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Education Software

Real Open Source Applications for Education? 185

Posted by kdawson
from the stacking-the-blocks dept.
openeducation writes "I have been researching open source solutions for K-12 education pretty heavily for the past year and have been disappointed to find no real alternatives to the large administrative applications like student information systems, data warehouse, ERP, etc. But recently, I ran across Open Solutions for Education. This group appears to be making a serious effort at creating a stack of open source applications that are alternatives to the large and costly commercial packages. Centre, an open source student information system that has been around for a while, is part of the solution stack. They have a data warehouse and are proposing an open source SIF alternative and an assessment solution. While the proof is in the pudding, these guys have working demos and they look pretty good for a first run. K-12 education is in dire financial straits and solutions like these could help with lower TCO. Plus, education is a collaborative industry already, which makes it a good fit for open source."
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Real Open Source Applications for Education?

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  • Necessary? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why are computers, student information systems, and open source required for K-12 education?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Why are computers, student information systems, and open source required for K-12 education?

      To simplify & reduce costs of managing students.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zappepcs (820751)
      Okay, you can go back under the rock you came out from under.
    • Re:Necessary? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DeadChobi (740395) <(DeadChobi) (at) (gmail.com)> on Sunday May 06, 2007 @09:39PM (#19015531)
      Because technology makes certain demonstrations easier, makes it easer to do the math of calculating grades, makes it easier to keep track of information, makes it easier to access information, makes it easier for students to do homework, and because it's a good idea for the curriculum to give some practical skills.
    • by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Sunday May 06, 2007 @09:43PM (#19015561) Homepage
      So we can analyze the source code and figure out how to change our marks. :D
      • by Rakishi (759894)
        At my high school the grading system was the only thing that (to the best of my knowledge) wasn't hacked in one way or another. Oddly enough the one incident I do know of that had grades changed involved a student altering the marks on the grad submission piece of paper they were asked to bring to the main office.

      • it's always nice when the userid and the comment match so well.
        • Hahahaha. Thanks man you just made my day.

          Actually I was given the name by some friends who werent too happy that I had just owned them.
          That was years ago.
    • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:16PM (#19016241)
      Why? Skyrocketing costs for compliance with regulations like "no child left behind" combined with growing numbers of students and less and less funding means looking for solutions that allow more money to be spent on educating the children rather than adminstration.

      Have you been to a high school recently? They're little more than prisons that let their inmates go home at 3pm.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I am a Sys Admin for a midsize K12 school district. It is a legal requisite that we gather this information to get money to pay for staff. We can't arbitrarily ask for money and have no accountability for having or not having students. There are also expectations for performance. There is trending an analysis for growth and development of projects. Mind you, tens of thousands of children have to be kept track of. What if one doesn't show up for a class? During that time period the kid could be sick in the r
    • Consider the following:

      I have an extant CAE course created prior to the net designed to teach 1st year College Algebra, but not in an open source stack that I can support at this point. Pass the CAE course and I could just about guarantee you that you can pass just about any accredited 1st year College Algebra course. Now then, once converted to a good open source stack, I would be glad to "sell" the course for about $10US a credit hour in terms of registering it as an online course as part of a course se
  • Great (Score:5, Informative)

    by geek (5680) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @09:40PM (#19015535) Homepage
    Looking forward to seeing this take off. My Uni. uses WebCT which everyone seems to absolutely hate. We're a "paperless campus" too so we're forced to use that damn thing. In the long run we need open standards in schools across the board. Not one of my professors knows what an .odt document is let alone OpenOffice. So adding to tuition and living costs, in order to get an education I need to pay the Microsoft tax or risk subtle inconsistencies in my .doc files from OpenOffice or other text editor exporting to Word format.

