It's teacher hunting season!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Copyright infringement by media mogul mayor: Shame of the City Dept of Ed - no textbooks in the home

New York City students are behind the state norm, behind national ideals, in terms of performance or ability, with concern to literacy, graduation rates and so on.

One would think that there would be an interest to have textbooks in the students' homes. However, we are in an era in which the city and national media ignore egregious policies under mayor Michael Bloomberg and the out-going chancellor Joel Klein.

How would the public react to the issue of no texts in many students; homes, if this issue made it to the top of news stories, if it got the attention that it deserves?

It has become apparent that since the beginning of mayoral control of New York City schools there has been a general policy to rarely issue textbooks to students for home use. Just speak to teachers about how the situation in 2010, compared to 2002, to confirm this allegation.

Under mayoral control many critical issues are not addressed publicly in the media, let alone discussed in the messy world of public democratic debate. Perhaps owing to the failure of some students to return books at the end of a school year, nearly all high schools, according to my wide-ranging contacts, textbooks are not being issued to schools. This situation extends to the elementary and middle schools.

Yes, there are problems with textbooks. They can be biased. They can be simplistic or they can ignore aspects of issues that instructors think are critical. But teachers cannot compose everything. And textbooks can provide a level of topic authority, which can be of great use to students at home.

And so under the BloomKlein regime, progressive education's zeal for social unorthodoxy (criticism of textbooks -the no-textbooks principal Andrew Buck is the epitome of such thinking), combined with bottomline businesspeople's zeal for being cheap, have merged to create a force against textbooks.

So we ask "Is there books in our children's homes?" I googled the pertinent keywords and I only found an April 2002 study, by then New York State Assemblyman Scott Stringer's office, "READING IS FUNDAMENTAL:
that looked into the problem of inadequate purchases of textbooks. It is sad that New York State came behind other states in textbook purchases, and New York City fell far behind other cities in the state. But tragically, this study shows the situation in 2002, before BloomKlein created this general policy against textbook issuance. A study today would show a far worse situation.

What do administrators council as an alternative? What do teachers do to compensate for the situation? PHOTOCOPY. Numerous schools have on-site staff assigned exclusively to photocopying for teachers.
But this is blatant violation of federal copyright laws.
From Stringer's report:

Textbook shortages force teachers to make tough choices. Sometimes, when faced with the prospect of not assigning homework or not distributing an in-class reading assignment because there are not enough books for each student, a teacher will photocopy the material and hand it out. To reproduce copyrighted material for the purpose of distribution in an attempt to evade purchase of that material is a violation of the United States copyright law. The legislative history of the Copyright Act of 1976 endorsed the following guidelines:25

Notwithstanding any of the above, the following shall be prohibited:
1. Copying shall not be used to create or to replace or substitute for anthologies, compellations or collective works. Such replacement or substitution may occur whether copies of various works or excerpts there from are accumulated or reproduced and used separately.
2. There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or of teaching. These include workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets and answer sheets and like consumable material.
3. Copying shall not:
1. substitute for the purchase of books, publishers' reprints or periodicals;
2. be directed by higher authority;
3. be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.
4. No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.

Sections 107 and 108 of title 17 of the United States Code, outline fair use exemptions to copyright protections. There are situations where a teacher may photocopy entire articles, passages, or segments of textbooks provided the copying meets the tests of brevity, spontaneity and cumulative effect.26

The test of brevity requires the copied material to be either:
1. a poem of under 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages or essay from a longer poem, an excerpt of not more than 250 words;
2. a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words or an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less, but in any event a minimum of 500 words.

The test of spontaneity demands that:
1. the copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher, and
2. the inspiration and decision to use the work and the moment of its use for maximum teaching effectiveness are so close in time that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission.

The cumulative effect test requires that:
1. The copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.
2. Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, nor more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term.
3. There shall be no more than 9 instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term.

What an outrageous act of hypocrisy!!! The textbook publishers are being cheated, with official sanction (in apparent contravention against obligation from "higher authority"). Yet, we have a mayor, Michael Bloomberg, whose entire fortune rests on being a media titan over Bloomberg News and Bloomberg media. We have an outgoing chancellor, Joel Klein, that has gone through a revolving door, from Bertelsmann Media (BMG) (before the NYC Dept. of Education), to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, publisher of The New York Post, which has its raison d'etre practically existing in attacking public education in the city. We have an incoming chancellor, Cathie Black (which the media and the former mayors all tout as most deserving of a waiver from State Education Commissioner David Steiner), a figure that has been an executive at the Hearst Corporation, one of the country's most powerful magazine publisher.
But then, we're in a time in which the media and public generally see the emperor's new clothes, but some of us really see a naked fraud who relies on cheating and deception to put forward a myth of educational advancement. Will CFE, New Action or GEM come to the fore and call the mayor and the DOE on this shame of the city? Is the mayor above federal copyright law?
Where are the kids' textbooks?


  1. I have been doing day to day substitute teaching and in the high school I am working in NO students have textbooks at home for reference. This is outrageous as many of the classes are regents level and without a text for homework or reference the numbers passing will no doubt be hindered. Schools receive separate allocations NYSTL monies for new and replacement textbooks. This is another example of the DOE not just breaking copyright laws, but breaking childrens and parents hearts.

  2. Thanks for your post comment.
    Great point about the Regents. How are teachers, schools and students to be judged for Regents scores when students are deprived of textbooks?
    The point about the NYSTL funding is instructive. Perhaps DoE bigs, above the principals, are suggesting the principals to dip into the NYSTL funds to balance their budgets? Is this the kind of business acumen that Bloomberg/Klein/Black are introducing to schools?