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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Teachers Buy and Sell Lesson Plans on; Some Make More Than $1million

 A great idea, now an app on iphone. $1.00 a lesson plan.

Betsy Combier
President, ADVOCATZ
Laura Randazzo

A Sharing Economy Where Teachers Win

What kind of tunes do you think Iago, the villain in William Shakespeare’s “Othello,” would listen to if he had an iPhone?
That is the kind of question that Laura Randazzo, an exuberant English teacher, often dreams up to challenge her students at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif.

So, when Ms. Randazzo heard about, a virtual marketplace where educators can buy and sell lesson plans, she was curious to find out whether the materials she had created for her own students would appeal to other educators.
A couple of years ago, she started posting items, priced at around $1, on the site. Her “Whose Cell Phone Is This?” fictional character work sheet has now sold more than 4,000 copies.

“For a buck, a teacher has a really good tool that she can use with any work of literature,” Ms. Randazzo said in a phone interview last week. “Kids love it because it’s fun. But it’s also rigorous because they have to support their characterizations with evidence.”
She clearly has a knack for understanding the kinds of classroom aids that other teachers are looking for. One of her best-selling items is a full-year collection of high school grammar, vocabulary and literature exercises. It has generated sales on TeachersPayTeachers of about $100,000.

Speaking from her tiny home office, formerly a bedroom closet, Ms. Randazzo still sounded amazed at her success.
“What started out as a hobby has turned into a business,” she said.

Teachers often spend hours preparing classroom lesson plans to reinforce the material students are required to learn, and many share their best materials with colleagues. Founded in 2006, TeachersPayTeachers speeds up this lesson-plan prep work by monetizing exchanges between teachers and enabling them to make faster connections with farther-flung colleagues.
As some on the site develop sizable and devoted audiences, is fostering the growth of a hybrid profession: teacher-entrepreneur. The phenomenon has even spawned its own neologism: teacherpreneur.

Adam Freed
To date, Teacher Synergy, the company behind the site, has paid about $175 million to its teacher-authors, says Adam Freed, the company’s chief executive. The site takes a 15 percent commission on most sales.
A former chief operating officer of Etsy and former director of international product management at Google, Mr. Freed is a veteran of data-driven growth companies. By selling tens of thousands of items, he says, 12 teachers on the site have become millionaires and nearly 300 teachers have earned more than $100,000. On any given day, the site has about 1.7 million lesson plans, quizzes, work sheets, classroom activities and other items available, typically for less than $5. Last month alone, Mr. Freed added, more than one million teachers in the United States downloaded material, including free and fee-based products, from the site.

“If you have a kid in school in America, they are interacting somewhere with TeachersPayTeachers’ content,” Mr. Freed said in an interview last week at the company’s headquarters in Manhattan.
Mr. Freed took the helm of Teacher Synergy in 2014. One of his first tasks was to bring the technology behind the homespun company up to date without introducing radical changes that might upset its following. That goal has become more urgent now that TES Global, a British company with its own teacher-to-teacher marketplace, has entered the American market.

Last week, for instance, TeachersPayTeachers introduced an iPhone app from which educators can buy materials. The app replaced an older version that allowed users to look up products but, oddly enough, not to purchase them.
“We were not a technology company until very recently. We were a teaching marketplace with a technology underlay,” Mr. Freed said. “Now we are trying to be both.”

The site’s popularity with teachers reflects the convergence of a number of trends in education and technology.
For one thing, school districts around the country have been introducing new learning objectives, called Common Core state standards, for different grade levels. That has sent tens of thousands of educators to TeachersPayTeachers looking for lessons to reinforce particular math and reading standards — like the requirement that sixth graders and older students be able to delineate and evaluate the argument in a given text.

“It’s a matter of understanding what the standards are and figuring out how to get the students to perform to those standards,” says Erin Cobb, a middle-school reading teacher in Lake Charles, La., whose Common Core-aligned teaching materials have had sales of more than $1 million on TeachersPayTeachers.
At a time when many politicians, technology executives and philanthropists are pushing novel digital tools for education, many teachers are also seeking old-school offline techniques that other teachers have perfected over the years in their classrooms. That has positioned TeachersPayTeachers as a kind of Etsy for education.

“A lot of the stuff you see in the digital world that is interactive, teachers are making them in analog form,” Mr. Freed said, noting that many teacher-to-teacher products are PDF or zip files meant to be downloaded and printed out.
As an example, he cited an “Interactive Reading Literature Notebook,” developed by Ms. Cobb. In her lesson plans, “interactive” does not refer to digital video or audio. It means students are asked to actively learn by, in part, cutting out and gluing assignments into their notebooks, taking deep notes in class and sometimes even drawing illustrations to demonstrate that they understood the reading.

“There’s a lot of creativity and innovation,” Mr. Freed said, “but it is tried and true in a lot of its methodology.”
For teachers, building a successful business on TeachersPayTeachers may also entail a lot of work.

To draw attention to the tools she developed for TeachersPayTeachers, for instance, Ms. Randazzo, the English teacher, started a teaching blog where she recounts her experiences or highlights resources she finds interesting. She also recently started a YouTube channel in response to requests from other teachers who asked her to demonstrate how to teach complicated concepts like irony.
She added that many teachers considered TeachersPayTeachers credible because they can find ideas from more experienced teachers who face the same classroom challenges they do.

