twice for this effort.

That's how it is in the real world: If you're an engineer and you're paid to design valves, and you go home and design a valve, the company that pays you owns that design. You'll still have the right to be listed as an inventor on any patent that the company decides to apply for, but they own it -- they paid for it.

It seems as though Althouse is criticizing the school for its anticapitalist attitude, but I see the opposite here -- you don't want to consider this situation as the equivalent of designing valves, because it's education, and you don't really think that it should be subject to the same harsh capitalistic rules as valve manufacturing.

Do you think that a mechanical engineer should be able to go out and sell valve designs the highest bidder, when they're already employed by a manufacturer to design valves?

The school should consider other schools to be its competitor. If schools operated more like manufacturers, and had to compete with one another for customers, and were able to fire useless employees, then we manufacturers wouldn't have such a hard time finding competent engineers.

Selling these plans to other schools is just like an engineer selling his design to competing valve manufacturers.

Pastafarian said...

I should say -- I'm with Joe, at 1:59, not Joe M.

Balfegor said...

How interesting it would be if this country supported competition in schooling instead of the monopoly we have in state-funded schools.

I don't have a problem with state funding of schools -- it seems like a more legitimate use of taxpayer money than most of the social spending governments engage in. It's the fact that they're state-run that's problematic. This has worked out more or less fine for universities (UC Berkeley, for example), but it's failed miserably for pre-college education.

John Lynch said...

Pastafarian-

The trouble with treating teacher's output like other salaried employees' is that schools are not businesses (which you said), and teachers that don't make good lesson plans aren't punished anymore than the good ones are rewarded (ditto).

There isn't a profit motive directly related to output. The end product is education, and it's not being paid for by the children receiving it, but by the government.

In this setting, we shouldn't compare other salaried workers to teachers because it's apples and oranges. Anything that improves the end product, educated children, should be encouraged.

Pastafarian said...

Miller, if they should be able to copyright their lesson plans, then the school shouldn't be paying them to make lesson plans and puzzles.

So make them teach 8 hours per day, 250 days per year.

They're paid well to teach 5 hours per day (typically they'll have a "planning period"), for perhaps 180 days per year, because it's assumed that they need more time for planning and for developing educational material. If they're to own this material, then stop paying them to develop it.

Joe M. said...

The whole point of the public school system is to educate children, not to pay teachers.

Yep. And it's failing. Miserably.

And to all yall who seem indignant at how "easy" school-teachers have it: that's not the point! The point isn't whether they have it "easy" or not, but whether or not they're succeeding in educating our youth.

All this talk likening school districts to companies is misleading precisely because school districts are not like companies, nor should they be. They do not exist to maximize profits, but to provide the best education possible for the minimum amount of taxpayer money:

The whole point of schools is to teach children. If something helps, it should be encouraged. If it doesn't, stop doing it.

If you want to argue that some system of sharing revenue with the school district would be more efficacious for improving education, go for it. I might even agree. But to grumble that teachers "should" because that's the way it works in the business world is an unsound argument.

Christopher said...

I'm sorry, under what standard are teachers "blue collar workers"? They don't work for hourly pay, they don't do manual labor, and they don't wear uniforms (the actual origin of the phrase "blue collar".) They are compensated like white collar workers because they are white collar workers.

John Lynch said...

Yeah, I don't care if the school system is public or private or run by martians. What matters is how well it educates the most children to an acceptable level with the best value in resources.

If we can educate more children to the same level by paying teachers less, we should do it.

If that can be only be done by paying teachers more, do it. If that's not increasing the quality of the final product (it's not), then find a better way to spend the money.

We tend to support paying teachers more for two reasons. The first is that they deserve it for how important their work is. Well, a lot of work is important. How important it is, compared to how much people want to do it, is reflected in wages. If lots of people want to do it, then wages will be lower even if the work is important.

The second reason given for increased pay for teachers is that paying teachers more improves the quality of education. Well, sometimes, but not lately. If you ruthlessly look at the end product, what kids know at age 18, it hasn't tracked compensation of teachers very well.

Debate about education should be focused on the children receiving it. Teachers are part of that, but it's not all about them.

Dogwood said...

All this talk likening school districts to companies is misleading precisely because school districts are not like companies, nor should they be.

Schools pay teachers to create and execute lesson plans that will hopefully produce an educated student, therefore, the lesson plans belong to the school.

He who pays, owns, unless otherwise stipulated in a contract.

Joe M. said...

The school should consider other schools to be its competitor. If schools operated more like manufacturers, and had to compete with one another for customers, and were able to fire useless employees, then we manufacturers wouldn't have such a hard time finding competent engineers.

But schools are not in competition. If a weak teacher uses a lesson plan put together by a very good teacher the next school over, so much the better! The weak teacher is better able to educate his classes, and the very good teacher (and her school) loses nothing by it.

You object that they're getting paid twice for the same work. So what? If it encourages them to teach better, nobody loses. Think about it like this: every dollar the teacher makes selling lesson plans is a dollar's incentive to do well that didn't have to come from the taxpayers.

In fact, the teacher's salary is no incentive at all to teach well, as has been mentioned. Because of the (crazy) way our school system works (impossible to fire a poor teacher, &c), there's no real incentive for a teacher to teach well--so a system like this is a good thing inasmuch as it encourages that.

Pastafarian said...

John Lynch: I don't see that allowing teachers to profit twice from lesson planning necessarily improves the quality of education.

It just means that they'll spend more time coming up with marketable lesson plans and puzzles. Teachers want to be treated like engineers in their pay and benefits, but not in their working hours or accountability.

Fine; allow them to keep the rights to this intellectual property, if they'll sign an agreement that cuts their pay by 50% (since they typically work about 50% of the hours per year that most white-collar professionals work, unless you assume that they're spending 900 hours per year working outside the classroom).

Or would that somehow hurt the quality of education?

If they want to keep the fruits of their non-classroom labor, then they shouldn't get paid for it by the school.

And don't bother with the argument that lower salaries will only attract worse teachers. You couldn't get any worse than the average public school teacher. This profession attracts the dregs because they know it's the one place where they'll never be held accountable for their incompetence.

Of course, there are rare exceptions, great teachers that are called to this profession and who give great time and effort to it. But we make no distinction between these, and teachers who pay $0.75 for a crossword puzzle to keep their charges busy for a half-hour.

John Lynch said...

Pastafarian-

OK, it's an assumption that teachers will improve education if they are allowed to sell lesson plans. You are correct to point out that they might neglect other aspects of their job in pursuit of more money, and that might not help the final result of educated children. I guess that's a judgment call.

For the rest, I agree with you.

John Lynch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe M. said...

Schools pay teachers to create and execute lesson plans that will hopefully produce an educated student, therefore, the lesson plans belong to the school.

He who pays, owns, unless otherwise stipulated in a contract.


But what I'm trying to say is that you're applying a principle from the business world to education, and the principle simply doesn't apply. Your argument is that such-and-such should be the case in education because it's the case in business. But education has different ends than business, so its set of "shoulds" is different. If you want to say that school districts should have some ownership of lesson plans crafted by teachers, you'll have to justify within the context of education.

My judgment that school districts should not have a share in profits is derived from my judgment that such an arrangement would be less efficacious in meeting the ends of public education than an arrangement in which the individual teacher is allowed to sell lesson plans. Now this may well be a flawed judgment, but it rests on a principle that is (I think) sound.

I will happily change my mind if you can show either that my assessment of the facts is incorrect (i.e., that it would be more efficacious to the ends of education to give school districts a cut) or that my principle is incorrect (i.e., that there are "shoulds" involved here that I have failed to account for).

Kirk Parker said...

bearing,

"If the school district has a clause in the contract that the teachers' IP creations related to teaching belong to the school, then the school gets it. If they don't, the teacher gets it. Simple. Right?"

Actually, it's even simpler than that, since in virtually every school the teachers are direct employees, not independent contractors. In that case, the rule is: "The employer owns the work product".

