The proposal is part of a broader policy the board is reviewing that would provide guidelines for the "use and creation" of materials developed by employees and students. The boards' staff recommended the policy largely to address the increased use of technology in the classroom.
Board Chair Verjeana M. Jacobs said she and Vice Chair Carolyn M. Boston attended an Apple presentation and learned how teachers can use apps to create new curricula. The proposal was designed to make it clear who owns teacher-developed curricula created while using apps on iPads that are school property, Jacobs said.
It's not unusual for a company to hold the rights to an employee's work, copyright policy experts said. But the Prince George's policy goes a step further by saying that work created for the school by employees during their own time and using their own materials is the school system's property.
Kevin Welner, a professor and director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said the proposal appears to be revenue-driven. There is a growing secondary online market for teacher lesson plans, he said.
"I think it's just the district saying, 'If there is some brilliant idea that one of our teachers comes up with, we want be in on that. Not only be in on that, but to have it all,' " he said.
Welner said teachers have always looked for ways to develop materials to reach their students, but "in the brave new world of software development, there might be more opportunity to be creative in ways that could reach beyond that specific teacher's classroom."
Still, Welner said he doesn't see the policy affecting teacher behavior.
"Within a large district, there might be some who would invest a lot of time into something that might be marketable, but most teachers invest their time in teaching for the immediate need of their students and this wouldn't change that," he said.