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Education The Almighty Buck

Public School Teachers Selling Lesson Plans Online 590

Posted by kdawson
from the pin-money dept.
theodp writes "Thousands of teachers are using websites like Teachers Pay Teachers and We Are Teachers to cash in on a commodity they used to give away, selling lesson plans online for exercises as simple as M&M sorting and as sophisticated as Shakespeare. While some of this extra money is going to buy books and classroom supplies, the new teacher-entrepreneurs are also spending it on dinners out, mortgage payments, credit card bills, vacation travel and even home renovation, raising questions over who owns material developed for public school classrooms."
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Public School Teachers Selling Lesson Plans Online

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  • *First post.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by stillpixel (1575443) on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:52AM (#30112592) Homepage Journal
    The teacher owns the material, it is they who develops it and in no way has to do with the schools.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rtb61 (674572)

      Robing Peter to pay Paul is pointless and stupid. Obviously lesson plans produced at government funded public schools should be kept free and open so that they can be effectively refined and tailored for specific environments. A shared resource granting a community benefit in creating and maintaining the best possible lesson plans.

      The only thing greed ever feeds is more greed.

      • Re:*First post.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by x_IamSpartacus_x (1232932) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:06AM (#30112658)
        This is just a retarded question. Teachers make piss for money and now someone is complaining that they are actually doing something to compliment that? Teachers on average make less than $50,000/year doing one of the most publicly scrutinized, emotionally demanding jobs in the USA. They got a 2.6% increase last year but their buying power went DOWN according to the AFT Public Employees [aft.org]
        .
        We should be applauding these teachers for finding good ways to pass around good teaching material, not bitching that "the taxpayers pay you to teach so we own all of your creative works and you can't ever make money off of them".

        For the record, NO I am not a teacher. I just happen to think that we should be doing everything we can to make sure our teachers succeed. Obama talks a big game and I hope he comes through for them but at this point it's been talk.

        Piss off theodp and rtb61.
        • Re:*First post.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Quothz (683368) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:42AM (#30112824) Journal

          Teachers on average make less than $50,000/year doing one of the most publicly scrutinized, emotionally demanding jobs in the USA.

          Wrong link. You meant to point to this page, I think. (Your page addresses the salaries of probation officers, agricultural inspectors, and lots of other jobs, but not teachers.) The AFT's numbers show that schoolteachers, on average, make -slightly more- than $50,000/year. While I agree they're badly underpaid, one should also bear in mind that they don't work year-round and get much more vacation than most workers. They do work long hours, but so does everyone else. [aft.org]

          Again, I agree their pay is abysmal when compared to their responsibilities and the qualifications we need from them. I can't help but feel our schools'd be in far better shape if we fired, say, 80% or so of the administration and gave their salaries to the teachers.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by joocemann (1273720)

            We need phDs in high school and true masters in our colleges. We should be paying teachers twice what they are now and expecting the very best for it. But more teachers, too, so that students are not overly inaccesible -- and involving people of the community to come and teach about their jobs and lives. Teach about regular things that people do, don't give the kids a robo-baby in Home-Ec (they did that with me), take them to a nursery and bring in local moms with babies.

            Education, community, and communi

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              Salary is set by supply-and-demand. Simple as that. There is a HUGE supply of education graduates out there, such that schools don't need to accept anyone below a 3.5 average, nor pay a lot of money to attract the talent. If Ed. grads become scarce, then trust me, the salaries would go up.

              As for who owns the lesson plans, if the teachers signed the same agreement I did as an engineer (all creations belong to the corporation) then it's the school district that owns them. If not, then the teachers own the

              • The problem is, as a teacher, I frequently share my ideas with other teachers without expecting payment... or at least, not in money - my desire is to generate more ideas and sharing freely encourages others to do the same - the more ideas, the more good ideas (albeit more bad ones too). In terms of rights, the teachers are usually the rights-holders, but we are at the same time frequently required to hand in our planbook at the end of the year / tenure of employment.

                There is frequently not a huge supply
            • Re:*First post.. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by all5n (1239664) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:05PM (#30116228)

              "We should be paying teachers twice what they are now and expecting the very best for it."

              I agree. But that is not going to happen until we can get rid of the teachers unions. They ensure that bad teachers do not get fired, and that all teachers are paid the same without regard to talent. Basically the opposite of a meritocracy.

              Expecting anything other than mediocrity under those conditions is a denial of reality.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Yes that was the link I wanted, thank you. I don't know how I didn't notice the misinformation in my first link. Google linked to the one I posted from my search "Average Teachers Salary USA" and I should have read it more carefully.