That's right, they don't have to have any specific policy since the default favors them anyway.

Pastafarian said...

Joe M and John Lynch, you make a valid point, that allowing teachers to profit from selling their lesson plans might create a benefit for good teachers that bad teachers wouldn't also share.

But the same could be said for engineers. If I'm a good engineer, I could sell my designs to other engineers and make more money. I don't see why teachers should be excluded from the same rules that the rest of the world follows. It's this sort of thing that's given us the awful system that we have now.

If they want to keep the fruits from their work done outside of the classroom, then they shouldn't be paid by the schools (that is, by the taxpayers, by me) for this work.

And to be honest, I'm not sure that having a good lesson plan or a clever crossword puzzle is really going to be an improvement when you have a bad teacher. The lesson plan is like a great recipe in the hands of a bad cook. The puzzle will just be used as make-work to keep students busy so that the teacher can read their romance novel or tweet or whatever the hell they do rather than teaching.

Ann Althouse said...

Skyler said... "Ann, I don't know what this says about your theory of compensation, but I think you needed a better math teacher. It's $750, not $7,500."

You need to recheck. Either your reading or your math.

Pastafarian said...

Joe M said: "My judgment that school districts should not have a share in profits is derived from my judgment that such an arrangement would be less efficacious in meeting the ends of public education than an arrangement in which the individual teacher is allowed to sell lesson plans."

That's a good point. I'm going to have to think about this.

John Lynch said: "We tend to support paying teachers more for two reasons..."

Actually you left off the biggest reason: That they belong to either the NEA or the AFT.

Pastafarian said...

Christopher said: "I'm sorry, under what standard are teachers "blue collar workers"?"

Again, because they belong to either the NEA or the AFT. How many doctors, lawyers, and engineers are unionized?

Ann Althouse said...

If the teachers have it in the contracts that their lesson plans belong to the state or if the law provides that the state owns the lesson plans, then it's different. If the teachers are paid to produce classroom teaching, not written plans. Teaching may requires the preparation of written plans, but the school got the teaching it bought. The plans were simply used in the process, but the lasting value of the plans should belong to the teacher. What if an art teacher demonstrating how to paint made a painting? Would the school own the painting? Let the school explicitly ban the sale of teaching materials if it wants, but I don't think it should.

Joe M. said...

But the same could be said for engineers. If I'm a good engineer, I could sell my designs to other engineers and make more money. I don't see why teachers should be excluded from the same rules that the rest of the world follows. It's this sort of thing that's given us the awful system that we have now.

The "rules the rest of the world follows" are constructed for a different environment. If an engineer sells his design around, he's working directly contrary to the purpose for which he is paid--to make profit for his company over its competitors. If a teacher sells lesson plans around, he isn't in any way harming the mission of his own school. There is no loser in this exchange. Everybody wins. So I don't see much use in holding public schools up to the standards of business-world rules, when those rules don't seem to help the schools teach any better.

You're right, of course, that this is only a small thing and that the real problem is endemic to the system: (1) no accountability; (2) no reward. But I'm just happy for anything that might improve the state of things!

Balfegor said...

RE: Pastafarian:

And to be honest, I'm not sure that having a good lesson plan or a clever crossword puzzle is really going to be an improvement when you have a bad teacher.

Maybe. But there's loads of people out there who sing the praises of Direct Instruction, which is essentially a highly scripted lesson plan that can be implemented by any teacher, good or bad. A crossword puzzle probably would not matter, but a solid, well-scripted lesson plan might help compensate for teacher incompetence.

Joe M. said...

the teachers are paid to produce classroom teaching, not written plans. Teaching may requires the preparation of written plans, but the school got the teaching it bought. The plans were simply used in the process, but the lasting value of the plans should belong to the teacher. What if an art teacher demonstrating how to paint made a painting? Would the school own the painting? Let the school explicitly ban the sale of teaching materials if it wants, but I don't think it should.

Yes! I was thinking just this thing. If a school district doesn't object to a teacher using a lesson plan created by another, then they must not be paying for lesson plans, but for teaching. Instead of your art-teacher example I was thinking of an english teacher who writes a book about, say, The Lord of the Flies, but the principle is the same.

Thank you for articulating that much better than I would have managed.

Dogwood said...

If you want to say that school districts should have some ownership of lesson plans crafted by teachers, you'll have to justify within the context of education.

I did justify within the context of education.

The teachers are being paid by the school corporation to create and execute lesson plans for the purpose of educating students within that school corporation, so those lesson plans belong to the school.

Businesses produce products or services, schools produce (or try to produce) educated students.

The products are different, but the IP rights are the same: he who pays, owns.

kentuckyliz said...

Whenever someone wants to pay teachers more, they are underpaid, etc etc, I ask them how they feel about their property taxes. Would they like their property taxes doubled or tripled to support high teacher pay?

They can always do this voluntarily--go down to the PVA's office and request an increased assessment of their property's value.

Of course they look at me like I'm crazy. Nobody wants to pay higher taxes!

Calls to mind the health care debate--Cadillac plans for everybody, for free!

I think we need to perfect our unicorn fart harvesting methods first.....

OK let's talk economics.

Why do teachers freely share their creative work?

Will they continue to do so when they realize a marketplace has been made and they can sell it?

Then...won't their own costs go up as everyone sells their work instead of freely sharing it?

If they don't have the money to spare to buy content to save themselves some time, then they have to create everything from scratch.

Then they burn out faster and leave the field...as most teachers do, within five years.

The more our society resembles Idiocracy, the faster the teachers will leave the field. They were the good students, and it's a shock when they realize being a teacher also means teaching those idiot slackers too.

kentuckyliz said...

Camacho for Education Secretary!

WV preducks
duck eggs

OK that's a prolifer joke....

kentuckyliz said...

I commed:

"Wrong" has no meaning.

To which Joe M replied:

You are wrong.

When it comes to this issue, I am correct. It is not a moral issue. It's an employment issue. What do the district policies say?

WV wirus
pondering the reasons why one became ill

Pastafarian said...

Althouse said: "If the teachers have it in the contracts that their lesson plans belong to the state or if the law provides that the state owns the lesson plans, then it's different."

Well, I'm not a lawyer, but this seems ass-backward to me. As an employer, do I need to make my design engineer sign some sort of agreement to prevent him from selling designs to other manufacturers? Seriously, let me know if I do.

I would think that the default position is that the employer owns that intellectual property created by the employee, in the absence of a contract stipulating otherwise; not the other way around.

Althouse said: "If the teachers are paid to produce classroom teaching, not written plans."

Actually, as I understand it, schools require new teachers to submit lesson plans for the first year or so; and it's assumed that teachers continue to produce lesson plans whether they're submitted and checked or not thereafter.

And teachers are in fact provided with "planning periods" during which they're expected to produce lesson plans. And the teachers are paid as if they work 2000 hours per year, when they're only in the classroom 900 hours per year; those remaining 1100 hours are expected to be put in, producing plans and teaching materials.

So a better analogy would be this: Suppose a design engineer is paid to produce a design of a valve, and in so doing, he must first produce 3d models of preliminary designs; design studies; pressure calculations and so on. Are the 3d models and studies the property of the designer? Of course not.

Althouse said: "Let the school explicitly ban the sale of teaching materials if it wants..."

Which seems to validate my point, that they have the legal authority to do so, as would any employer.

Althouse said: "...but I don't think it should."

Which is a very different and better point. I'm still thinking about Joe M's argument for this point.

bearing said...

There's also the question of when the work was created. Was it created during the work hours provided for lesson planning by the school district? Or was it created at home on an evening or a weekend?

I generally think school districts waste a lot of money. Politically
I have little sympathy for the national teacher's unions. I homeschool, myself.

But I also was raised by a mother who worked as a kindergarten teacher. And I'll tell you when she wrote her lesson plans. She wrote them at home on Sunday afternoons and evenings. Every week.

