Teachers sell lesson plans

Teachers are selling lesson plans online, reports the New York Times.

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 even home renovation, leading some school officials to raise questions over who owns material developed for public school classrooms.

I see no reason teachers shouldn’t profit from their ingenuity. But some districts are trying to bar teachers from profiting from lesson plans, the Times reports. It also quotes an NYU prof, Joseph McDonald, who says “online selling cheapens what teachers do and undermines efforts to build sites where educators freely exchange ideas and lesson plans.”

So teachers who create value are obliged to give it away? I don’t see it.

Commercial sites include Teachers Pay Teachers and We Are Teachers, which offers lesson plans and online tutoring.

Lisa Michalek, 40, who taught for six years in Rochester and now works for Aventa Learning, a for-profit online education company, said she spent about five hours a week tweaking old lesson plans and creating new ones, like an earth science curriculum that sells for $59.95.

“I knew I had good lessons, so I thought, ‘Why not see what other people think of it?’ ” Ms. Michalek said.

After $31,000 in sales, she has her answer. Alice Coburn, 56, a vocational education teacher in Goshen, N.Y., said she saved two to three hours each time she downloaded Ms. Michalek’s PowerPoint presentations instead of starting from scratch. “I hate reinventing the wheel,” Ms. Coburn said.

While some teachers spend their lesson-plan profits on classroom supplies, others spend the money on themselves. After all, they did the work.

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