            Administration is definitely in need of restructure in American public schools. Though I think MOST professions can say that. There will always be ways to shuffle around the money that goes into the school system but those ways are MUCH more complicated and mistake-prone than
          • Re:*First post.. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Monday November 16, 2009 @04:20AM (#30112990)

            Well at my high school there was:

            A principle, vice principle/academic councilor, librarian, janitor, I think two accountants and a secretary. Not sure where I would have cut 80% of that.

            And I know my mom would LOVE for there be more money spent on administration at her schools since she spends so much time filling out paperwork wasting tons of tax payers' dollars to ensure precious tax payers' dollars aren't being wasted.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by surferx0 (1206364)

          Teachers make piss for money and now someone is complaining that they are actually doing something to compliment that? Teachers on average make less than $50,000/year doing one of the most publicly scrutinized, emotionally demanding jobs in the USA.

          In which they only work 180 days a year, get rock solid job security after a few years, have great family health coverage, and are provided a pension plan that absolves them from having to pay the social security "tax" every paycheck like the rest of us who probably won't even get anything out of it.

          It's not as bad of a deal as you would think (why do you think so many people do it?) and it's not bad pay actually if you break it down on a per day basis, and your pay is guaranteed to increase over time as

          • Re:*First post.. (Score:5, Informative)

            by edumacator (910819) on Monday November 16, 2009 @06:33AM (#30113542)

            In which they only work 180 days a year

            It's actually a lot more than that. The students go 180 days. Most teachers are on 190 day schedule, but - and this is important - almost all teachers spend a good part of their two months off working to plan their lessons for the next year. We still get a lot of time off, but it isn't nearly as much as people think. Generally I get to school at 6:00 and leave around 5:00pm carrying a huge briefcase full of essays to grade. I spend about an hour or two grading every night. Not every night, but most. I go to about 20 or more school functions to support my students every year and go to two or three conferences over the summer. Most of my colleagues work about as much.

            , get rock solid job security after a few years, have great family health coverage,and are provided a pension plan that absolves them from having to pay the social security "tax" every paycheck like the rest of us who probably won't even get anything out of it.

            Every school day, nearly a thousand teachers leave the field of teaching. - http://www.all4ed.org/files/archive/publications/TeacherAttrition.pdf [all4ed.org] (PDF)

            Your points are true but only for those who stay in teaching. The attrition rate for teachers is extremely high. So, the points you make are only valid for a small group of the teachers that actually make it to be vested. For most teachers getting to "avoid" the SS tax just means they lose those working years for their eventual retirement, assuming SS isn't insolvent by then.

        • Re:*First post.. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by LatencyKills (1213908) on Monday November 16, 2009 @08:57AM (#30114262)
          I agree - teachers are paid far too little (and no, I'm not a teacher either). How's this for a solution: upon graduation from high school you pick 3 teachers that have been the most influential in your life. 0.1% of your income thereafter (until all three have passed away) is divided amongst those teachers. With about 100 students per year, some of them presumably going on to become successful, it could add up to a fair chunk of change. Good teachers could actually earn a good wage that way (whoever Bill Gates chooses could become rich), and bad teachers would very quickly find themselves on the lower end of the income curve, perhaps making a system that actually removes bad teachers from the fold.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Glothar (53068)

            Looking back over this post, it's actually much worse than I first thought. My first response assumed that teachers would just accept this new pay mechanism and not adjust to it.

            The reality is that this would turn teaching into the worst kind of popularity competition: the kind where you're paid if you win.

            Ignoring the fact that students are notoriously horrible at judging the quality of their teachers until much later in life (and sometimes: never), and that dozens of studies have shown that students beha

      • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:13AM (#30112694) Homepage Journal

        Robing Peter to pay Paul is pointless and stupid.

        I don't see what clothing has to do with it.

        Obviously lesson plans produced at government funded public schools should be kept free and open so that they can be effectively refined and tailored for specific environments.

        Obviously? In practice unless there is an incentive for sharing there is a good chance they won't be "kept free and open", rather they will remain completely undistributed and locked up.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BrokenHalo (565198)
          The person you are replying to here is also apparently unaware that teachers often (i.e. usually) do not have sufficient time allocated during school hours to produce lesson plans. Their time is taken up with marking and other activities.

          So if they produce lesson plans and resources on their own time, there's no question of anybody being robbed. It's the teacher's own work, and s/he has the right to use or profit from it has s/he sees fit.
      • Re:*First post.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lehk228 (705449) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:13AM (#30112696) Journal
        lesson plans are generally not produced at school, typically they are created off the clock at home.
        • Re:*First post.. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:53AM (#30112866) Journal

          Here's the real issue:

          "Teachers swapping ideas with one another, that's a great thing," [Joseph McDonald, a professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University] said. "But somebody asking 75 cents for a word puzzle reduces the power of the learning community and is ultimately destructive to the profession."

