[K12OSN] Re: Making donations work better

Terrell Prude', Jr. microman at cmosnetworks.com
Mon May 10 12:22:52 UTC 2004

I am indeed sorry to hear that your IT folks are not on your side. That 
is a very unfortunate situation to be in, and I do know something of 
that feeling. But we're not all like that. You're right; my district is 
lucky to have folks like me and others on this list, chiefly because we 
actually want to help. It sounds like you have little choice but to go 
your own way, and the fact that your situation has made this necessary 
is at best regrettable, and in my opinion, inexcusable.

One thing I do take some exception to, though, is this apparent 
assumption on the part of a lot of teachers I've met that, just because 
I am not a regular classroom teacher, that I am "lesser" or "the enemy" 
or "you don't know a thing about what we actually do, so don't talk to 
me, you non-teacher!". Such teachers, and their principals/vice 
principals who back this attitude, are just dead wrong when they speak 
of me this way, and, sadly, they do it often--to my bosses, behind my 
back--when I'm there to help them.

My point wasn't to knock teachers or folks like you; on the contrary, I 
encourage you heartily. Rather, it was to say that the Aunt Tillys of 
the world shouldn't be messing with a network without having learned 
something about what they're doing *first*, which it sounds like you 
have. I most certainly encourage that and wish more would! It'd make my 
job a whole lot easier. I'm not an individual site admin myself anymore, 
but I interface a lot with the site admins of the individual schools. 
I'm actually one of four infrastructure guys for all 246 sites of ours, 
so if it says Cisco on it, it's my job to make sure it keeps working, 
and that includes the new wireless rollout. As part of that, I also run 
several servers of various types (HP OpenView, etc.).

You want help from IT folks? You got it; I'll put my floppy disk where 
my drive is. I've made this offer before, and I'll make it again. If 
you're a school employee out there in the greater Washington, DC area, 
are in a similar situation as Dennis, and thinking about running LTSP, 
K12LTSP, or a Free/Net/OpenBSD equivalent in your school, I am willing 
to help you. I'm also willing to help you if you're not in Dennis's type 
of situation, i. e. your IT folks support you properly. My price is a 
Hershey's Symphony bar (the big one--I love those) and possibly lunch, 
and yes, this offer is for real. I even have a dual-Athlon server with 
4GB DRAM and Gig-E to use for demos. Any takers?


Dennis Daniels wrote:

> Terrell,
> I appreciate your perspective and you're right, there are a lot of 
> things that Aunt Tilly shouldn't do on a network but keep in mind that 
> change in the classroom never comes from the top; it comes from 
> teachers like me who, having worked in the 'real world' of networked 
> offices and instant communications with co-workers experience culture 
> shock walking backwards in time into the classrooms of most schools 
> today. Most of our students are graduating; ready for 19th century 
> technology, not the 21st.
> I've been able to count on my IT folks at school to say no to every 
> request I've made, to let work orders go stale for months and ignore 
> my requests for simple things like homework drop boxes on the school's 
> network. I don't have access to POP, can't install anything on my 
> workstation and can't publish students' grades on the schools' website 
> because of 'security issues'. I imagine, if you're a school admin, 
> which it sounds like you are, then you're teachers are happy campers. 
> My teacher friends, on other campuses, have nothing but horror 
> stories, echoing mine, about their IT situation.
> What I'm saying is that IT folks are often NOT there, have never 
> taught, and have no idea what it means to face a room full of students 
> who don't have log-ins or have to tell them 'the network is down ... 
> again'. I imagine your teachers are lucky. The one's I know, who are 
> trying to use the network provided by the IT folks, receive miserable 
> service; ergo my choice to build my own and escape the tyranny of the 
> 'nay-sayers' in IT.
> This dialog is very useful in my opinion. This list is often about 
> hardware purchases, or software settings but rarely about what it's 
> like for the 'little guy' using the K12LTSP on a daily basis in the 
> classroom with students and the pressures that entails. My respect for 
> what you do, Terrell, and the rest of the admins on this, list is 
> enormous. I'm an admin now because I have to be, not because I want to 
> be, and it's a damn hard job. Making it easier for more teachers like 
> me to set up micro-networks in schools, a little haven of sanity in 
> the chaos that is most school's IT network, is a big and worthy goal. 
> Because, traction for ideas like K12LTSP only comes from teachers who 
> get it working and running, and showing it off to all curious and the 
> nay-sayers, is the only way it will be embraced in the larger context. 
> The easier it is to cycle in donated hardware and to build larger 
> networks the more likely we'll be able to give our students access to 
> the tools they will need to be productive members of an increasingly 
> technically sophisticated world.
> best,
> Dennis
> best,
> Dennis
>> <RANT>
>> This is a major reason why I have trouble with the notion of Aunt 
>> Tilly the teacher standing up gear on the network--of any 
>> sort--without going through the IT folks first. Our own school LANs 
>> have gotten nailed several times by the Aunt Tillys of the world 
>> bringing in their wireless access points from home. These things have 
>> their internal DHCP servers turned on to give out 192.168's 
>> (remember, we have 10.x.x.x subnets!) so when they hook them up to 
>> the school network, they take out the entire school. Yes, this is in 
>> violation of written policy. Being the network infrastructure guy, I 
>> have to go track down these rogue W.A.P.'s when it happens. During 
>> all this, I get to deal with principals, vice principals, and 
>> teachers trying to yell at me as if it's *my* fault. Thus, I have a 
>> major problem with this.
>> Aunt Tilly needs to leave the network A-L-O-N-E--workstation, thin 
>> client, server, or otherwise. It's not her job. That's why we IT 
>> folks are here.
>> </RANT>
>> --TP
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