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RE: [school-discuss] Cozy "soak the taxpayer" cone of silence

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-schoolforge-discuss@schoolforge.net
[mailto:owner-schoolforge-discuss@schoolforge.net] On Behalf Of Philip Tully
Sent: Tuesday, November 09, 2004 4:32 PM
To: schoolforge-discuss@schoolforge.net
Cc: Support list for opensource software in schools.
Subject: Re: [school-discuss] Cozy "soak the taxpayer" cone of silence

Hello all.

Where do I start.

I am the President of the Cedar Grove NJ K-12 school district 

I work for a major computer HW/SW and Services vendor that has invested 
and reaped the benefits of Linux. I work with Linux everyday.

I cannot get past first base with OSS.   It doesn't help that another 
Board Member is an avowed MS bigot.    My district get $0 money from MS, 
I know I do the budget.  The  problem is deeper than that.  Most school 
districts have no time to experiment with new software.  Many teachers 
and Administrators  feel comfortable with very specific packages which 
they use exclusivly (Word/Powerpoint).  For them to move to a non-MS 
package requires a heavy push and  a concerted effort by senior admin, 
who have to deal with many more pressing issues. (drugs/violence in 
schools, NCLB underfunding etc)

I wouldn't read any deeper challenge than a rather computer shy group 
(overall, there are exceptions). that has a tool they can use, and cost 
them nothing.

Phil Tully

//in here//

I am a marriage and family therapist and consultant who's followed seul.edu
since 1998.  Permit me to suggest why roadblocks still exist to OSS software

People don't choose a product (or a president) because it/he is the best of
the lot.  People go with what is familiar.  When the contest is between
familiarity and innovation, the former wins almost always.

Product quality is not unimportant.  But a person is more likely to change
products when he or she is comfortable in the presence of the person
advocating change.  People listen to people they know and trust.  Meaningful
change is facilitated more by relationships than by new product strengths.  

Change is inhibited by chronic anxiety (something in no short supply in most
school systems).  Anxiety always works against change.  Fear and
apprehension inevitably work to reinforce the status quo.

I have found that people will change to a new product when it solves a
problem that really bothers them with what they are presently using, and the
change is suggested (not anxiously, not argumentatively) by someone whom
they trust.  A minority will change because the product is flat out better,
but most people will not.

The naked claim that one product line saves lots of money will work only
when money is a core issue.  But never underestimate the power of
familiarity and the comfort of the status quo.

An institution will change altogether when a tipping point of accepting a
new product or approach is realized.  Until then, it's an uphill slog all
the way.

Just my two cents.

Douglas Ort
Adams Center, NY