          His statement roughly boils down to a desire for teachers to be the gatekeepers of knowledge.
          In my humble opinion, his point of view is ultimately destructive to the profession.
          And by "profession" I mean "teaching", not "teacher's union" which is what he seems to be worried about.

        • Re:*First post.. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Compholio (770966) on Monday November 16, 2009 @04:13AM (#30112956)

          lesson plans are generally not produced at school, typically they are created off the clock at home.

          That's not true, most courses in the US use canned lesson plans that the district pays a small fortune to obtain. My father is a school administrator (and has been for districts large and small) and I can tell you a significant portion of the budget goes to buying lesson plans*. Look into it and you'll learn that "entrepreneurs" have been making a lot of money off of educating your children.

          * On a slightly unrelated note, some districts even have policies that tell teachers they may not deviate from the lesson plans. I even know teachers that have been fired over this issue.

          • by kklein (900361) on Monday November 16, 2009 @04:59AM (#30113166)

            That's not true, most courses in the US use canned lesson plans that the district pays a small fortune to obtain. My father is a school administrator (and has been for districts large and small) and I can tell you a significant portion of the budget goes to buying lesson plans*.

            Put your dad on. I want to hear about these lesson plans they are buying.

            I think there seems to be a huge disconnect in this discussion. There is a difference between "lesson plan" and "textbook." Your dad buys textbooks and workbooks. Those are not lesson plans. Those are the seeds of lesson plans.

            Lesson plans are what the teacher does with those seeds and, in many cases, they have to supplement with stuff they've made themselves (to be honest, I'd love to work somewhere where I just follow some external lesson plan--I've never heard of such a place and again think you mean "textbook"). Teachers share this stuff around all the time, edit, and use as necessary. All these pay sites are doing is adding a little money to it, and as a teacher, I'm all for it. I don't mind kicking a little dough to a compatriot-in-arms for their good ideas, and I might even throw some stuff up there myself.

            Now, I am a university professor, so my situation is different, but if anyone asked me to sign an IP waiver that said that whatever materials I made belonged to the school, I'd laugh and walk. That is my bread and butter. Teachers are free agents; we usually move around. If something happens and we need to change jobs, we're not re-inventing a 20-year-career; we're taking the stuff we made.

            Hell, I take stuff I didn't make, but use. There's no controls on this stuff, and until it gets published (which is usually never), people do whatever they want.

            At a meeting at my last school, the head of the department responded to a question about ownership of materials we were making for the department with this, "Well, those are all property of the university, obviously." I chortled, and I was sitting right next to him. He looked at me, shocked, and I said, "where did it say that in my contract?" This was about half a second before the room erupted in a mixture of scoffing, laughter, and loud complaining.

            When the noise died down I said, "That's fine if that's what you want to do, but that is the kind of thing that would need to be stated explicitly in our contracts. There are two sides to that, of course. On the one hand, you'd be safe from anyone ever taking stuff they did here and publishing it, which might make it hard for you to use for free anymore, but on the other, well, I'm not making anything for any of my classes anymore, unless you pay me per lesson or something." No clause was ever added to the contract, and I am using a lot of the materials--some of which I didn't make--at my current job, edited for the new situation. There is no way that I could re-do those years of work while moving my career ahead. Some of that stuff is now in my permanent bag of tricks.

            So, there's how it works, and I suspect your dad would agree with me. I'm pretty sure it's you who doesn't get it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by tburkhol (121842)

              Now, I am a university professor, so my situation is different, but if anyone asked me to sign an IP waiver that said that whatever materials I made belonged to the school, I'd laugh and walk. That is my bread and butter.

              That surprises me. Most U's - certainly most research U's - do exactly that. They get first refusal on any patents, inventions, etc. They get credit on any publications (at least in the sense that you declare your affiliation, at most in the sense of acknowledging internal funding). IP may be your bread and butter, but most universities want credit for encouraging you and a slice of the pie if you make one.

              It's interesting that most times the first /. thread under a 'university/IP' thread will be how an

            • by UserChrisCanter4 (464072) * on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:18AM (#30114374)

              What he's talking about are products I've seen referred to as "scripted lesson plans," and he's correct; they're not just textbooks and workbooks, and they're not the "seeds" of lessons.

              I have never actually had to use these products in my own teaching experience, but I have seen them and we did work with some of them in my teaching classes in college. Imagine a general math concept such as fractions. There are companies who sell entire packets of lesson plans, designed to be implemented by every teacher in the district and to be used for X weeks for fractions. The packet is three hole punched so that it can be easily distributed in binder form, and really is a collection of "canned" lesson plans. The ones I encountered went so far as to break a day's worth of instruction down into a format like this:

              Warm up: 10 Mins [use warmup transparency 11a]
              Lesson: 12 Mins [use overhead transparency 11b]
              Exercise: 25 Mins [use worksheet 11c]
              Suggested homework: [worksheet 11d]
              Sample modifications for students with disabilities: X, Y, Z
              The real version is much more detailed, of course; the ones I saw for English classes typically consumed three pages for a 45 minute lesson.

