MnSCU ordered to turn over syllabi of education professors


I recently did this little radio piece, so I thought I’d put the written version on the blog:

A judge has ordered the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to give copies of course materials to an organization examining teacher-training programs.

More than a year ago, the National Council on Teacher Quality asked MnSCU schools for syllabi and other course materials for its review of more than 1,100 teacher-training programs across the nation.

MnSCU refused. It said handing over copies would violate federal copyright law, because the syllabi are the intellectual property of its professors.

But a Ramsey County court said the council’s review was a fair use of the material that did not violate the law.

Council President Kate Walsh said universities throughout the U.S. have resisted.

But she said the public has a right to know how universities train teachers.

“We’re not asking for state secrets,” she said. “We’re asking simply to tell us what it is you’re teaching teachers.”

A Ramsey County court ruled the council’s review was a fair use of the material that did not violate the law.

The council’s review, published by U.S. News & World Report, is due out next year.

Although U.S. News has rankings and evaluations of a number of graduate-school programs, she said, this will be the first of its kind for education programs.

She said, “We’re trying to give consumers much better information about the quality of training, and hopefully drive traffic, drive customers to the better schools — and away from the weaker ones.”

A MnSCU spokesman said officials there had no comment and are still studying the court order.