IMO, Ann's right. The district pays teachers to teach and usually requires teachers to turn in a written lesson plan, that is, to document the lesson they intend to teach. There is no requirement, as far as I know, that those lesson plans be original in any way, shape, or form. The *documentation* is required. And some time is supposed to be allotted for the teachers to produce this documentation. That allotted time may be enough to produce the record, or to organize information in a minimal way. It may not be enough for a teacher to generate truly creative work... for example, to read through several different books in order to choose the best one to use for a class, or to come up with discussion questions. If the school district paid for the time to create that, that's one thing. If they didn't, that's another.

My husband is an engineer, and his company doesn't have the right to patent what he builds in our garage. If he chooses to use his garage-tinkering experience and knowledge at work, that doesn't mean the company takes ownership of the garage contents, or the IP thereof.

Skyler said...

Okay, either you added a "ten" or I missed it the first time.

I'd bet it was me missing it. I should stop writing comments while I'm trying to take a nap.

Pastafarian said...

Joe M said: "If a school district doesn't object to a teacher using a lesson plan created by another, then they must not be paying for lesson plans, but for teaching."

So I guess, as a manufacturer, I'm paying my engineer for a design of a valve, not for the act of designing; so it's OK for him to purchase that design from someone else.

And from my perspective, yes, that's fine. I wouldn't fault the engineer who purchases a design from someone else -- but I'd fault the designer who sold a design, since it's not his to sell. I'm not faulting the teachers who buy these plans; I'm faulting the teachers who sell them, because they don't own them. The school, and ultimately the taxpayers (if it's a public school) do.

Joe M said: "Instead of your art-teacher example I was thinking of an english teacher who writes a book about, say, The Lord of the Flies, but the principle is the same."

Both analogies are flawed. The school is not in the business of publishing books or of producing paintings; and neither is a necessary step in the school's product. Lesson plans are a necessary step in the school's product. So are educational materials.

What is the legal basis for stating that teachers get to skate on these laws that apply to other employees?

To say that the schools SHOULDN'T go after the money from these sales is one thing, and might be valid; but to say that they CAN'T? Why not? Where is the law that states that teachers are exempt from the same laws on intellectual property that the rest of us have to follow?

Shanna said...

I'm not sure what the harm is in teachers selling lesson plans, as long as they are not selling them to the state (presuming they work for the state). They have no motivation to sell them if the money is going to go to the district and not to them, so what exactly is their purpose in griping about it?

Joe said...

My husband is an engineer, and his company doesn't have the right to patent what he builds in our garage. If he chooses to use his garage-tinkering experience and knowledge at work, that doesn't mean the company takes ownership of the garage contents, or the IP thereof.

If your husband is tinkering on things that fall within in job description (i.e things his company does), his business DOES own the IP. Not only is this set by STATE law (in every state as far as I know), but by his employment contract and by trade secret laws on both the state and federal level.

Pastafarian said...

bearing, if your husband works for John Deere, and he designs a new lawn tractor in your garage, and then sells it to Honda, or manufactures it himself...He'll be in some deep, deep shit. It does not matter whether he designed it on his time or on company time.

Now, if your husband works for John Deere, and he designs a hovercraft, then he's OK.

As you stated, teachers are required by their employer to produce lesson plans. If they choose to purchase them instead of actually producing them, this might be OK from the perspective of their employer, the school. It's the seller who's in trouble, if the seller was being paid to produce lesson plans when they produced them.

It doesn't matter if the primary thing that the school is paying that teacher for is teaching -- lesson plans are part of the process, just as preliminary designs of lawn tractors that your husband creates still belong to John Deere, even if they're not the final design.

Pastafarian said...

Shanna, the harm is to the taxpayer. The taxpayer has paid that teacher already to produce that lesson plan (if we assume it's a public school), and the school owns it. It doesn't belong to the teacher, so they shouldn't be able to sell it.

traditionalguy said...

What a silly bunch of rulers we have become. When nobody can make and keep money from their own work, then everyone is a slave of the collective and settling for arguing for the top Commisar's job holding the hose that re-distributes the confiscated wealth. It's evidence that they are all fools stuck in a tar baby of a labor dispute.

Pastafarian said...

But I'd have no problem if the school were to offer teachers the opportunity to own their lesson plans. The teachers should then have to stipulate that they're no longer paid to produce lesson plans, and merely to teach.

But they should only be paid, then, for the hours that they spend teaching. It's assumed that teaching is a full-time job, because classroom time is only a small part of the time that goes into the job. Planning and the creation of teaching aids is done outside the teaching hours.

If the fruits of labor done during these other hours is to be owned by the employee and not the employer, then the employee shouldn't be paid for these hours. So the teacher that wants to own this material should take a substantial paycut.

Skyler said...

"Well, I'm not a lawyer, but this seems ass-backward to me. As an employer, do I need to make my design engineer sign some sort of agreement to prevent him from selling designs to other manufacturers? Seriously, let me know if I do."

Yes, you do. As an engineer, I have the right to anything I invent unless I have a contract with my employer that anything I invent I assign to them. Absent that assignment, my invention is mine.

Almost every employment contract you sign will have that assignment. But if it's not there, then anything you invent is your own and the company that employs you would have to pay for the rights to use the invention if you patent it.

This is a big deal in many vendor contracts too, especially in software. When I hire a company to provide a machine to perform some function in my factory, I have to be sure to specify in the contract that any software used to run the machine wil become my property so that I can copy it, alter it, etc. Sometimes this is not agreed to, sometimes it is, depending on the vendor and the nature of the product.

When I worked at Dell I contracted with a company to build a torque driver specifically to eliminate the sharp stop when the right torque was reached. It was damaging to the hard drives. I might have asked for this design to be Dell's property, but the company wisely would have refused. They made a ton of these for us and then went to every other computer manufacturer and sold a ton to them too. Dell wouldn't want to be in the torque driver manufacturing business, they just wanted torque drivers.

But when I would build a new manufacturing facility, I would hire a vendor to provide the industrial controls and software to run the factory. I would be very careful to specify in our contract that Dell would own the logic/software and any variation of it. That way when I expanded I could copy portions of the logic (pallet release, traffic flow, etc) onto a new part of the line freely and not need to buy from them. Or I could change it for more efficiency as I saw fit at a later date.

So, yeah, if the teachers have no clause in their employment contract or union agreement that their work belongs to the school, then it should belong to the person that created it.

Skyler said...

Joe wrote:

If your husband is tinkering on things that fall within in job description (i.e things his company does), his business DOES own the IP. Not only is this set by STATE law (in every state as far as I know), but by his employment contract and by trade secret laws on both the state and federal level.

I'd like a cite for the state law you're referring to. I've never heard of such a law. I don't think that the patent office knows of such a law.

wv: turabl as in that would be a turabl law

Pastafarian said...

traditionalguy said: "When nobody can make and keep money from their own work, then everyone is a slave of the collective..."

I'm sorry, but I don't see anything communistic in stipulating that employers own the product of their employees.

This is clear-cut and easily defined in the case of physical labor: If an hourly worker machines valves for 8 hours, then all those valves he made belong to the employer; and if he chooses to go home and cob out a valve on the lathe in his garage, the employee then owns that valve.

But if an engineer is paid a salary to design valves, and he goes home and designs some valves in his spare time, then the employer owns that intellectual property.

I'm surprised that this isn't more widely known, or that it's not accepted. It seems obvious to me that if this weren't the case, then companies would be undercut continuously by employees who used knowledge of materials, techniques, market demand, etc., all gleaned at work while paid by the company, to design alternative products.

And I don't see what makes teachers so special that they should be exempt from these rules that the rest of us follow.

I guess that makes me a commie somehow.

Kirk Parker said...

"If the teachers have it in the contracts that their lesson plans belong to the state or if the law provides that the state owns the lesson plans, then it's different"

No, Althouse: teachers are employees, in virtually every case, and so work-for-hire (where the employer ends up owning their work product) is the default.