              Typically, a district would purchase an entire years' worth of lessons and put teachers through extensive in-service training to discuss the proper way to implement such programs.

              It's appealing on one hand; as you probably know, planning lessons is difficult, time-consuming, and requires a lot of trial and error. I wasn't truly happy with most of my lessons until after the third or fourth time I'd taught and refined them. These products take out the guesswork. The lessons have been tested (the companies pushing them talk a lot about how much testing goes into their development), and their pacing honestly looked pretty good. On the other hand, of course, it's deeply insulting to the teachers involved; it reduces us to robots, removes the opportunities for creativity, and generally brings everyone down to the same level of mediocrity. I assume this is probably why his father's school had to go all the way to termination - if you let one person off the hook on canned lessons, then everyone will want to.

              He's right though. Such products do exist.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by edumacator (910819)

            My father is a school administrator (and has been for districts large and small) and I can tell you a significant portion of the budget goes to buying lesson plans*.

            No disrespect to your father, but most administrators think teachers use that stuff, but only the worst teachers do. I've been on several textbook adoption committees where most of the supplemental materials are purchased, and I'll tell you those lessons aren't good for the actual classroom. Those materials are to appease administrators and purc

          • I was public school teacher for several years in Maruland, and there where no canned lessons plans made available.
            I was teaching students math ( Algebra to Calculus) and Pascal. On the math side I thought it idiotic that I ( or other teachers ) had to reinvent the wheel just about every day in terms of lesson plans or ideas in how to present certain topics. I would have loved to have access plans and ideas to take as a base and adjust them to the people in my classes.
            The only time there was real access to

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by physicsphairy (720718)

          Regular teachers aren't on the clock, they're on a salary, and the lesson plan is not some optional extra they can do or not do, it is literally part of their job. Generally speaking you *must* have a lesson plan, and it must have good detail for at least the next week or two, so that if you get sick a substitute can actually take over and not just have kids lazing about for weeks while she sorts it out.

          I don't think anybody teaching wants to go the route of "all my work must be conducted during schedule

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by edumacator (910819)

            Most teachers are not on salaries, but are on an hours plus contract. Meaning we are contracted to work a minimum number of hours, but they can then make us work more. That's why teachers have to make up snow days.

          • Re:*First post.. (Score:5, Informative)

            by Glothar (53068) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:09PM (#30116282)

            Most teachers have a contracted work day (7:30pm to 3:30pm locally).

            In this area, this means that they are "on the clock" during that time and free to leave to do their own thing beyond that. They can be obligated to attend meetings beyond these hours, but only when officially scheduled. It's common for teachers to stay an hour after "contract" to work on grading or lesson plans, and its equally common for them to go home and do yet more work that night.

            Since teachers unions are outlawed here and striking is illegal, the only recourse the teachers have against abusive treatment by parents and administrators is to "Work To Contract", meaning that they work the hours they are paid for.

            This is only slightly less debilitating than a full strike. Students get cookie-cutter lessons and quickly fall behind schedule. Schools double or triple their paper usage as teachers fill students time with worksheets instead of learning activities. Assignments don't get graded. Grades don't get done on time. Sporting events are rescheduled. Plays and concerts are canceled.

            It happens every five or so years. Apparently, that's how long it takes parents to remember just how much work teachers put in beyond what their contracts say they should.

