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Re: [school-discuss] Slaves to Microsoft

where's your nearest linux user group? what's going on in local colleges? who in the parent community is sympathetic with lower costs, greater benefit, *nix in general? instant demos and proof of some concepts are available with "live" CDs such as Knoppix, Ubuntu, Mepis, Taos.... nearby your district there are certainly moderately large IT centers that are Sun, linux, IBM, HP, and other-nix based--perhaps their managers are in your community of parents or willing to speak to parent-teacher groups about their employment needs. Job listings should show *nix skills are in demand.

   I think you've got it right: those in charge are lazy,
which to be charitable comes from being overworked
or faced with an unreasonable range of responsibilities.
Learning new technologies is not attractive to them. but
being heros probably is, so present opportunities that
solve problems (lower costs, better preparation for
good-paying jobs...) and avoid non-mainstream
perceptions of manic revolutionaries and weirdos: i.e.
tailor your sales pitch accordingly.

hope it helps

On Apr 1, 2006, at 9:51 AM, Joel Kahn wrote:

I can strongly sympathize with the ideas expressed by
Jason in his posting of 3-30-06. I run the computer
lab at a primary school (K-2) located somewhere in the
Midwestern United States. (All exact locations, names,
&c, will be kept confidential. You will see why.) The
entire district is standardized on Windows XP
Professional. The decision-makers here have told me
pretty explicitly that they view "technology
education" as being the process of training young
people to live and work in a world in which Microsoft
will be making all of the significant tech-related
decisions for everyone forever and ever. As near as I
can tell, this attitude seems to be primarily the
product of a prevailing bureaucratic laziness: if they
don't have to think about anything besides Windows, MS
Office, and directly compatible programs, they don't
have to make too many tough choices. Slavery is
convenient; teaching the students to be slaves helps
to maintain this convenience.

I have successfully installed three different Linux
distros on three different old computers I have at
home. At the same time, my limited and tentative
efforts to discuss GPL and open-source software with
the school district higher-ups have been met with
consistently negative reactions. It seems clear that
pushing the issue too hard would get me fired, which
is also what I would expect to happen if it was
discovered by the wrong people that I posted this
message on this list.

During the summer break in 2005, the school district
got together the money for a major upgrade to the lab
that I run. The computer on which I'm typing this
message has a 3.4 Ghz Pentium 4 HT processor and one
gig of RAM; the other twenty-five computers in this
lab, the ones for student use, each have a 2.8 Ghz P4
HT and 512MB of RAM. All of the user data storage is
done on a 400GB network drive that has at least 90% of
its space still free. Our network speed is
*fast*--when things are working right, we can stream
online videos in ways that you have to see to believe.

According to the info that I received when I was doing
our most recent inventory, the cost of all the new
computers in this lab came to about US$33,000 (yes,
that's thirty-three thousand United States dollars).
Those of you with the appropriate Linux experience can
figure out what kind of large-scale thin-client
environment could be put together for that kind of
money. Instead, we have a vast gap between the quality
of the new lab and what is happening in the rest of
the school. Most of the classrooms in the building in
which I work have only one computer in the room, and
that one is usually relatively old (although they have
been upgraded enough to more-or-less run WinXP). Each
of the new boxes that I have in this lab could be the
server for a big group of thin clients under Linux;
instead we have children as young as five using these
monsters for what are relatively trivial tasks.

Should I stay here and try to gradually change things
from within? Should I take a job elsewhere at some
place where I can do more good and cause less harm to
young children? You folks should feel free to send me
both comments and job offers. . . . :-)


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