If your child brings home artwork you want to reprint on a mug, or a poetry series you may want to publish some day, think again. Your county school system may own the copyright. At least that’s what a new proposal by the Prince George’s County, Maryland Board of Education would do. Approved by a vote of 8 to 1 last month, this rule says that the school board owns work done by the school system’s staff and students–even if it’s done on their own time. The school system says it is only trying to protect its interest in digital apps developed by teachers on school-owned iPads.
Even so, I find this proposal a major over-reach.
It’s not unusual for universities to have policies of sharing in the intellectual property developed by faculty members, particularly patented inventions, drugs and medical discoveries. To me it seems odd, though, to take this practice into the K-12 educational environment, where teachers don’t get susbstantial income from grants or publications as do their colleagues in higher ed. And if a teacher does develop a great educational app for their class and sells it (and one would expect there would be development and marketing costs associated with that), why shouldn’t they reap the benefits?
It’s even stranger to suggest that work done by students–whether in school or at home–would somehow belong to the school system. Particularly when it is a public education system paid for by those very families!
At the very least, the whole proposal seems antithetical to the mission and values of an educational system–to encourage creative and Innovative thinking. Maybe I’m missing something here. What do you think? Feel free to post comments here and also email your thoughts to the PG County Board of Ed firstname.lastname@example.org and the Superintendent of schools email@example.com.