      • Re:*First post.. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by tmmagee (1475877) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:29AM (#30112764)
        Teachers are being paid to teach. They are not being paid to create lesson plans. I am not a full time teacher, but I have taught, and I can tell you that when I do I regularly use lesson plans that I have created at previous schools or in my free time when I not working for anyone (but know I will be teaching again someday down the line). And, yes, sometimes I have even downloaded plans off of the web. How could a school I teach at claim ownership over this work? In my mind this would be like club owners claiming to own the rights to any music that is played at their venues.
        • Re:*First post.. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by iamweasel (1217570) on Monday November 16, 2009 @05:24AM (#30113260)
          I'm not convinced they're paid only for teaching. I'm not payed only for writing code either, though that is the expected end result of my work. My mom used to teach and at least in this corner of the world the teachers are required to do planning work necessary to teach and are considered to be compensated for that time in their salary. Hence the extra material they create / plans should should be considered public property or at least be shared among colleagues. It's tougher for teachers just starting out with new material and gets easier once you've done planning and extra material, so you can reuse it the next course / year. At least here I would very much frown upon someone trying to profit from something they've done while being paid for it and not sharing it.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            The end result of my work is a working product. The end result of a teacher's work is an educated child. It's reasonable to claim the code I write at work as company property - not so much with the teacher.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dstates (629350)
      Professors have been writing textbooks and getting royalties for centuries. What is the big deal?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by seifried (12921)
        I suspect because we (well generally the tax payers) paid the teachers to do this work, thus it should come under the public domain or government copyright, it is in effect a work for hire [wikipedia.org].
        • Re:*First post.. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by dstates (629350) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:35AM (#30112790) Homepage
          Faculty at public universities still own their royalties. School teachers and university faculty are not so different. Both are professionals and both get tenure in most states. If a school district gave a teacher release time and specific instructions to develop a lesson plan, that would be work for hire. Much more frequently, the school district just assumes that the teacher will make preparations on their own time. In that case, it is not work for hire. If you want to pay teachers overtime for all the work they put in at home preparing for class, I am sure a lot of teachers would be happy to see the additional pay. But if the teacher does work on their own time, they should own their intellectual property.
        • Re:*First post.. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Monday November 16, 2009 @04:07AM (#30112934)

          It's not work for hire.

          If you're a music teacher hired by a school to teach students to play the instruments but you write a melody on the side on your own time the school doesn't own copyright to the song. It's a resource which you can bring to school (sheet music) and use as an educational tool.

          Lesson plans aren't the work being hired. You aren't hired to create a lesson plan, you're hired to teach children.

          Similarly if you hire me to create a house and I also manufacture a hammer off the clock you don't own my hammer. If I'm an author and I'm hired to lecture on my research the school doesn't magically inherit rights to my research because I gave a lecture. We once did work for hire and the company asked for all of our computers at the end. We just laughed all the way out the door. If you bring a monitor to work and use it instead of the small crappy corporate monitor--the company doesn't own your monitor just like it doesn't own your tie or your shirt or your shoes. You bring them to work to facilitate working. They aren't work property.

          Schools pay teachers to show up and educate students.

        • blah blah blah...

          and if you ate food off government food stamps we literally own a piece of your ass that grew from it. and if you ever drove on the road, you'd better bow down and thank us for paying for it.

          dude, nobody is getting hurt here. the kids are getting their lessons, people are willing to pay for some good ones, and the people who made them so great are gonna get paid for it.

          its not the end of the world, ya know. it's not like, say, the catholic church silencing 500 cases against them regardi

  • What questions? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JorDan Clock (664877) <jordanclock@gmail.com> on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:57AM (#30112614)
    I fail to see how this raises any questions. The teachers put effort into developing a lesson plan and deserve to do whatever they wish with that lesson plan. I work at a coffee shop and from what I've seen and talked about with the teachers that regularly spend time there, they don't do lesson plans on the clock. It's something they do mostly outside of school.

    Plus, teachers don't make a whole lot as it is. If they want to sell their expertise at putting together effective lesson plans, more power to them. In fact, I prefer this system over the traditional "do as the book provides" because it seems to the major text book publishers care more about milking schools for money than actually teaching anything. With a system like this, at least the money helps other teachers.
    • Obviously teacher pay is a problem our society has yet to deal with. But the issue of ownership of lesson plans becomes our problem when our participation in public school is coupled to material we must buy from only one provider at whatever cost they determine. That's going to lead to an economic-based difference in student performance.

      Also, my employer claims the work I do in what I'm paid to do, even if I do it after hours. Working later than 9-5 isn't unique to teachers. I think the correct way to trea

      • Re:What questions? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lehk228 (705449) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:07AM (#30112666) Journal
        they aren't charging the students, they are selling plans to other teachers. so that less experienced teachers can free up time and buy a plan for something they are having a tough time coming up with good ideas for.

        this marketplace should be very good for both new teachers needing ideas and experienced teachers with the skills to put together great lessons.
        • Re:What questions? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:14AM (#30112704) Homepage Journal

          they aren't charging the students

          Yet.

          The world needs more Open Source curricula. Let's take the resource we've already paid for and use them to help educate everyone.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by stillpixel (1575443)
            My wife is a teacher so I can speak from experience. Teachers try to find ways to keep the students interested in the course material and don't always have extra time to brainstorm up new ideas to accomplish this (they have lives too). So buying a lesson plan off another teacher isn't all that bad. It is not the information they buy, but how to present it in some way that is compelling. Basically you are marketing the course material to the student with your lesson plan... some lesson plans are better at
        • by myspys (204685) *

          But aren't the lesson plans essentially property of whoever paid the teachers for the time they used to developed said plans?

