Schools and Open Source

Network World has this great short article on schools and open source. Opening line grabs me silly when I apply the line to Guilford County Schools:

Schools need to save money (know any school districts so rich money doesn’t matter?) and one way to do so is via Open Source Software.

Yeah. Apparently we’re so rich that money doesn’t matter. Really. Don’t believe me?


Let’s revisit a couple thoughts. First, this year is the first year where the “needs” of $17 million were undermined by the County Commissioners budgeting by only granting $15 million. Never mind the fact they gave themselves a fat raise just recently. Then, there’s the issue with bad network design and the stubborn attitudes towards open-source. The last I heard as far as using open-source within our schools was: “there is no support and we don’t like that people put pictures of cats on their website” or something to that effect. Yeah. And you’re understaffed and obviously don’t understand how to use the technology.
The Network World article talks about saving money by using Open Office and open source to help cut costs. But here in Guilford County Schools, we don’t know the meaning of community help or do we know the meaning of savings. Believe me, I finally gave up my co-chair position with the College Tech Prep Business IT Council in disgust over the inept attitudes towards helping our students learn by “actually learning” a little bit about the technology itself. Why doesn’t someone ask Adam? Now a student at UNC-Charlotte, he came from the “oh so mighty” Guilford County School system where he even placed first in the State and ranked in Nationals. What does he use? Open source. What did he try to get the schools to use? Open source. I tried from outside the school system while he tried to work the magic inside the school system. Eventually we both were fed up.
Recently, I was asked about using open source again in the schools and I snickered. Saving tax payers money and spending your budget on more worthy items like teachers or even IT staff salaries? Not even a thought. I could be stretching here, but I’m starting to wonder if GCS IT management is anything like the city manager in Tuttle, Oklahoma?