Monday, May 6, 2013

Who Makes The Decisions on School Software? We Need to Know.

by Ken Starks 

Thanks to for the working mom graphic.

Many people in the Linuxsphere have at least heard of or our earlier-named effort, The HeliOS Project.  Many of you who know about what we do, became aware of us via a posting on my personal blog a few years ago.

What I thought would be me blowing off some steam, turned into somewhat of a legacy.

I really wish it could of happened in a different way, but it didn't, so here we are.

Basically, I responded publicly to a school teacher who all but accused me of giving licensed software away to one of the boys in her class.  In a few words...?

It went viral in about 4 hours.

All totaled, between the comments on my blog and the comments on Slashdot, I think it hit over 4000 a while ago.  I myself stopped taking comments on that posting a year ago.....

It's done, gone, a piece of the past....

That still gets an average of 500 hits a month...a posting that dates back to December of 2008.

So excuse me if I am a bit jittery when bringing up the subject of school teachers, especially when I must call them on what they do inside their classrooms.

And for God Sakes, please don't ask me to name him/her.  Had I not given the teacher from 2008 a false name, she would have been strung up by her heels and left as carrion long ago.  One poster even suggested she should have.....

Well, it was ugly.  Trust me.

I received a phone call from one of the parents of a Reglue Kid a couple of weeks ago.  She told me that her 7th grade child had to purchase a copy of Microsoft Office so she could complete her assignments, and could I provide her a license for said software.

I replied that I could not and inquired as to why the LibreOffice suite wasn't sufficient.

The teacher told the student that she needed to acquire the "Real Microsoft Office", and that her grade could suffer if she did not.

This single mom is raising three children, working two jobs and still has trouble getting food on the table and the rent paid.  Even at a fully reduced student license, it's gonna cost her from 50-85 dollars.

That ain't gonna work.

With ghosts from 2008 whispering in my ear, I approached the subject with caution.  I will condense the three 30 minute-long conversations down to the basic jist.

Said teacher had no idea what Google Docs is.  I had to physically walk her through a Gmail install over the phone and guide her to the Google Docs page.  After a bit over 1.5 hours in conversation, the light finally came on and she absolutely gushed over the marvels of technology and Google in particular.

So, as I understand it...the necessity for Microsoft Office has been lifted and kids with no Internet connection will be allowed to use LibreOffice.  She even gives instructional  handouts as to how best to get LibreOffice and install it.

And as well, she points them to Google Docs as a matter of course.

I'm just glad that this did not escalate.  I had sense enough to hold my tongue this many have learned before me....

Pain and discomfort are the best teachers.

-- Ken Starks

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