[K12OSN] Best approach to calm the school's administration about Linux?

Terrell Prude', Jr. microman at cmosnetworks.com
Sat May 29 00:11:54 UTC 2004

Even if they're businessfolks, don't expect a straight business case to 
work with them.  I've seen plenty of "businesspeople" that, once they're 
in a school board or administration, become instant politicians.  I 
would take the approach that "not only will it cost you all this money 
to rip out a perfectly working system, but now you'll take the school 
down with viruses.  Thus, you'll end up denying children access to 
computer resources, when they're not denied that with the current system."

Also, raise the spectre of potential lawsuits due to the use of 
proprietary formats.  There are statutes on the books of some 
jurisdictions that say "thou shalt use an open standard" so as to not 
favor one vendor over another.  OpenOffice.org's file formats, as well 
as those of the GIMP, Mozilla Mail/Thunderbird, KMail, TuxType, Dia, and 
anything else that's Free Software, are wide-open.  Microsoft Office's, 
Adobe Photoshop's, and Visio's, to name just a few, are not.

Basically, I'd take the strategy of painting a "gloom and doom" picture 
if they pull out your system and a "bed of roses" picture if they 
continue further deploying your system more.  It's a political head 
game; they're afraid of "looking bad" in front of someone important and 
especially in front of each other.

One other thing:  just because one isn't or hasn't been a professional 
classroom teacher doesn't make that person "completely out of touch."  
Unfortunately, I see--and receive--that "us vs. them" attitude from 
teachers a lot, and it's not deserved.


Joseph Bishay wrote:

>Background: we are a small private Christian elementary school with a 
>very limited budget and basic staffing. The school board is also made 
>up of people who have no experience in teaching (mostly business 
>people) and they don't interact with the school directly (IE: they're 
>completely out of touch).
>What would be the best way to reassure them that the system we have 
>IS able to prepare the students for the future (IE: Doesn't need to 
>be Windows)? Note that in our area (Toronto) there is no ministry-
>mandated computer curriculum, so essentially the lab is used as a 
>reference room for other subjects. 

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