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RE: [school-discuss] Cozy "soak the taxpayer" cone of silence
[mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Philip Tully
Sent: Tuesday, November 09, 2004 4:32 PM
Cc: Support list for opensource software in schools.
Subject: Re: [school-discuss] Cozy "soak the taxpayer" cone of silence
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
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
Just my two cents.
Adams Center, NY