        • by inKubus (199753)

          It could cause an explosion of garbage lessons as well, if something false "goes viral". The company I work for has one facet of it's business to help teachers create lesson plans. It's a small part, but very rigorous. There are state and federal standards and guidelines that need to be met. Another aspect we do is analysing lesson plans to align them with standards. This kind of computerized matching is done sort of like a computer dating service. Obviosuly this is big stuff right now with the stimul

        • they aren't charging the students, they are selling plans to other teachers.

          It does raise one question. This question right here.

          Why should these other teachers have to pay for these lesson plans?

          Or more specifically, "Why aren't schools spending $200 per student to buy these lesson plans (that must be effective if people are buying them) instead of spending $200 per student to buy garbage books that only has different problems, so they force everyone to upgrade every 2 years?"

          We used to have a model where exceptionally talented teachers (in both teaching effectively and writing ab

        • they aren't charging the students, they are selling plans to other teachers. so that less experienced teachers can free up time and buy a plan for something they are having a tough time coming up with good ideas for.

          this marketplace should be very good for both new teachers needing ideas and experienced teachers with the skills to put together great lessons.

          I agree. I think those who have not developed great lessons will get some great ones. The access will become slightly competitive and even the better ones will be hailed and shared. Oh, and people pay a fee they are cool with for a lesson and a guy who did it so great gets paid. Cha ching. I wish I was great at something enough to sell a lesson plan at it! Whattya say I go give it a shot! Pay the mortgage with a nice one man!

          This can't make anything worse as far as I can tell. Things can really only

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by immaterial (1520413)
        Making lesson plans a work-for-hire is only going to make them more restricted. As it is now, most teachers are happy to share their work for free, and when they move from school to school or district to district, they are able to bring what works best for them with them. Once you start letting schools (or districts) consider this stuff proprietary/copyrighted information belonging to the school, they'll end up wreaking havoc (or at least trying to) trying to protect their interests whenever a teacher leave
        • Read the wikipedia entry on "Fair Use". It deals with the issue of non-profit educational use, and the fact that circuit courts aren't always letting that exception get by.

          My stance is that the material produced by public employees is public property. Sure, some legislatures are trying to copyright their own laws, but this will eventually get to a court high enough to shut it down.

    • Re:What questions? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by backwardMechanic (959818) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:15AM (#30112706) Homepage
      I fail to see how this raises any questions too. The schools pay the teachers, the lesson plans belong to the school.

      I work for a university. Any work-related ideas I come up with belong to the university. In exchange, I get paid, even when I'm not thinking of anything useful. If you write software for a living, you can't go home and sell your days coding, it belongs to your employer. It's not compulsory, it's an exchange where you get money to buy shiny things and your employer get whatever they pay you for. No different for teachers. Poor pay is a different story, and doesn't change this one.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ermon (845186)

        A disclaimer: I am a PhD student and I teach classes at the college level.

        I think the issue is not as clear cut as the parent makes it seem. While "teaching" is work for hire, at the college level in many cases you are hired to teach a specific course, often with the assumption that you have already taught it before and therefore have some experience in the matter.

        Note that this means that generally the teacher brings the lesson plan with them when they are hired. Moreover, it is common for friends and coll

      • Re:What questions? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday November 16, 2009 @04:04AM (#30112918)

        I fail to see how this raises any questions too. The schools pay the teachers, the lesson plans belong to the school.

        Unless the employment contract explicitly transfers ownership of creative works to the employer then the lesson plans legally do not belong to the school. In the world of copyrights and contracts this stuff is cut and dry, the default in all cases - including software development - is for ownership to rest with the creator, full stop.

        • Not true (Score:5, Informative)

          by langelgjm (860756) on Monday November 16, 2009 @08:40AM (#30114168) Journal

          Unless the employment contract explicitly transfers ownership of creative works to the employer then the lesson plans legally do not belong to the school.

          That's simply not true. The employment contract doesn't need to explicitly mention anything about ownership of creative works. If you are simply an "employee" as opposed to an independent contractor, your work falls under the work for hire [wikipedia.org] doctrine, and your employer owns the copyright.

          In the world of copyrights and contracts this stuff is cut and dry, the default in all cases - including software development - is for ownership to rest with the creator, full stop.

          No, it's not cut and dry. See, for example, the Community for Creative Non-Violence. [wikipedia.org] And the "default" would depend on whether you're an employee or a contractor. If you're a coder who's been hired as a salaried member for some company and that's your full time job, the "default" is probably that you're an employee and you're creating works for hire, so ownership rests with your employer, full stop.

          That said, at least at the university level, the culture is that works by professors are not works for hire. I'm not sure if there really is a sound legal basis for that (probably depends on their employment contract), but any university who tried to assert ownership over professors' work would find itself being attacked on all sides.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:01AM (#30112632) Homepage
    If teachers don't have enough money for school supplies, then we need higher taxes. Unfortunately, these days with people having children later as well as a significant minority of Americans who are very, VERY against the entire idea of humans having children (without a license from the government of course i.e. eugenics), it's really hard to push tax increases through.
    • by Entropius (188861) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:06AM (#30112660)

      What do childfree people have to do with taxes?

