US schools are not yet ready for Linux. Yes sad to say, it is not because they can’t do Linux or don’t need a feasible, safe and renewable source for technology. US schools are not ready to accept Linux because they don’t feel the need.
1. Teachers Resistant to Change
You may be shocked to know that most teachers really look at technology as an evil requirement. Teachers feel overburdened with creating lesson plans, managing ever increasing problems with students, left with little energy or desire to learn new technology. Even proposing the idea of Linux will be met with heavy resistance just because it means change.
2. Teachers are Not Accountable for Technology
Teachers must be held accountable for their implementation of technology into the classroom curriculum. Just because you take kids to a computer lab it does not mean that they learned anything from that time. Teachers must have a clearly outlined requirement for what they are responsible to teach to students in technology. Many school districts have technology goals but the teachers are not really held accountable to achieve the goals. Goals need to be measured on a regular basis. You can argue their are Federal mandates for technology but all that is talk because on the local school system level…no one checks if teachers are doing anything worth while in technology. In reality, most teachers are not doing anything new in technology so how could you ever suggest Linux.
3. School Boards are Technology Clueless
In fact, if you look at schools systems closely you will find that many school boards have people on them that are completely unqualified, especially in technology. I have been to countless school board meetings trying to explain and demonstrate technology goals especially as they relate to Linux. I understand that school board positions are thankless and most people would not even consider it but if you want technology and Linux in schools you must get people on school boards who have an understanding of the technology needs and how Linux can meet those goals.
4. Change the Grant Process
Grants are the worst thing that could ever happen for a school district. First, almost all grants are directly tied to Microsoft software. Second, most school districts use grants to purchase technology they cannot sustain. So that, they have a surge of technology and in a few years they are back to total junk. If school districts see technology as important they need to budget for training and equipment. I have never seen a grant for Linux! Each time I have written a grant and suggested Linux it has been challenged, challenged by individuals who really have no idea about Linux or technology. If you want to see Linux in schools create some Linux grants.
5. Create a Technology Plan
Schools need 5 year technology plans that they are forced to implement and be accountable for. Sure, ERATE requires a technology plan for schools but most teachers have never seen the plan and no one implements the plan. And once again there is no accountability for the plan. The school slaps together a plan and submits it to the state and it is given a rubber stamp. Here in Montana the schools send the technology plans to the state and it was discovered that the state did not even read the plans…just approved them.
Water runs down hill and sad to say that describes the US school system. Until we as Americans can individually and as a country demand more out of schools and educators, Linux is only a remote option.