Or is it actually different by statute in some places?

wv: phogy
"The wise commenter will be careful not to come across as an old phogy."

miller said...

The company does not own my time when I am not on the clock. I'm employed by a large behemoth & what I do directly as part of my job belongs to them. What I do when I'm at home off the clock does not. I'm pretty sure, for example, that the stuff I create on my own that doesn't fit in with a job spec doesn't belong to them.

I don't see how a teacher can be tasked with creating puzzles. She does it on her own, copyrights it, and then uses it. She owns it, not the school.

Pastafarian said...

Skyler, I think that you're confusing patent rights with ownership, and you're confusing contractors with employees.

If an employee produces a design for a product that is within our product line, then we own it. They still have to be listed as an inventor, if we, the owner, decide to patent it.

Here's a link (sorry, I'm URL ignorant):

http://www.core77.com/hack2work/2009/09/why_does_my_firm_own_everythin.asp

Here's an excerpt:

"Who owns those works generated by employees? Joshua Prince-Ramus, President of REX, put it simply: "all employees produce works for hire." The Copyright Act of 1976 states that copyright ownership "vests initially in the author or authors of the work." As a general rule, the author is the party who actually creates the work, the person who translates the idea into a fixed, tangible expression. The Act, however, carves out an important exception, for "works made for hire." If the work is for hire, "the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author and owns the copyright." (The seminal case in this conversation is the Supreme Court case, Community for Non-Violence v. Reid (1989).)"

bearing said...

But they should only be paid, then, for the hours that they spend teaching. It's assumed that teaching is a full-time job, because classroom time is only a small part of the time that goes into the job. Planning and the creation of teaching aids is done outside the teaching hours.

How many hours a week do you think they are paid to work, if "classroom time is only a small part of the time that goes into the job?"

They are unionized. They have contracts. I suspect the contract stipulates the hours they are "on the clock."

Balfegor said...

And I don't see what makes teachers so special that they should be exempt from these rules that the rest of us follow.

I don't disagree that lesson plans fall within the work-for-hire doctrine (although freely sharing or exchanging them is just as bad if we're going to be strict in our application of the work-for-hire doctrine). But I think we view them as different from other employees because (1) they're government employees, not employees of a commercial enterprise, and (2) they're in the education business.

miller said...

If you want to argue that everything the teacher does 24x7 belongs to the school, then I'd argue the teacher could ask for us to cover his/her car insurance & other expenses because he/she is always driving for his/her job.

The teacher is off the clock, and doing what he/she wants.

Balfegor said...

Re: Miller:

I'm pretty sure, for example, that the stuff I create on my own that doesn't fit in with a job spec doesn't belong to them.

I think this is the distinction. There are situations where the company could argue that your independent creations fall within the scope of employment, but the fact that you're talking about something that doesn't fit in the job spec is what would give you an argument that your work doesn't fall within the work-for-hire doctrine. Like if our valve engineer made a landscape painting in his free time -- the company wouldn't have a right to copyright over the landscape painting.

Pastafarian said...

bearing said: "How many hours a week do you think they are paid to work, if "classroom time is only a small part of the time that goes into the job?"

They are unionized. They have contracts. I suspect the contract stipulates the hours they are "on the clock.""

They're salaried, so they're paid to get the job done, no matter what hours it requires. (Of course, very few teachers actually do "get the job done" if the job is to adequately prepare students, but that's another topic).

However, I'd imagine that the general assumption is that teaching is a full-time job; that they spend the summer months writing lesson plans and preparing materials for the coming year; and that they spend the non-classroom hours (including the "planning period") making lesson plans and grading papers.

So I'd suppose that teachers claim, and administrators assume, that teachers put in 2000 hours per year, even though they only spend about 900 hours per year in the classroom.

If the teacher gets to keep the product of labor done during some of these 1100 non-classroom hours, then the school shouldn't pay them for those hours.

Pastafarian said...

Balfegor said: "But I think we view them as different from other employees because (1) they're government employees, not employees of a commercial enterprise, and (2) they're in the education business."

You're right. Since they're government employees, these IP rules should be MORE STRICTLY applied, since they're stealing from the public when they sell something that they don't own, rather than merely stealing from a private commercial enterprise.

The fact that their employer produces education, rather than valves...why does this matter? I think that taking education out of the free enterprise system has led us to the sorry state of American education.

Jesus, just look at my writing, for example. A 1950s seventh grader could write rings around me.

Cheryl said...

Oh, come on people! I am a teacher. I am not paid to write the types of lesson plans that people sell online. Those are lesson plans, written outside of the curriculum, that are over and above what I am expected to teach in my class.

I have never tried to sell lesson plans. But, if I spend hours OUTSIDE of school (which is when these over-and-above lesson plans are written) to write plans, then choose to use those plans to benefit my own students as well as to sell them, then those plans should absolutely NOT belong to the school district.

Let's put it this way: You work in a factory putting steering wheels in cars. You notice something that could make a fabulous new steering wheel, so in your time off, you invent it and patent the idea. The idea will benefit your employer, so you take it there first and sell it to them at a lower price than you later sell it to everyone else. Have you done wrong?

Good grief people, how can you call a teacher who earns a few extra dollars for something he or she wrote ON HIS OR HER OWN greedy and selfish?

miller said...

Cheryl,

Thanks for your service and your common-sense posting.

I am not one for government-monopoly schools, but I also think teachers are vastly underrated and underpaid. And I find it ridiculous to consider teachers as house slaves for the man.

If you do something on your own time & you can profit by it, more power to you.

Balfegor said...

The fact that their employer produces education, rather than valves...why does this matter? I think that taking education out of the free enterprise system has led us to the sorry state of American education.

Didn't you just answer your question there? People don't think of educational work product as something subject to IP constraints in the same way as they would view commercial work product -- that's a reason the people in the original article are apparently A-OK with educators "stealing" this IP to distribute it freely, when that would be absolutely unacceptable for a commercial enterprise. Heck, that would be even worse than selling it, for a commercial enterprise. Essentially, no one looks at this educational work product through the lens of the work-for-hire doctrine, because it's educational work product.

Cheryl said...

Has anyone thought about who buys those lesson plans? Other teachers. Out of their own pockets. Because they want to make their own classes better. Which, unfortunately, is how it works out here. How many of you are just expected to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars per year just to have the equipment necessary to do your job.

I can't do all the work within the "hours I am paid for." Does that mean that because I spend time working outside of school, the district now owns every single hour of my time and every thought in my head?

I changed careers to teaching a few years ago because I wanted to make a difference. It's the hardest job I've ever had, and it pays the least. And I am consistently amazed at how nasty people are online when it comes to things they say about teachers. Kentuckyliz, as a fellow educator, should be ashamed of herself. In this economy, we're all lucky to have jobs and we're all doing more with less, no matter what level of education we teach.

The other thing that amazes me? That when a teacher speaks up on a thread like this to defend or explain our profession, we're ordinarily accused of "whining."

traditionalguy said...

Pastafarian...A restraint on trade enforced by the government is a state controlled collectivist result for a private Corporation. There are limits on that so that slavery is restrained. These are intellectual products of human minds. Selling them should never be illegal under a state enforced control. The article in question focuses on teachers working for the State trying to pursue life liberty and Happiness to the benefit of everyone but the Treasurer of the Collectivist State. I am sorry if you are mistreated, but why does that justify others having to suffering too. Must you have the power to redistribute the abuse among other victims to make you feel better?

Pastafarian said...

Cheryl, as other commenters have pointed out, teachers aren't blue-collar workers; they're white collar workers (that, curiously enough, work for unions that would put AFSCME pipe-wielding thugs to shame).