    The best place in the world for open source and open formats is in education. They level the playing field, but only when implimented correctly.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I often ask if I can submit as a PDF, then just export it - submitting from open office to ms office is just too risky!
      • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy (595695) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @10:17PM (#19015841) Homepage
        Even exporting from MS Office to MS Office is just too risky. With the formatting differences between different versions of MSWord, it's amazing they accept .doc at all. I think that PDF should be the standard for submitting assignments. It's open, and there's no need to worry about formatting errors, or the professor accidentally pressing a key and creating spelling errors.
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      What is with Universities' apperent inability to choose good software? Mine is switching to some "new" crap which at least feels less functional that the previuos stuff. (purposely not naming names)
      • by xenocide2 (231786)
        It could be worse. My university has chosen to write their own software, and is now inflicting their creation on other schools by selling it to them.
      • by AndersOSU (873247)
        Universities have the same inability of any large account (corporate, government, or other) to choose "good" software. The people hawking crap like WebCT have better account reps who sway the people spending the money than the "good" options.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Doesn't everybody think WebCT sucks? It is such a pain to use. Sort a field, but then select a student, and when you come back its unsorted again. And whats with viewing 23 students in the grade book as default? Make it say all, but then you go to do something with it, and it reverts back...
      • by i.r.id10t (595143)
        Really happy as an admin, teacher, and student with WebCT CE 4.1.x - its the last WebCT release. Everything since has been since they went commercial, or been bought by blackboard.

        My only real complaint about it is the lack of a database - it uses a lot of touch/lock files, etc. instead. Wish it would be Opened, but I really doubt that will happen....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Roger W Moore (538166)
      Looking forward to seeing this take off. My Uni. uses WebCT which everyone seems to absolutely hate. We're a "paperless campus" too so we're forced to use that damn thing. In the long run we need open standards in schools across the board. Not one of my professors knows what an .odt document is let alone OpenOffice.

      That's a shame! I use OpenOffice for all my lecture notes, slides, etc. and very few of my students know what it is or try it out (despite my encouragement at the start of term). I had hoped t
  • by dj245 (732906) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @09:42PM (#19015545) Homepage
    Plus, education is a collaborative industry already, which makes it a good fit for open source.

    While higher level educations may poke around with the source code and contribute, I would say that in general open source doesn't have any special appeal for K-12. Most teachers are more concerned with getting their students to pass the next state/national test, writing lesson plans, wrangling parents and students, and generally doing education to worry about the software behind it all. They just need the software to work (TM). Open sauce may be cheaper, but in the end the districts will get what they need to educate not what will "stick it to the man" or whatever.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      By providing cheaper software to the schools, they can use their money for things that seem to be lacking in many education systems, like quality teachers, new textbooks, art supplies, etc.
      • Many states set requirements for certain packages. In NJ we have a choice of a select few Student info software packages that we can use.

        All of them are commercial, all of them are not subsidized by NJ, one of them is REQUIRED by your district to keep track of student data which is then uploaded to the state.

        While its noble to provide cheaper software, government officials are writing software requirements with their financial backers in mind, not the schools. How else could you explain the major shitst

    • They just need the software to work (TM). Open sauce may be cheaper, but in the end the districts will get what they need to educate not what will "stick it to the man" or whatever.

      Unbelievably stupid. Do you really think Red Hat, IBM, Sun, fortune 500 companies, etc are running FOSS to stick it to the man?

      There are many pragmatic reasons to run open source - cost is only one of them.
    • by hazem (472289)
      I would say that in general open source doesn't have any special appeal for K-12. Most teachers are more concerned with getting their students to pass the next state/national test, writing lesson plans, wrangling parents and students, and generally doing education to worry about the software behind it all.

      Even worse, while most teachers wouldn't know the difference between USB and an ERP even if you put them on an IEP for it, they're not the ones making the software buying decisions.

      You see, when teachers g
  • Sakai and Moodle (Score:4, Informative)

    by sas-dot (873348) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @09:42PM (#19015549)
    Did you try this Sakai [sakaiproject.org] and Moodle [moodle.org]? Though Sakai is developed by universities, it should be adoptable to schools. Likewise Moodle is also a maturing project with various features being builtin.
    • Likewise Moodle is also a maturing project with various features being builtin.

      Actually I would have said that Sakai is still maturing whereas Moodle is mature but still improving. I recently saw a Sakai vs. Moodle and was very disappointed with Sakai's progress. Despite having far more financial support flung at it than Moodle, Sakai is still missing basic functionality (like online quizzes), has a very clunky user interface (in my opinion) and misses out on several VERY nice features of Moodle (like th
    • by mcrbids (148650)
      We produce software for school districts, and had decided that we were going to support Moodle. So much so that we even announced it to our clientelle. So we spent a significant amount of time studying it and learning how it works.