      I know a few childfree types, and they are all in favor of higher spending on education for everybody else's kids. I think you're tilting at a straw man here; there's no indication that people without kids are opposed to education spending.

      • by lastgoodnickname (1438821) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:13AM (#30112698)
        uh, except for all the ones who do complain, you're entirely correct.
    • ...better distribution of funds. The majority of money for schools is put into special ed instruction which leaves scraps for everyone else. The public school system is a money pit. Whenever funds are cut the administration inevitably takes it out on teachers to extort tax payers. If people would stop giving into that game and demand that schools make better use of the money they do have our eduction system would be better off.

    • by t0qer (230538)
      Why don't we fire tax wasting superintendents like this one BEFORE we raise taxes? http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_13734717 [mercurynews.com]
    • The idea that higher taxes are needed is purely ignorant of the problem. How can rural schools consistently spend less than many big cities per pupil yet turn out better educated students? It happens across the country.

      The real money problems in public education are simple.
      1. Non teaching positions, usually used to give jobs to friends and family of local lawmakers.
      2. Overly generous pay to teachers with seniority without regard to ability
      3. Over priced administrators.
      4. Ridiculous retirement packages.

      Di

      • The idea that higher taxes are needed is purely ignorant of the problem.

        At least you didn't use the "throwing money at the problem wont fix anything" canard.

        How can rural schools consistently spend less than many big cities per pupil yet turn out better educated students?

        Lower. Cost. Of. Living.

        2. Overly generous pay to teachers with seniority without regard to ability
        3. Over priced administrators.

        Yes, heaven forbid you should expect a descent salary after getting a masters degree while continuing your e

  • If not explicitly spelled out in a contract, then the IP rights are determined by the laws of the state. Most of the time, these tend to error on the side of the individual rather than the organization.

    This problem has been given plenty of exercise by coders and network admins, I doubt it's really a question anymore.

    • I think you've got it backwards. For the case of coders and network admins, the copyrighted property would be considered a work-for-hire if it concerned the task they're employed for, even if the network admin wrote it when his pager went off at 2 AM. It would be copyrighted by the company.
      • Possibly, probably. Interpretations vary by state. My main point is that the "problem" has been solved already, so question as to the work's legal status can be answered relatively simply by checking with local laws.

        I understand the outrage one might feel by the use of public funds used in such a manner, but don't share them. If it's legal within the teacher's jurisdiction, then I say good for them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:04AM (#30112650)

    The teachers developed workable lesson plans. Unless things have radically changed since I last taught, the time to develop lesson plans is probably not built into the schedule. You do that on your own time, or in a very short time period like a 30 minute 'planning period'. If the government would like to own these lesson plans then perhaps they should consider paying for the time used to develop them.

  • It's interesting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772)

    That there's no question as to who owns the materials, and teachers freely gave them away in the past. It was obvious that they belonged to the teachers. If they had belonged to the school, the teacher would have no right to give them away.

    Fast forward to today... some teacher decides to sell theirs instead of giving it away. Suddenly leading some school officials to raise questions over who owns material developed for public school classrooms.

    What's happening is greed and jealously at its fine

  • this is probably wrong on a couple of levels. First, teachers don't really have money to spend. And second, at every job I've had the employers own my work. If the teachers were doing things above and beyond what was required to do their job then maybe.

  • US Copyright laws (Score:2, Informative)

    by rechtco (516272)
    Lesson plans meet the definition of "work for hire" under US copyright laws and as such are owned by the school system or municipality unless there are express agreements giving the rights to the teachers. Teachers are employees and not third party contractors, such as many programmers, and lesson plans are within the scope of a teacher's employment. Lesson plans are the property of the school. State law is only relevant if it expressly gives the rights to the lesson plans to the teachers. Otherwise, the pl
    • What if they wrote the plan on their own time, but in support of the course? Surely you've seen, for example, a man who serves his country as a National Guardsman, and fulfills the same position as a Civilian Contract Worker when it isn't on the weekend. I've seen it many times. And so when it isn't done during the hours of when the school is gettin work off them, it is their own time and their own efforts, just like you reselling a few things on ebay.

      Stuff like that takes work! And if you go above and

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:32AM (#30112776)

    I know the bad ones copy the lesson plans out of the back of the text and are headed out the door as soon as their union obligated hours are done. The good ones spend countless hours of their own time at home, on the weekends, during winter, spring and summer break, creating new and innovative ways to engage their students.

