Archive for the 'Law' Category

A Disappointing Court Ruling on School Finance

June 30th, 2017 by Robert Lowry

In 2014, the Council of School Superintendents joined New Yorkers for Students’ Educational Rights (NYSER), a coalition bringing a lawsuit alleging that then recent state actions in school finance violated the state constitution’s Education Article, as interpreted in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) decisions issued by the state’s highest court in 1995, 2003, and 2006.

NYSER’s suit argued that, by failing to follow through on the implementation the Foundation Aid formula and other reforms enacted following the final ruling in the CFE case, the state has been denying schoolchildren the opportunity for a sound basic education as promised in its constitution.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, ruled the NYSER’s claims that students in New York City and Syracuse are being denied the opportunity for a sound basic education could go to trial and that NYSER could rely upon the CFE decision in its arguments.

But the decision is nonetheless disappointing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance, Law | Comments Off on A Disappointing Court Ruling on School Finance

Teachers selling lessons online — a good idea?

November 15th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

Today’s (Sunday, Nov. 15) New York Times has a front page article about the propriety of teachers selling lesson plans online, and whether their schools should share in any earnings.

I’m quoted near the top of the article:  “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.”

The article has provoked an impressive volume of comments, many from teachers taking offense at the thought that a district would stake a claim to any earnings.  One called the idea “creepy.”  A blogger called me a “greedy – – – – – – -.”

A few comments took a different perspective, questioning the ethics of teachers either selling or purchasing lesson plans.

When the reporter contacted me, I said the issue had never come up in any of my interactions with superintendents, or anyone else.

I’m careful with words and meant nothing more or less than what the reporter faithfully quoted me as saying:  it’s fair to ask what would be a fair division of proceeds.  I also noted that initiative and resourcefulness deserve to be rewarded.  So it might be fair for a teacher to keep all earnings in at least some cases.

I mentioned to the reporter that higher education institutions have already wrestled with and resolved similar issues, then today looked up one example of a university policy.

The State University of New York Intellectual Property Policy provides, “Generally the members of the staff of the university shall retain all rights to copyright and publish written works produced by them.”

It goes on to say,

Staff members will be expected not to allow the privilege to write and retain the right to their work to interfere with their university duties. In those cases where an author desires the help of university facilities, arrangements should be made through the administrative staff of the author’s institution in advance with respect to the assistance which may be appropriately given and the equity of the university in the finished work.

The SUNY policy also makes an exception for cases where persons “are employed or directed within the scope of their employment to produce specific work.”

In those cases, “the university shall have the right to publish such work without copyright or to copyright it in its own name.”  Also, “The copyright will also be subject to any contractual arrangements by the university for work in the course of which the writing was done.”

The plain language of the SUNY policy seems reasonable.  But some aspects do require interpretation.

For example, one might interpret the preparation of lesson plans and lecture notes as something faculty are employed or directed to produce “within the scope of their employment.”  But my understanding is that, within SUNY, such items are generally deemed intellectual property of the employee.

Category: Finance, Law, Teachers | Comments Off on Teachers selling lessons online — a good idea?

U.S. Supreme Court decides three high profile education cases

June 29th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

As it concludes its current term, the U.S. Supreme Court announced decisions in three high profile education cases last week.

The decisions involve school reimbursement to families making unilateral special education placements, strip searches of students under suspicion of drug possession, and requirements for services to English language learners.

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Law | Comments Off on U.S. Supreme Court decides three high profile education cases