So teachers aren't just the assembly line workers assembling the steering column; they're the engineers designing the steering column. Obviously, these engineers shouldn't be allowed to sell their designs to the highest bidder, even if they designed them "off the clock" or outside of work. If you don't understand why that should be so, then I don't know how to argue with you.

Balfegor, apparently people (Cheryl) are also A-OK with designers of steering columns selling their designs to the highest bidder. The fact that there are people out there who don't understand the point to IP laws doesn't make those laws unnecessary, or mean that they shouldn't apply to all enterprises.

Pastafarian said...

traditionalguy: So I guess there should be no patents, because they restrain the free trade of information?

No trademarks? No laws against plagiarism?

I mean, otherwise, we're all slaves to the Collectivist State, right?

Oligonicella said...

I have people in my family who are teachers. They do a good job, I believe. That said, it's a job. It's not a calling or they wouldn't be concerned about pay, hours and retirement. It's a job and they're just employees. They aren't saints and they aren't saviors. They deserve no more or less than any other person working a job. Let's first off quit pretending teachers are some kind of special people, they aren't.

wv: vatica - what academia wishes it was.

Dr Weevil said...

Pastafarian and others:
Could you please stop assuming that all public-school teachers are unionized? They are in some states, but not in others. I teach in Virginia (Shenandoah Valley), and very few of my colleagues have bothered to join the union, which has very little power. If 'card check' passes and we unionize, I'll quit.

I'm pretty sure we're paid a lot less than engineers, too. If I can find the salary scale, I'll give you some examples so you can judge for yourselves, but I'm not going to tell you how much I make.

Pastafarian said...

Cheryl, I didn't see anything that kentuckyliz wrote as nasty; she was complaining that K-12 teachers made much more than she did, and that they had better benefits.

You're not saying that she's "whining", are you? Because you just said that this is what others call teachers' complaints about their pay.

Now, I've said some very negative things here about American education. Other commenters have pointed out that the US starts out with some of the brightest kindergartners in the world, and produces very mediocre 12th graders. However, there are some outstanding teachers out there, and if you're one of them, then I commend you and thank you for the thankless and very difficult career you've chosen.

My problem is with a system that sets education apart from the capitalist economy that produces the best products, at the lowest cost, every time it's employed. I think that education should be treated like every other enterprise out there: Excellent teachers should be rewarded with higher salaries; bad teachers should be fired; schools should compete against one another for customers.

And a part of this capitalist system is intellectual property law. An employer owns the intellectual property created by its employees.

Balfegor said...

I can't do all the work within the "hours I am paid for." Does that mean that because I spend time working outside of school, the district now owns every single hour of my time and every thought in my head?

No, just the education-related ones. I mean, I'm not an IP lawyer, but I think it comes down to whether it's within the scope of your employment. There are some exceptions, e.g. the shop right doctrine (where the employee-inventor retains patent rights to the invention, but there's an automatic license to the employer), but I'm not sure that this would fall within them.

Balfegor said...

Balfegor, apparently people (Cheryl) are also A-OK with designers of steering columns selling their designs to the highest bidder. The fact that there are people out there who don't understand the point to IP laws doesn't make those laws unnecessary, or mean that they shouldn't apply to all enterprises.

I'm making a descriptive point, not a normative point. More broadly, I do tend to think that laws are more legitimate when they reflect or mirror what I call "folk" law (lay intuitions about what the law is or should be), and less legitimate when they conflict with "folk" law, but that's not really what's at issue here. You could cite all the caselaw in the world at people, and it wouldn't persuade them that that's the way things ought to be.

Pastafarian said...

Oligonicella -- for the best teachers, it's a calling. Most of these seem to work in private schools, where they make half what the public school teachers do, and they don't have the remarkable retirement benefits.

Dr Weevil -- when comparing salaries, be sure to factor in those retirement benefits. Only engineers at Government Motors have that sort of retirement. And also include job security, and actual hours worked. And how difficult it is to graduate with a degree in engineering, compared to a degree in education.

Cheryl -- the above is not an attempt to disparage. If schools had to compete for customers, then they'd pay a premium for teachers with high gpas from good schools, as companies do with engineers, and education departments would become more competitive, etc.

David said...

Let me start by saying that this is not legal advice.

But there has been enough loose talk about what the law is, or should be, that it's worth pointing to 17 USC Section 10, which states in pertinent part that a "Works Made for Hire" is

(1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment.

The copyright on a work made for hire is owned by the employer. The "scope of employment" is generally a relatively broad category, so if you create something that relates to your employment, you might want to think about seeing a lawyer before you try to sell it. The phrase "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission" doesn't apply to copyright.

As music downloaders are finding out, copyright holders get to choose between actual and statutory damage, statutory damages for willful violations are as high as $30,000 per violation (for example, each lesson plan sold), and even though plaintiffs always think that they have the moral high ground, juries tend to take copyright violations very seriously.

Balfegor said...

juries tend to take copyright violations very seriously.

When they're arguing for statutory damages, I don't think it's a question of whether the jury takes copyright violations "seriously" or not -- they're not setting the damages level anymore. They're just finding that, yes, an instance of copyright violation occurred. The damages flow from that. Pure factfinding.

Balfegor said...

statutory damages for willful violations are as high as $30,000 per violation (for example, each lesson plan sold),

I should also note, again, that if we're viewing this through the copyright lens, it can be a wilful violation whether or not it's actually sold (just like with filesharing). That example should be "each lesson plan distributed."

Dr Weevil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Weevil said...

Keep on digging, Pastafarian. My retirement pay will be 1.7% of my final year's salary times the number of years worked. I don't believe there is any provision for beefing up the last year's pay with overtime, as police and firemen do in some states. If I stay 30 years, I'll be getting 51% of the final year's pay. (I will also be 85 years old, since I started teaching public school at 55.) Once again, you do not know what you are talking about if you say or imply that all public-school teachers have retirement benefits comparable to "engineers at Government Motors". In New York, maybe, but not in Virginia, and not in a lot of other states, either. I don't get any 'free health care for life', either, or anything like that, and my current health plan, though not bad, has plenty of co-pays and deductibles.

I also do not have much job security. I've never heard of anything resembling tenure in my county, and I'm pretty sure my principal could have me out the door in under half an hour if I did something outrageous enough for him to want to fire me in mid-year with no replacement lined up. One teacher in my county was (according to colleagues) let go at the end of the year for only teaching the subject four days a week, with cookies and a movie every Friday. He thought it was a good way to motivate the kids to work hard during the week, but the principal thought he wasn't doing his job.

Actual hours worked? I haven't counted, but it's definitely over 2000 per year. I have another 5+ hours of work to do tonight before I go to bed, and the alarm is set for 6:45. Some, though not much, of the work is on evenings and weekends, e.g. Parents' Night, awards ceremonies, and 'gate duty' at sports events (all non-coaches do that twice a semester). That's not even counting the things I don't technically have to go to, but feel obliged to, like the football game against the cross-county rival last Friday. It was damned cold, but students do feel appreciated when we show up for these things. It helps morale, and (indirectly) learning.

traditionalguy said...

Pastafarian... These lesson plans are the property of their creators who can copywrite them if they please to do so. Making people owners of property that is private and defending its owners is a legitimate government action. But making property Nationalised for the rulers and the sub-rulers and the sub-sub-sub-rulers control is not legitimate and needs to be stopped. We are close to forbiding buying and selling without permissiom from Kafka's masters; and the masters smiling while they do it is not an acceptible excuse for stealing.

Dr Weevil said...

Simple question for those who think that the schools own or should own the lesson plans:
I've taught at seven or eight different high schools in my life. Was I legally obligated to leave my lesson plans behind and write all new ones every time I changed jobs? Would the new ones have to be significantly different from the old ones? That might be difficult, as well as incredibly tedious, since my teaching style hasn't change much over the years. How about the various handouts I use to supplement the textbooks? Do I need to leave them behind for someone else to use who had nothing to do with creating them, while using some other teacher's discarded plans at my new school? That seems utterly ridiculous to me.