      Moodle is a usability and training nightmare, with dozens of confusing (and usually superfluous) options on every screen. If you happen to be VERY technically oriented, it's probably not so bad, but trying to train the average teacher on how to use and set up a class is simply a j
  • http://edubuntu.org/ [edubuntu.org]
  • by El Cubano (631386) <roberto@@@connexer...com> on Sunday May 06, 2007 @09:47PM (#19015583) Homepage

    There are lots of available applications that are tailored to the individual school level, especially for small and medium size schools. This is an excellent fit for private schools, parochial schools and probably even charter schools. For example, I have been evaluating Open Administration for Schools [richtech.ca] for a local Christian school. It seems like it will be a good fit.

    Now, if you are talking about software to help run an entire school district, that is a different story. In such a case, you are talking about thousands or tens of thousands of students, and probably hundreds or thousands of computers and other inventory to track. I would say that you have your work cut out for you. There have been some attempts at developing open source free/Free ERP tools. However, the market for ERP solutions is much smaller (far fewer large organizations than small and medium organizations, be they schools or otherwise). So, in the same way that you will have trouble finding open source manufacturing control software, you will have trouble finding open source software that is targeted at large organizations. It is not impossible. But as it appears you have found, it can be a daunting challenge.

  • by zymano (581466) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @09:53PM (#19015617)
    I speak for everyone.

    The book industry is a huge SCAM.

    Writing open english,math,science and more advanced books would help the pocketbook and make education more affordable.

    Hell,there are cheaper books at Barnes and Noble & Borders than the bookscams pushed by the schools.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by crumley (12964) *
      One place to look for them is the Assayer [theassayer.org].
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by benplaut (993145)
      http://wikibooks.org/ [wikibooks.org]

      • by dhasenan (758719)
        Issue: quality control.
        • by hazem (472289)
          It's not like the kids actually read the books.

          The schools pretend to offer useful books and the kids pretend to use them.

          And besides, the best teaching I received from middle and high school was from teachers who made their own materials, foregoing the books.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      I had an accounting book once that was printed in full color and cost a ridiculous amount of money. An ACCOUNTING book in full color. Accounting could easily be printed in black and white or, if you want to get really really fancy, three-color to cut the costs in half.
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Colour printing probably doesn't have much to do with the cost of the book. I've had black and white almost newspaper textbooks that cost between $100-$150. I've also had textbooks with colour printing that only cost $70. In the end it doesn't make a difference. It's not the ink and paper that cost a lot of money, it's just that they charge whatever they think people are willing to pay.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by bcrowell (177657)
          The cost depends on a lot of factors, but four-color printing is indeed very expensive. The other big factor in PPB (paper, printing, and binding) costs is the length of the press run. Printing costs are almost entirely setup costs, so the unit price of producing a copy of Harry Potter is extremely low, but the unit price can be very high for a book that isn't going to sell many copies. If a black and white textbook costs $100-150, it's probably because it's specialized and doesn't sell a lot of copies. Tha
          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            I wasn't talking about harry potter books here. I'm talking about university textbooks. I understand why Harry potter books are cheap. But I don't understand why full-colour, hard cover, very course specific textbooks can be cheaper than soft-cover, black and white, broad topic books. Based on what you've just pointed out, I've seen quite a few publishers really gouging on book costs.
    • While the comment doesn't have much to do with the original story, I agree. The educational book industry as it applies to schools is a giant scam. I think more kids might actually read the material for class if the book was good for something other than practice problems. I've had books that cover material in 800 pages that other books can cover in 100 (much more clearly too). Most of these books are a constant game of revisions and supplemental material, blocking the used book industry. The authors are "e
    • Why should a young child have to lug those heavy books around? Why waste the paper?
      • According to one of my neighbors, this scenario happens about once a week at the school she works at:

        * Child decides to do homework outside.
        * Child runs in to use bathroom / get a snack
        * Child is told to wash up, it's time for supper
        * Supper, evening activities, bath, bed.
        * Rain or sprinklers soak backpack and contents

        It's a little tough to dry out an e-book with a hair dryer (if my experience this spring with an errant Blackberry is anything to go by...) I also notice kids tend to sling their backpacks li
  • Dire straits? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @09:53PM (#19015619) Homepage
    According to the US Department of Education, total money spent on K-12 schooling annually in the USA has risen from US$248.9 billion in 1990 to US$536 billion in 2005. How can an enormous industry (which is what K-12 schooling is) with a huge influential union be in dire straits when often is the main source of jobs in rural areas?