    The best of the best pass those ideas down to other teachers, through workshops and other means.

    But, I cant fault someone for wanting to get paid for there time.

  • by rueger (210566) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:56AM (#30112882) Homepage
    Given the exorbitant, outrageous, and staggering prices that even first year post-secondary text books sell for, this doesn't seem worth a moment's thought.

    Once you've figured out how to price text books about the same as a best seller hard-cover book instead $100-200 a copy, I'll be willing to worry about teachers selling lesson plans.
  • wrong focus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday November 16, 2009 @05:28AM (#30113282) Homepage Journal

    Quite honestly, as long as it helps improve the quality of education - and making them public plus opening competition via a marketplace is likely to do that - what the fuck do you care if someone profits? Have we dropped so low already that we're jealous of the winner, even in a win-win situation?

  • Obvious (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Monday November 16, 2009 @08:09AM (#30113980) Homepage

    I'm glad this argument unfolded exactly as predicted, with "they did it on our dime" vs. "they did it on their own time" arguments abounding.

    The only thing I don't see here is a "they only work 8 months a year but get paid for the whole year, screw them" argument.

    No one, including the original article, asks whose money is being used to BUY the lesson plans.

  • by Zarniwoop (25791) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:00AM (#30114660)

    Unbelievable. Why would somebody making a sweet $34,000 after a mandated four-year education feel the need to supplement their income!

    We're paying them a fair wage for their work. Salary, so the "extra time" they spend outside of school (like they need that!) lesson planning, well, that's figured in as well.

    Those greedy bastards. Trying to afford things like food, housing and clothes.

    BTW: Google ad as I type this is Want to Teach Special Ed? Noooooooooooo. Nooo! No. No sir! No, I do not. No. Thank you.

  • You all have no idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by rlp122 (1204980) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:18AM (#30114806)
    It's laughable at the number of people here who think that teachers get time to create anything during public school hours. My wife is a third grade teacher. She spends literally all of her at work free time in meetings. Parent meetings. Administration meetings. Team meetings. She gets zero time to grade papers, produce teaching plans, or anything else at school during her regular working day. She makes a whopping $45k a year which for the Atlanta area will barely rent a one bedroom apartment and keep up a run down car. If it were not for my job we would have to move just to make ends meet. Not to mention that she has $60k of education debt @$350 a month. Plus she still has to do continuing education and pay for it out of her pocket. It takes roughly 15 to 20 hours of her time at home per week to grade papers and do lesson plans. It's just this school perhaps? Not on your life. She has worked at 4 different schools and every one of them is exactly the same. Ask any teacher, I bet you get nearly the same results. I agree the public school system is crap. But it's not the teachers fault. They have to teach what the national, state and local school board(s) tell them to teach. Not to mention that they have to try and get Johnny who doesn't speak English and is dumber than a box of hammers up to the same level as the rest of the class. For which the rest of the class suffers, because the teacher has to spend one on one time with him. Before you go bagging on how it's always the teachers fault, perhaps you should put your brain back in and actually think of who controls what the teacher does. Because they sure don't get to teach what they want to. If they did, kids might actually get a quality education.
  • by mschuyler (197441) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:35PM (#30124744) Homepage Journal

    Been there. Done that. Retired. There are a lot of unfounded assumptions in these posts. Basics if you choose teaching it will take some time and at first you won't get paid very well, but if you hang in there and get more credits, going to summer school for about ten years, you'll wind up doing okay by your mid thirties. In Seattle, a school teacher with 15 years experience (average age 37-40), with a BA, MA and +135 hours (all those summer quarters for 10 years) makes $75K (2009-2010 salary schedule) and gets summers off--because you've peaked on credits and don't need to do that any more, plus Christmas, Spring break, etc. and all the bennies you could want. Compared to private employment where you're lucky to get three weeks vacation a year that's close to $100K equivalent. But that's the big city, too.

    Smaller districts often pay a bit less, but smaller districts are ALSO in more rural areas where the cost of living is less. In many places in WA, teachers are among the highest paid folks in town. All totaled it's a pretty decent middle class lifestyle.

    Not saying it's all roses. Teaching can be a very hard job with lots of expectations from parents, lots of paperwork, and lots of extra time at night preparing for the next day. And frankly, there are lots of places I wouldn't want to be a teacher at all. You know what I mean. Also, it takes awhile to move up on the salary schedule to where you actually make ok money. The first few years can be pretty dismal.

    Retirement is pretty good. In WA a teacher with 40 years experience (25-65) would get 80% of pay plus FICA. By the time YOU retire, there might be nothing! But that's the idea. You actually would make more money retired than working: $60K retirement plus $22K FICA.

    It's one of those fields where, depending on where you are at and what you teach, it could be a GREAT job, or a piss poor one.

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