NDC said...

K-12 teaching contracts typically explicitly give a number of days and hours worked per day, so determining what was off-the-clock would be pretty easy. The district, as public schools currently exist, really has no expectation to summer time or additional hours after the work day, as long as expected basic professional duties are carried out. I wouldn't think that a teacher could simply not complete report cards by a deadline because the end of the work day arrived, but I don't know of a district anywhere that could have any expectation that the teachers work on non-contract days to develop additional resources in the summer.

As far as lesson plans being expected and checked, lesson plans and the resources needed to execute those plans are quite different, and the plans are the less time-consuming part. No district that I've heard off requires teachers to submit all of their supplemental resources, and that would be the first difficulty, I'd suspect, in treating those resources as the districts IP. The district most likely doesn't even know what's being developed and used.

It's probably also worth keeping in mind when the teachers are overpaid argument winds up that teachers may only teach five hours of the eight hour contract day, but they are pretty frequently assigned duties supervising or working with kids for another big chunk of the day. this is particularly true in elementary school. I think in my state, elementary teachers get about a 20 minute lunch without duty and another half hour or so of planning time when they take the kids to PE or music, etc. In high school, you might be sponsoring a club or supervising the cafeteria or a hallway, etc. And that doesn't even get into the grading that needs to be done.

Certainly, if the district was interested in the best use of the taxpayers' money, they'd hire minimum wage employees to handle all non-instructional tasks and let teachers spend their time teaching and evaluating student progress, but that isn't how most public districts work.

Skyler said...

The distinction of work for hire is a good point. I didn't know of this federal law but it's pretty reasonable on reflection. If I hire you to build a computer it would be silly for you to claim that you then own the computer.

The essence of this property claim comes down to whether the lesson plans are part of the teacher's scope of work. Did the teacher conceive the plans as a result of his or her work and then simply compile or document the work ideas while off work? It would be a question for a jury.

prairie wind said...

Dr. Weevil beat me to it. I've never seen a school that acts as if it owns the lesson plans. Given that, I'd say teachers are right to assume they own the lesson plans.

Cheryl said...

Pastafarian, regarding the engineer/steering column bit, my point is that K-6 teachers (I can't speak to 7-12, as I don't teach that) are not paid for writing the types of lessons plans that are sold online (which are extensions of curriculum) any more than an assembly worker is paid to design car parts. We're paid to teach the curriculum effectively, not to write text books or lesson plans that go above and beyond our curriculum. There are writers who do get paid for that, and perhaps THEY should not sell lesson plans online. Good teachers (a club to which I hope I belong) do write lesson plans that extend or improve curriculum, but we are not paid extra for that or even expected to do that by our districts.

Re. kentuckyliz: "I don't want to hear their bitching...They can suck my ..... gradebook." It was that language to which I was referring. I wouldn't call her comments regarding pay discrepancies whining, I just don't think referring to other education professional's arguments as "bitching" is, well... professional. Or nice. And I spend more than enough time with my own gradebook, thank you very much.

John said...

Teachers earn, on average, about $53,000/yr US average. That puts them well in the upper half of all 4 year degree holders.

It is nonsense to say they are underpaid.

As far as IP, I agree with the commenters that the school gets to set the rules and the teachers must live by them.

John Henry

Skyler said...

I think that average salary is not very useful. New York City may give them a six figure salary, but most of the school teachers I know of in Texas are making something closer to $28k or thereabouts.

kentuckyliz said...

Wow, Cheryl, chillax. You get paid better, better tax breaks, loan forgiveness, peachy retirement, health insurance for life...whereas college teachers who have to have higher qualifications get paid less, and have to teach high school graduates basic skills the K-12 system didn't.

Sorry, I'm not sure which of these facts you think *I* should be ashamed of.

I was supportive of teachers owning their IP if district policies don't state otherwise.

So this is how you treat your allies, huh?

How's that workin for ya?

Kev said...

So many things to discuss here:

“To the extent that school district resources are used, then I think it’s fair to ask whether the district should share in the proceeds,” said Robert N. Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents.

What kind of a job title is that, and who decided that such a position was needed? Mr. Lowry, I say that you need to get yourself back in a classroom, post-haste, and prove your worth, or leave the profession of education entirely; we'd be a lot better off without your bureaucratic self. And along those lines:

If a school district was really concerned about balancing the books, they would eliminate vast numbers of administrators.

Amen to that. I actually have a plan that would solve this problem, and I'll continue to proclaim it loudly until someone has the courage to try it: Require every administrator, from school principals all the way up to the superintendent, to teach one class every day. This would allow them to keep one foot in actual education while performing their other duties, which would likely keep them from turning into politicians and bureaucrats--a dismantling of the proverbial ivory tower, if you will.

Another feature of this plan is that it would eliminate the need for a teachers' union, since those in "management" would also be involved in "labor." (And I agree with those who say that teachers should not be unionized; teaching is a profession, not a blue-collar trade, and there's no reason to act otherwise. As was implied earlier, you don't see the doctors going on strike, do you?)

Andrea said...

Kentuckyliz, some of the commenters here have already explained that not all states give K-12 teachers all the peachy keen bling that you listed. Another state where teachers get paid lower than others is Florida, where my father was a teacher for twenty years. We never had a lot of money, my parents drove old used cars, our house (in Miami) didn't have air-conditioning, etc. And there was no year-round pay for teachers until a few years before my father retired, which meant that unless he was able to get a slot in summer school, he had to find another job for three months out of the year so my parents could pay the mortgage and buy groceries.

And yes, he belonged to the teacher's union, but he had to -- and he hated it, because they were always going on strike (this was in the 70s and early 80s), and he wanted to work. As for "health insurance for life" -- I've never heard of such a thing. Anyway, my father went to the VA for his medical needs, as he'd been in the army. I've never heard of this "loan forgiveness" -- we certainly had no such thing when my father was alive.

Kev said...

One more thing: Dr. Weevil, IMHO, nails it in his 7:03 comment WRT the IP issue when he says the following:

I've taught at seven or eight different high schools in my life. Was I legally obligated to leave my lesson plans behind and write all new ones every time I changed jobs? Would the new ones have to be significantly different from the old ones?

Exactly. And for anyone who disagrees with this, answer the following question: If a football coach is hired away by another school, would he have to leave, say, his "spread" offense at his old school and develop a completely new one for his new employer? And would his successor thus be bound to use the spread himself, since the school "owns" it?

(And isn't it in fact possible that the coach might have been hired by the new school for his spread offense, just like a teacher might be lured away to a better situation because of his/her ability to teach and innovative methods of teaching the subject matter?)

Skyler said...

Kev, your coaching analogy doesn't work.

There is no property right to a coaching scheme. In fact, sports requires copying a successful method. When the forward pass was exploited by Knute Rockne, there was nothing keeping USC from copying it.

A lesson plan from one school is certainly that school's property. I can't imagine anyone enforcing that property right, though, because that would be extremely petty and not worth the legal costs. A teacher would be hired for their ability to create a lesson plan (among other qualities) and they should be expected to create a new one for the new school, but probably using the same ideas from the old school. If they just xerox the old plan, then there is a legitimate complaint, though it is not worth the trouble and it would just be petty and mean spirited.

Which is exactly what this issue is. Petty and mean spirited.

miller said...

"Certainly, if the district was interested in the best use of the taxpayers' money, they'd hire minimum wage employees to handle all non-instructional tasks and let teachers spend their time teaching and evaluating student progress, but that isn't how most public districts work."

This is a very good point, but school districts don't seem to operate logically.

Cheryl said...

Some of you people just crack me up. Skyler, I don't think you understand what a lesson plan IS. The ideas don't come from a school--they come from personal research (outside of school) and an idea from the teacher's own head and experience of how to present certain material so that students will be engaged and understand. The coaching analogy is indeed an excellent one, and it makes more sense than any other argument or analogy in this thread.

kentuckyliz, another commentator makes a good point re. loan forgiveness, etc. What? Not where I am. Regardless, I already said I have no problem with your legitimate points, just the "bitching" and "suck my gradebook" comment re k-12 teachers.

