Inertia

may 28, 2007

Our schools suffer from inertia. It is not a good thing. Damn those unions. This is from a classmate in my Unix class:

In terms of public education, the student's don't learn much about an operating system thought the educational system. I work in a public school system in IT. If the district were to change to Linux for the desktops it would require an alteration of the curriculum. While in theory the change is a good idea, it would require a change in mindset for not only students, but staff as well. We have a very strong teacher's union in our district and it takes almost an act of God to make a change such as this.
What makes it even sadder is reading something like this:
With 4,000 students and just 21 computers, the Cotton Hill Girls High School in the south Indian city of Trivandrum wouldn't appear to be at the vanguard of anything related to information technology. Yet the 71-year-old school is abandoning Microsoft Windows software in favor of its free, open-source rival, Linux. So when students -- typically eight to a machine, seated at two benches -- turn on their PCs they see Linux desktop software that helps them navigate their way to all manner of math, graphics, and writing programs. The desktop is a different story: Just 3% of India's PCs use Linux. Still, that's about triple the level in the U.S. 'We expect India to be the first country to use Linux extensively over a large user base across many sectors by the end of the decade,' says Deepak Phatak, an open-source evangelist from Bombay's famed Indian Institute of Technology.
It's a wonder why we are handing out H1Bs like mad and outsourcing. It may not just be about inexpensive labor, rather it may be all about qualified labor. And the disparity will only grow larger in the future as American students grow up computer illiterate and students in the rest of the world are completely computer literate. If we can't start our kids early on technology, who's high-tech in the future?