Should Teachers Earn Extra Income from the Curriculum they Develop?
With the dawn of online market places for teachers to share and sell the curriculum they develop to enhance teaching lessons, there is some controversy about whether or not teachers should earn income from these endeavors. Another point to ponder, are the demands of the job so great that teachers cannot continually develop material for every lesson, throughout the day, week, month or school year? Textbooks fall short on engagement and meeting the needs of the diverse learner. A curriculum director once said, “Won’t it be great when teachers won’t have to supplement anymore?” However, teachers are expected to meet the needs and levels of every student under their charge without school sponsored materials for support. Teachers have historically burned the midnight oil to develop or purchased materials out of pocket to meet the needs of their students. When some are saying teachers should not profit from creating materials, they are calling teacher professionalism into question.
Teacher Professionalism “Teachers who represent the best in profession and set the highest standard for best practice.” Wise (1989) describes professional teachers as those who have a firm grasp of the subjects they teach and are true to the intellectual demands of their disciplines. They are able to analyze the needs of the students for whom they are responsible. They know the standards of practice of their profession. They know that they are accountable for meeting the needs of their students. Are the Common Core Standards driving teachers to seek materials from their colleagues? Are teachers skeptical that purchased programs will align to the standards as promised? Can textbook publishers meet the demands for rich resources now? A national survey quoted by Education Week Research Center showed educators are not sure all resources created by publishers align to the Common Core, they have more trust with fellow teacher created materials.
The Common Core outlines where students should be at the end of the year, but not the steps to get there. Teachers have the big picture and develop lessons to get to mastery. Some folks say, teachers need to collaborate so all students are learning the same material and with best practices. Many of the items online are free and there are lesson-sharing websites as well. Critics have said that it may be a legal issue if teachers are getting paid to teach—they shouldn’t also be getting compensated for producing lessons as part of their regular work, even if it is on their own time. Does the school or school district have a right to profits? For too long teachers have been held to high expectations with no materials to support this superior teaching. Teachers are professionals and will get the job done to the best of their ability, but shouldn’t they be compensated for the above and beyond creative work that districts do not provide for students in the way of materials? When a teacher starts a new year they usually get a classroom, with maybe a few bookshelves, teacher desk and chair, student desks and chairs, a few tables, some technological equipment, texts some school/office supplies. That is it! Everything else, teachers make or buy usually with little or no compensation. Cute bulletin boards: teacher created! Classroom library: teacher purchase! Attractive curtains, comfy chairs, pillows or rug: teacher purchase and create! Supplies for kiddos who don’t bring any: teacher purchase! Bins and organizational systems: you guessed it, teacher purchase! The list goes on…teachers are taken for granted and most people do not even realize how much each teacher spends to support education. A parent visiting the classrooms for open house went into a new teacher’s room and said, “Is that it, are you ready for the school year?” (the teacher had worked very hard to make the room inviting and ready for learning). The parent then enters the classroom of a veteran teacher and says, ”This is more like it, this room looks great! How long did it take you to get your classroom to look like this?” The teacher replied, “About thirty-four years!” The news flash, this parent is a high school teacher!
Many teachers have to get a second job to make ends meet because the teaching salary is low. Huffington Post reported Seattle Public Schools prohibits teachers selling materials created during work time. Teresa Wippel from Seattle Public Schools, was quoted to say that “teachers are prohibited from selling anything created on district time.” Since it is unclear if it was made during free time or work time, it could be up for dispute. Teachers do not have a lot of free time! When they are at school beyond contracted time or at home and still working on lessons and activities for school, they are not getting fairly compensated for this important work!
Furthermore, Robert Lowry, deputy director of the NY State Council of School Superintendents discussed the issue of the extent district resources were used to create the materials. Professional development may have helped a teacher create the lessons for sale. Two issues: who owns the lesson and should teachers help other teachers without making a profit?
Teachers are working beyond contract hours to educate America. Let them use their education to create amazing lessons, and to carefully select superior lessons that meet their students’ needs from other professionals to engage today’s learners.