Teachers spend countless hours creating lesson plans, which I continue to believe constitute intellectual property. Yet teachers generally receive no remuneration for their work beside their salaries (“A Sharing Economy Where Teachers Win,” The New York Times, Sep. 5). That’s because in 2004 a federal appellate court in New York held that tests, quizzes, homework problems, and other teaching materials are “works made for hire” and are owned by the school district (“Selling Lessons Online Raises Cash and Questions,” The New York Times, Nov. 14, 2009).
The situation has changed over time. The latest evidence is seen in the existence of TeachersPayTeachers.com, which provides a virtual marketplace where teachers can buy and sell their lesson plans. The Common Core state standards have been a boom for the site because teachers are eager to find lessons that have worked. As a result, it’s profited all stakeholders: teachers, students and administrators.
When I was teaching, department meetings and conventions were the only ways to share effective lesson plans. But they were exchanged without any expectation of financial remuneration. It’s encouraging that teachers now have a marketplace for their hard work and creativity. Exempt from the original court ruling on the matter is still material that is explicitly intended for publication. In other words, if teachers write a book or an op-ed, they own the material. Otherwise, what teachers produce exclusively for classroom use is owned by the school district that employs them.
The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.