Skyler said...

Cheryl, you crack me up. I don't think you know what it means to create something as part of one's work.

A teacher is paid to teach per a lesson plan. Every teacher I know makes their own lesson plan or cribs one from someone else. It's all good.

I remember all my high school teachers being under a lot of pressure on certain days to deliver their lesson plans to their boss, I assume the principal. The lesson plan was work product. It was submitted per the direction of the principal, it was evaluated for sufficiency, and it was expected to be adhered to, within reason.

The point that a jury would have to decide, if such a stupidly petty thing were ever to go to a court, would be what part of the lesson plan being sold, if any, was created for the class that the teacher was hired to teach?

It's not really such a clear cut issue, and stomping your feet and insisting that others agree with you isn't very persuasive.

Skyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skyler said...

As precedent for the position that lesson plans are school property, I recall my own high school English class.

We had a very good 10th grade English teacher (you probably couldn't tell from my current style of writing) who used Nebraska School System lesson plans. I don't know why she went for that, we were in Virginia. But the book was a soft binder of fairly modest quality, but the content was very good.

I imagine that the teachers of Nebraska (which back when I was in high school seemed like it was Little House on the Prairie to us Virginians) assembled this book from their lesson plans. Our school system then bought the books.

Seems to me that the owner of the material was the Nebraskan school system, not the individual teachers.

jaed said...

Was I legally obligated to leave my lesson plans behind and write all new ones every time I changed jobs?

Well, of course you were, unless your contract of work gave you ownership of lesson plans you developed, or a license to use them. I'm not sure why this is even surprising.

If I worked as a salaried employee at Apple Computer, let's say doing software testing, and I sat down at home and wrote various tools to assist me, Apple would certainly own the copyright to those tools. If I walked off with copies without Apple's written permission and took them to my next company to use in software testing there, I'd be in breach of the law, unquestionably.

You might make the case that that use would be beneficial to a competitor and therefore detrimental to Apple, but it's also true where there is no such detriment. For example, if I wrote a book intended for third-party publication about how to use the software I had been testing, that book's copyright would also belong to Apple barring special contractual arrangements.

Does this really come as a shock?

Lisa said...

Kentuckyliz,

We get $250 off the top of our taxes because most teachers don't make enough money to itemize yet spend at least twice that on our classrooms.

Our salaries aren't great but we work 10 months out of the year, not 8. Most of us do school work in the summer as well. Most of us also have Masters degrees.

Lisa said...

Bart,

The math I am currently teaching my 7th graders was math I learned in high school. High school students in my district are doing more sophisticated science than I did 20 years ago.

It's easy to say there is a difference and it must be the schools fault. But you need to remember one thing: education law has changed significantly since we were in school and I don't just mean NCLB. Special education laws now require any child who can function (at all) in a mainstream classroom to be taught at their level in a regular classroom. Discipline has been eroded by lawsuits, Congress and state legislatures. NCLB dumbed down the tests given yearly to students in an attempt to ensure that more kids pass. We no longer have a college track and a vocational track. Everyone is expected to go to college, to take college prep courses whether they want to or not, whether they have the ability or not.

Don't blame the schools for things that were forced upon us.

Lisa said...

John Lynch,

I am a professional, not a 'blue collar'. I hold a Masters degree in my profession and am licensed and certified in the state as are doctors and engineers. I have to use my professional judgment on a daily basis making instructional decisions. I am, like all professionals, vulnerable to a malpractice law suit. Like all professionals, I am obligated under law to maintain a certain amount of continued education.

If you think teachers complain too much, perhaps it is because of all the ignorant asses out there who think they have a clue what really happens in education and think teachers are nothing more than whiny, overpaid, stupid, interchangable bozos responsible for all Americas ills.

Lynne said...

Just a brief comment in support of Cheryl and Lisa.
My husband is a public school teacher. He also holds a Master's degree.
As to the $53k per year average- like the rest of society, the current crop of teachers is aging and has been in the field quite a few years in many cases. That $53k is not a *starting* salary. Often it's the pinnacle of a 25-year career.
How many engineers and businessmen want to work for 15-20 years before they earn $53k?
And what is this 'loan forgiveness' you speak of? We struggled under my husband's loan payments until just a few years ago. If such programs exist, they are by no means universal.
As for the all-powerful teacher's unions that guarantee total job security, lifetime gold-plated benefits and 6-figure salaries- can you tell me where they operate? We'll gladly move there. The union here is a bad joke that nobody takes seriously. Tootheless as a hen.
Until recently, my husband chose to specialize in 'at risk' schools. He's been attacked with scissors, had furniture thrown at him, helped his colleagues pick up spent bullets and syringes off the playground. All while his students meet or exceed 'no child left behind' standards *every year.*
So I do get a little irritated with discussions like this. He produces more high-quality work, in tough conditions, at a lower price, than many of the "professionals" I've personally worked with in other areas.
And no, I'm not whining. I'm bragging. He's damned good at what he does, and I'm proud of him.

Darren said...

Corporations lose market share or money if their employees essentially "compete" against them by selling intellectual property. If a teacher sells ideas to other teachers, *everyone* wins--the students, both teachers, and in theory the school and district will look better come standardized test time. Given that, what legitimate reason could there be for not *encouraging* this practice?

prairie wind said...

"Does this really come as a shock?"

Well, yes. I've never heard of a school asking a teacher to leave behind the lesson plans when he leaves for a new school. You can argue all you like that in other professions IP belongs to the employer but the current practice in education is that the teachers own the lesson plans.

As for teachers getting paid year-round, in Nebraska teachers can opt for year-round paychecks. That doesn't meant they get paid for not working in the summer, it just means that their paychecks are spread throughout the year.

Comparing teachers's salaries with engineers, doctors, or anyone else is foolish. There are fewer doctors than there are teachers. There are fewer engineers than there are teachers. Teachers are a dime a dozen. We value what they do but--really!--a teacher is easily replaced. Sad thing is that for the few truly excellent teachers out there who really ARE hard to replace, their pay doesn't reflect that.

holdfast said...

I spent a lot of my time in the Army in the classroom, first as a student and then as an instructor. Since I started before computers were commonplace in the Army (by that I mean among enlisted instructors - obviously clerks and officers had them), we had to prepare all our lesson plans and overhead transparencies by hand - a huge pain in the butt, but it was an excellent tool for fixing the information in your mind. Sure you already knew that information, but preparing the lesson plan helped to fix the knowledge at a deeper level, and made it more likely you would know information beyond the scope of your lesson plan (the stuff you thought about including, but had to drop for the sake of brevity) - you know, the stuff you might get asked by inquisitive students. My point is that if some teachers are selling their lesson plans, that means that others are buying them, and those teachers are likely to be less well grounded in the materials than those that prepared their own lesson plans.

Kev said...

Skyler, you're completely missing the boat by comparing education with business; the two are really like apples and kumquats. Why? Because 1) Education is an outcome, not a product or commodity, and 2) Schools aren't in competition with each other.

To use your Apple example: Obviously, if you work for Apple, you're expected to develop products or services that people will buy more of than similar products or services made by Microsoft. But on education, if you produce brilliant, well-rounded students who are prepared for college or the workforce, and the school in the next town does the same thing, that's a good thing, because you're not in competition with each other.

We in education are growing weary of people from the business world trying to apply their methods to our profession. Just as I wouldn't be named to the board of Apple, even though I own a lot of their products, we really shouldn't have so much meddling in education by non-educators.

Kev said...

Sorry, I see now thar the Apple analogy was jael's and not Skyler's. But you're both missing the boat here.

Skyler said...

Kev, it wasn't my Apple example, though working at Apple was the best job I ever had in the civilian world.

