Should Teachers Be Allowed to Sell Their Lesson Plans?

Last week Andrew Rotherham from Time magazine wrote about whether teachers should be able to sell their lesson plans. He talks about kindergarten teacher Deanna Jump, who has made more than one million dollars selling her lesson plans online. That is what teachers are looking for, since the new Common Core standards are in effect; textbooks lack the information teachers need in their lesson plans.

Since teachers need new information, many websites have popped up around the web to enable sharing such as BetterLesson (which in June signed up its 100,000th teacher), American Federation of Teachers’ Share Site, TeachersPayTeachers, and TES Connect. Rotherham writes:

Standards and testing may hog the spotlight in education, but they spell out only what students should be able to do, not how to get kids to learn those skills. Lesson plans are teachers’ tools: lend someone a better hammer, and he’ll do a better job. But a lousy carpenter can’t fake it even with the greatest tools money can buy, and the lesson plans that come with textbooks often aren’t very engaging or aren’t in line with the Common Core State Standards that 45 states recently agreed to adopt. There’s a lot of concern among teachers about meeting these standards, particularly since more states have started tying teachers’ evaluations to their students’ performance…

That may sound like a raw deal until you think about what’s been happening in higher education, where more and more colleges are getting professors to put their syllabus and, more recently, videos of their lectures online. But it’s a new frontier in the long insulated K-12 world. And as a legal matter, it’s not cut and dry: if teachers produce a lesson as part of their regular work, even if it’s on their own time, does their school or school district have any right to profits from it? In 2004 a federal court in New York said yes. Look for more litigation as the money involved with these sites grows.

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