“That is what ground-level teachers are able to do that textbook publishers can’t,” Ms. Randazzo said.

Washington State Chief Justice Barbara Madsen Rules That Charter Schools Are Unconstitutional

Chief Justice Barbara Madsen

Great job, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen!! Judge Madsen ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional because there is no vote by the public on the allocation of public money:

"Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that charter schools aren't "common schools" because they're governed by appointed rather than elected boards.

Therefore "money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools," Madsen wrote."

Judge Madsen put into words what we at ADVOCATZ have been saying since Michael Cardozo and Mike Bloomberg took away Constitutional rights in NYC by appointing all members of the NYC so-called 'school board', the Panel For Educational Policy.

I posted the manifesto on my website and re-posted the documents many times since then, and the posting has been on the home page of my website since 2007. Look in the postings for the Michael Cardozo letter to the US Department of Justice:
 Michael Cardozo's introduction to his submission which removes the constitutional rights of NYC citizens
Pages index -11
Pages 12-25
Pages 26-41
Pages 42-58
Pages 59-80

Editorial: The New York City Department of Education is a Sham and Mike Bloomberg is the Flim-Flam Man

Supreme Court Rules Washington Charter Schools Are Unconstitutional
Washington Education Association news release, 9/4/15
Contact: Rich Wood, 253-376-1007

Supreme Court rules Washington charter schools are unconstitutional

Public school educators are applauding the Washington Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision ruling that the state’s charter school law is unconstitutional because charters siphon money from public schools and are not accountable to local voters.

The court ruled Washington’s entire charter school law is unconstitutional.

“The Supreme Court has affirmed what we’ve said all along – charter schools steal money from our existing classrooms, and voters have no say in how these charter schools spend taxpayer funding,” said Kim Mead, president of the Washington Education Association.

Along with El Centro de la Raza, the Washington Association of School Administrators and the League of Women Voters, WEA is part of the coalition that challenged the charter school law.

The court ruled that charter schools do not meet the definition of “common schools” under the constitution because they are not subject to local voter control, and therefore the state cannot spend common school funding on charter schools.

“Under the Act, charter schools are devoid of local control from their inception to their daily operation,” the court wrote.

Mead said the court ruling is another reminder of the state Legislature’s failure to fully fund basic education as required by the state Constitution. The Supreme Court is currently fining the Legislature $100,000 a day for failing to develop a plan for fully funding K-12 education as required by the court’s McCleary decision.

“Instead of diverting taxpayer dollars to unaccountable charter schools, it’s time for the Legislature to fully fund K-12 public schools so that all of Washington’s children get the quality education the Constitution guarantees them,” Mead said.

Washington state Supreme Court rules that charter schools are unconstitutional

SEATTLE — After nearly a year of deliberation, Washington state's Supreme Court ruled 6-3 late Friday afternoon that charter schools are unconstitutional.

The ruling overturns the law voters narrowly approved in 2012 allowing publicly funded, but privately operated, schools.

Eight new charter schools are opening in Washington this fall in addition to one that opened in Seattle last year.

It was not immediately known what would happen with charter schools that have already enrolled students.

The parties will have 20 days to ask the court for reconsideration before the ruling becomes final.

Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that charter schools aren't "common schools" because they're governed by appointed rather than elected boards.

Therefore "money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools," Madsen wrote.

The ruling is a victory for the coalition that filed the suit in July 2013, asking a judge to declare the law unconstitutional for "improperly diverting public-school funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control."

The Washington Education Association was joined by the League of Women Voters of Washington, El Centro de la Raza, the Washington Association of School Administrators and several individual plaintiffs.

"The Supreme Court has affirmed what we've said all along — charter schools steal money from our existing classrooms, and voters have no say in how these charter schools spend taxpayer funding," said Kim Mead, president of the Washington Education Association said in a prepared statement.

Immediate reaction from the state attorney general's office and the state commission that authorizes charter schools was not available.

David Postman, communications director for Gov. Jay Inslee, said the governor's office is reviewing the court's decision and will consult with the attorney general's office.

"But until we have a thorough analysis we can't say what that means for schools operating today," Postman said. "The Supreme Court has remanded the case for 'an appropriate order' and we will have to see what the lower court fashions to comply with the Supreme Court's opinion."

Tom Franta, leader of the Washington State Charter Schools Association, said he was waiting to hear back from the nonprofit's attorney to find out what happens next.

"We haven't had a chance to debrief the opinion with attorneys, with what does happen next with the schools that are open," he said. There are 1,200 children enrolled in eight charter schools, and all but one — First Place in Seattle — has already opened for the school year, he said.

GOP state Rep. Chad Magendanz, ranking member on the House Education Committee, said he was stunned by the decision.

"I'm shocked, I'm worried about the political aspects about this," said Magendanz. The court is becoming too much of "a political animal," said Magendanz, a supporter of charter schools as a way to promote competition and innovation.

Under the 2012 law, up to 40 new charter schools could have opened in Washington over a five-year period.

(Times staff reporter Joseph O'Sullivan contributed to this report.)