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Re: [K12OSN] Letter to local schools - draft

Terrell Prude, Jr. said:
> Your heart is definitely in the right place.  However, experience
> tells me that this approach won't work.  Here's why.  Government
> bosses seem to be willing to make changes only when they think that
> not doing so will IMMEDIATELY and PERSONALLY embarrass
> them--PUBLICLY.  I emphasized those three words for a reason, and
> perhaps this example will illustrate why.

OK, I'll bite.

I take exception to this. _Most_ people are ready to make changes when
threatened with public embarassment. That is no fun for anybody.

> I know of one school district which, after being bitten by MSBlast
> and Nachi, and having to go out and physically touch tens of
> thousands of machines to patch/clean them, is about to spend
> millions of dollars every year for a "desktop management system".
> This "desktop management system" is a knee-jerk response to a public
> humiliation, and their way of thinking is, "Hey, we can say we're
> throwing this much money at the problem in order to fix it.  Thus,
> if we get caught again, we personally are covered, and we can simply
> point the finger at the vendor."  Free Software, including LTSP, is
> totally brushed off by them as a
> "non-standard, unsupportable, unaccountable, computer-weeb toy" not
> worthy of even mentioning other than disparagingly.  A big part of
> that reason is that they don't feel like they can "point the finger
> at the vendor" with Free Software.  A stupid reason, in my opinion,
> but real in their minds.

Most people approach problems from within the framework they've
already developed. If you are a Windows admin, you don't just tote
around your Linux CDs to every workstation and start installing.
Having made a significant institutional/expertise investment in a
Windows architecture, I'd expect the rational thing to do is to fix
what's _broken_, i.e. use Microsoft Software Update Services to keep
your boxes patched. Fork-lift upgrades are not cheap or easy.

The reason I see opposition to Free Software is generally because it's
not familiar (tough to fight) or because it genuinely doesn't meet the
instructional requirements set forth. Dia is no Inspiration for
"mind-mapping" and NovaNet from Pearson is big at our high school. We
can threaten these vendors all we want; I have to roll this stuff out

> The threat of pain is, I remind you, a big part of why Riverdale
> S.D., and others in Oregon, started using K12LTSP the way they did.
> It's why Ernie Ball now uses LTSP (they got slapped with an $80,000+
> fine by MS and the BSA, and were humiliated publicly).  In
> corporate, the pressure is there to reduce costs, or you're fired.
> In government, that pressure (the "or you're fired" part) isn't
> there, so there's little incentive to actually save money and
> increase productivity.

Certainly getting nasty letters from the BSA is unpleasant, but we had
already started migrating backend services to Linux when that started
unfolding. 2 K12LTSP labs are now in production in my district, with
another coming up Real Soon Now. Our rational was/is based around it
being, roughly in order:

Platform Agnostic
High Performing

Schools (in Oregon, at the very least) have been under enormous
pressure to cut costs. If I can't do things cheaper, somebody does
lose their job. Everybody here I know works from this precept.

> The "public
> embarrassment" way is, sadly, the only way to affect these
> decision-makers.  It's got to hurt the top bosses to keep with
> business as usual, and only then will there be a change.  The
> exceptions to this rule are, I've found, to be few and far between.

School Districts have School Boards. The administration reports to
them. Get involved in your community if you feel it's mismanaged.

> The ultimate solution is for folks like us to actually get into
> positions of real power in these organizations, and to become
> well-connected politically.  Very hard to do...but it is vital, I
> think.

Can't argue with that. Just don't berate the people you are trying to
"convert". Something about flies, vinegar, and honey.

-Dan Young
-Parkrose School District

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