"Thousands of teachers are cashing 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 William Shakespeare.
While some of this extra money is going to buy books and classroom supplies in a time of tight budgets, the new teacher-entrepreneurs are also spending it on dinners out, mortgage payments, credit-card bills, vacation travel and home renovation, leading some school officials to question who owns material developed for public-school classrooms."
"Teachers Pay Teachers, one of the largest such sites, with more than 200,000 registered users, has recorded $600,000 in sales since it was started in 2006, $450,000 of that in the past year, said its founder, Paul Edelman, a former New York City teacher. The top seller, a high-school English teacher in California, has made $36,000 in sales.
"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 Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents."
The two main issues are apparent. Who "owns" a lesson and shouldn't teachers just want to help other teachers without a cost benefit?
I can see a district trying to say that their professional development aided a teacher in being better and that the development helped the teacher create a lesson. But can they prove that? Many companies make employees sign a contract that has a clause about anything created during employment at place of employment. (Of course, you could work anywhere with a laptop so that's a problem as well. Should school districts?
I note that in the story several teachers talk about using the money in their classroom but some said they used it for themselves. I see neither crime nor sin in either use.
I'm not a teacher so I don't know how teachers feel. I think that anything that you create is yours unless you had specific training. And should these lesson plans be patented? I would think it possible for two teachers worlds apart could think up the same lesson plan but who thought of it first?