A new policy by Internet trading behemoth eBay that bans homeschool teachers’ texts from its auctions is prompting a tirade of complaints from the company’s faithful customers.
“Really the homeschooling community is a huge participant in eBay when you get to thinking about it,” said one customer who was identified as ”angels*wings” on an eBay blog. “We buy textbooks naturally but we also purchase items like microscopes, slides, globes, maps, manipulatives, educational games, reading books, supplies for our classrooms … stickers, idea books, folders, sheet protectors, school supplies, software, educational movies, models, post cards … the list is enormous.”
The policy, which is inclusive of all teachers’ texts, was made known recently as those who were auctioning various books watched as their postings were deleted.
Another homeschooler on the blog said she questioned eBay when her listings were cancelled.
“They told me that it fell under their heading of ‘illegal, dangerous, offensive, or potentially infringing,'” she said. “What are they thinking? I have a mess of curriculum here that I can’t sell, and needing money from it to buy curriculum for the new school year.”
The response from the company was posted for others to see.
“As you may know, eBay does not permit items that are illegal, dangerous, offensive, or potentially infringing. Additionally, eBay has just recently made the decision to prohibit the sale of Teacher’s Editions of textbooks and solutions manuals that are intended solely for use by teachers. Since eBay strives to be a level-playing field, all Teacher’s Edition textbooks, manuals and guides will be covered under this policy. Unfortunately, home schooling Teacher’s Editions are not exempt from this policy and this policy will apply to all grade levels.”
The company continued that those products often contain “special answer keys, exams, teaching tips, and guides.”
And, it noted, “multiple organizations and publishers have voiced their concern to us over such books that may only be purchased through educational institutions by teachers.”
“Where do they get off telling me that I don’t have the right to buy, sell, or own a teacher’s manual??? How could I teach my children without it???” another blogger asked.
Still another reported having a few 2006 teachers’ edition textbooks for college classes pulled from the site.
“Now I’m stuck with them,” the writer said.
“We are a major buying and selling force on eBay & once I got to thinking of all the things we purchase just for ourselves and our school it’s amazing,” said Angelwings. “I’m in the same boat as many of you….I’ve got three grade levels of books here I need to sell in order to purchase our supplies for next year.”
WorldNetDaily did not get an immediate response from eBay about the situation. The website accepts e-mail questions but responds in 24-48 hours.
Its website explanation is straightforward.
“Teacher’s editions of textbooks and solutions manuals that are intended solely for use by teachers are not permitted by eBay.”
And it notifies users that “listing cancellation, forfeit of eBay fees on cancelled listings, limits on account privileges, account suspension” are all possible results.
“As a homeschooler I believe this directly discriminates against me since I have used Ebay numerous times to both buy and sell homeschool curricula. As a budget conscious homeschooling mother I like to buy used materials as often as possible. This means buying the teacher’s materials used on Ebay and purchasing new workbooks directly from the publisher or distributor,” Dana wrote.
eBay did offer a recourse for further concerns:
“We appreciate the fact that you may disagree with eBay’s decision to establish this policy. If you would like to see these policies change, or have suggestions on how to make the site better, you may want to submit your feelings by completing the form at the following URL.”
eBay’s overview of prohibited items includes animals, artifacts, autographed items, academic software, bootleg recordings, credit cards, drugs and paraphernalia, government IDs, lockpicking devices, human remains, police-related items, used clothing and used cosmetics, among others.
One blogger noted that public school interests have been opposing homeschooling more and more, as homeschooling has grown substantially in recent years. Recent estimates have put homeschool attendance in the U.S. at more than 2.5 million. And the same comment noted book publishers also dislike having the products re-sold.
A public school teacher defended the policy, saying she cannot get a teacher’s edition from a publisher unless she provides proof of her teaching employment. “It is quite costly for publishers to research and develop curricula and it is copyrighted.”
But there also are other auctions that do allow the sale of homeschool texts. One location, which does require purchasers to be 18, is Schoolbookauction.com. Another one is Homeschoolbid.com and observers said there are many more available through an Internet search.
The Home School Legal Defense Association said it was aware of the situation.
“We have received many complaints about the eBay policy and we are actively working on a solution,” Media Relations Director Ian Slatter told WND. That group is the largest organization of homeschoolers in the United States, with more than 80,000 member families.
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