We in education are growing weary of people from the business world trying to apply their methods to our profession.

We're not really talking about education, per se. We're talking about property rights. Either the lesson plans are owned by individual teachers or by the school. The answer to the issue depends heavily on the facts of the case which we can't really know from our brief exposure.

The point is that you can't claim that education is special somehow in this area. Once you start selling a lesson plan, then the fair use doctrine isn't likely to apply so there is no exception for educators. You may not like that, but that's the way it is.

Dr Weevil said...

Three more questions for those who think the school owns the lesson plans, even if they were written at home and there's nothing in the contract saying so:
1. I assume our distinguished host has accumulated a stack of syllabuses, lecture notes, and (possibly under another name) lesson plans over the years, and doesn't just 'wing it' when she steps into the classroom. If some other law school were to hire her away from Wisconsin, would she have to throw them all away and write new ones from scratch, or could she just revise them lightly and use them again, as I imagine she does now?
2. I've published a lot of articles in scholarly journals. Some of the journals insisted on keeping the copyright themselves, others allowed me to keep it. No one has ever suggested that the various schools at which I wrote them have any claim on them. Do they? Should they?
3. I tend to revise articles for years before publishing them. Very few of my (47 so far) articles were written at one school, and some have been revised while I taught at half a dozen. Would all those schools somehow share the copyright? If not, which one gets it, the one where I first had the idea and jotted down a sentence or two, the one where I started actually writing the article, the one where I did the most work on it (as if I or anyone else has been counting), the one where I finished and submitted it, the one where I taught when it was accepted (that's the school whose name will most likely be on it under my own), or the one where I taught when it actually came out?
As a distinguished British political philosopher once put it, "if we open that can of worms, we're liable to find it's full of Trojan Horses".
wv: orefes -- someone can't spell orifice?

Shanna said...

Shanna, the harm is to the taxpayer. The taxpayer has paid that teacher already to produce that lesson plan (if we assume it's a public school), and the school owns it. It doesn't belong to the teacher, so they shouldn't be able to sell it.

But what is the school doing with this ownership? How does it harm the school or the taxpayer if the teacher makes a profit, really? Presumably, a teacher will not make an effort to promote and sell something if they cannot make any profit and the money goes to, I don’t know, school administrator bonus’s or whatever the school would spend it on. I am a taxpayer and it doesn’t bother me a bit.

Excellent teachers should be rewarded with higher salaries; bad teachers should be fired; schools should compete against one another for customers.

We’re probably not going to fix the school competition part, but I think many people are in favor of teacher selling their stuff because it DOES reward better teachers (or at least, more creative ones) with a higher salaries. And it does it at no cost to the taxpayer. Again, I’m not seeing the harm.

Skyler said...

Shanna, you're ignoring my example of my high school in Virginia buying the Nebraska curriculum for teaching me English. They paid the Nebraska school system, not individual teachers, presumably because the school system did a lot of work with the teachers to develop the lesson plans and curriculum.

Weevil, the thing is that we don't know enough to say whether who has a legal right to the lesson plans. If anyone really feels a need to fight over it, there would be massive discovery before trial and a jury would have to interpret when the lesson plans were created and who owned them. It's just not as simple as you'd like to portray it.

prairie wind said...

Skyler, I'd still bet that if individual Nebraska teachers developed those lesson plans (and not some curriculum coordinator in the admin)those teachers still carried the plans with them when they switched schools. And I'd bet that the schools expect that.

The schools have set the standard here, and the standard is that lesson plans belong to the teachers.

Lisa said...

For those of you who keep going on and on about paying according to performance, promising great teachers great pay. I say bull. North Carolina promised bonuses to all teachers in schools that exceeded expectations. They've already stopped paying out those bonuses.

Here's the problem... everytime the budget gets tough, teachers salaries get put on the block. If you equate pay with performance, you are just making it easier for them to cut our pay when the budget gets tight

Shanna said...

Shanna, you're ignoring my example of my high school in Virginia buying the Nebraska curriculum for teaching me English. They paid the Nebraska school system, not individual teachers, presumably because the school system did a lot of work with the teachers to develop the lesson plans and curriculum.

I ignored it, because we really don't know anything about the development of that curriculum or who got paid what. Perhaps the school system hired people specificially to develop a curriculum? That is quite different than Teacher Suzy who created a puzzle she thought her students would like (which no one at work ever asked her for) and found out that some people liked it enough to pay a whopping 75 cents for it. I don't think the two examples are analogous, unless I see a lot more information about your example.

Skyler said...

Oh, so your boss has to ask you for every piece of work you do to that degree of specification? Does he also ask you to blow your nose when it's needed? Your stance is indefensible. If a teacher creates a puzzle to be used in the class, then it is very arguably work product. A teacher is expected to use creativity to teach. A jury might very well agree with you. Then again, a jury also acquited OJ.

As an engineer, if I get a good idea for how to make something in the factory more efficient, that is work product for my employer, especially if I put it into effect at my employers place of business. This is absolutely no different than making a puzzle for your students. Teaching simply is not THAT special and you can't simply wish away something you don't like.

jaed said...

You can argue all you like that in other professions IP belongs to the employer but the current practice in education is that the teachers own the lesson plans.

This is employment law I'm talking about, not "practice" or the specific methods of one profession. It applies to every employee, and teachers are employees. Under the law, the employer owns work product unless there is a contractual agreement otherwise. There are no special exemptions in the law for certain professions.

It could be that teachers' employment contracts routinely include a provision that assigns the teacher the copyright in lesson plans and other materials. For all I know that might be the case. In which case, employment law is satisfied.

Or, more likely while the districts own the copyright, they don't currently enforce that. This is probably a good idea policy-wise - at least the outcome is one I approve of, namely that teachers can take their lesson plans with them.

But if it's just a general practice of not enforcing their legal rights, they can always change their minds and start enforcing copyright. Sooner or later some school district will decide it wants to enforce its legal rights, and then there'll be a mess. Putting it into the contract is better. Probably assign the teacher the copyrights, with a perpetual free-of-charge license to the employer. (That way the teacher can't sue the district if another teacher uses the lesson plans. There's got to be at least one teacher out there who might do that.)

John said...

Skyler said...
"most of the school teachers I know of in Texas are making something closer to $28k or thereabouts.

Average teacher salary in Texas is $41,700 and this puts them #7 of all states on the salary comfort index (An index of salary vs cost of living)
http://teacherportal.com/teacher-salaries-by-state

Yeah, play that song about underpaid teachers again.

But not to me. I know better.

John Henry

Skyler said...

I didn't say that the teachers I knew were average. In small towns they don't make much. I think most are over paid, to be honest.

The amount they are paid is irrelevent to the issue, however. If they make seven figure salaries, the rules are still the same.

traditionalguy said...

This issue can be solved with the latest mind science developments. We can easily insert an implant into techer's brains in the area where lesson plans are developed or accessed as a condition of recieving money credit deposits into their accounts, and from that moment the Big Brother Government can withdraw from the accont money credits when that part of their brain functions while not under a close classroom monitor surveilance. Problem solved once and of these Criminal Teachers acting like citizens after they have been legally enslaved. Nobody better copy this lesson plan plan until I get my Czar's job running the Program from the White House.

grapp said...

That's why I never did any of my prep work at school. It was done all at home. My time, my creativity, my energy. Half the time, the school doesn't even have the resources to help you develop stuff you want; you've got to go elsewhere and dig and synthesize. Why should it be theirs? Anyway, I walked because the game wasn't worth the candle. It was either walk out on my two feet or stay and be carried out in a box. Then I set out for distant shores where I don't have to deal with indifferent, ignorant, and proud of it.

grapp said...

"The kids are no less bright, on average, than they were in 1973, so the fault most obviously lies within the educational system."

They're not less bright. They're just victims of the self-esteem idiocy. So they're damn ignorant, know it, and still feel good about themselves anyway.