    As pointed out in this article (based on a recent bipartisan study):
        "To fix US schools, panel says, start over"
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1215/p01s01-ussc.htm l [csmonitor.com]
    for all the money (and technology) increased over that time per student, test scores (for what they are worth) have remained flat.

    The problem with most K-12 schooling is not money (or technology); it is that K-12 schooling is actually very good at doing what it was designed to do (see for example John Taylor Gatto's writings).
          "The 7-Lesson Schoolteacher"
          http://www.newciv.org/whole/schoolteacher.txt [newciv.org]
    Unfortunately what compulsory schooling was designed to do one hundred years or more ago (make people into compliant assembly line workers) is not really what an information age society needs anymore.

    That's why efforts like by the Shuttleworth Foundation
        http://www.shuttleworthfoundation.org/ [shuttlewor...dation.org]
    to make some of the sort of software you are asking about for schools is misguided IMHO. You can't fix a bad process producing undesireable outcomes by automating it or reducing its cost. You need to change it entirely.

    Here is one of many groups devoted to rethinking education:
        "The Alternative Education Resource Organization"
        http://www.educationrevolution.org/ [educationrevolution.org]
    And a related article by the leader of that organization:
        "Sustainable Education "
        http://www.greenmoneyjournal.com/article.mpl?newsl etterid=21&articleid=195 [greenmoneyjournal.com]
    He writes: "Nevertheless, there is an education revolution going on, and it is long overdue. It is moving in the diametrically opposite direction of the "testing" push. The latter comes from the bureaucrats from within that dying system, who do know there is something wrong. But since they can't think "out of the box," the only remedy they can come up with is longer hours, more homework, and "teaching to the test," in other words, more of the same. The education revolution is coming from people who have created alternative schools and programs, thousands of them, and from others who have checked "none of the above" and have decided to home educate."

    Once you make the leap to a new process for education (primarily learner self-direction) *then* we can talk about what software makes sense to support the learner (like educational simulations, design tools, plain old access to the web, edubuntu,
        http://www.edubuntu.org/ [edubuntu.org]
    and so on).
    • Link for the above mentioned US DOE statistics on total K-12 spending:
      http://www.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/10facts/index .html [ed.gov]
      The specific chart:
      http://www.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/10facts/edlit e-chart.html#2 [ed.gov]

      And a related essay by someone else also commenting on Shuttleworth Foundation's SchoolTool project:
      "School system needs revolution, not evolution"
      http://ninjamonkeys.co.za/index.php/2005/03/07/sch ool_system_needs_revolution_not_evolu [ninjamonkeys.co.za]
      From th
    • by grcumb (781340)

      That's why efforts like by the Shuttleworth Foundation [http://www.shuttleworthfoundation.org/] to make some of the sort of software you are asking about for schools is misguided IMHO. You can't fix a bad process producing undesireable outcomes by automating it or reducing its cost. You need to change it entirely.

      The Shuttleworth Foundation operates mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, which suffers from a great many problems, but has virtually nothing in common with the US Education system.

      You're right to sta

      • I feel Mark Shuttleworth's heart is in the right place, and much good will come out of various initiatives he is involved in, but I'm thinking specifically of this project of his:
        "The SchoolTool Project"
        http://www.schooltool.org/ [schooltool.org]
        From there: "SchoolTool is a project to develop a common global school administration infrastructure that is freely available under an Open Source license. SchoolTool encompasses three sub-projects:
        * SchoolTool Calendar and
    • by Rakishi (759894)
      I have come to the conclusion that this is all bullshit, everyone wants to blame the education system one way or another since thats the easy answer. If it was the education system then you wouldn't have Asians and Eastern Europeans being 4 times as prevalent in magnet schools as they are in the population. On the other hand if in reality US society has devolved to a point where parents simply don't do their fucking "job" then that fits very well. A school cannot be educator, parent and removed of bad paren
      • You make an insightful point that the overall problems is not just schools -- it is a whole system of interlinked institutions and related assumptions of which school is just a part. One of the reason many parents can't do a great job raising kids is simply that they work really long hours in the USA -- more than just about any other industrialized country and have very little vacation time. That is one of the reasons for this recent UN report suggesting "US and UK worst places in developed world to be a ch
  • Claroline (Score:4, Informative)

    by Wister285 (185087) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @10:00PM (#19015695) Homepage
    Claroline is one of the best CMS solutions for schools that I have seen, even when compared to commercial alternatives. It can be accessed at:

    http://www.claroline.net/ [claroline.net]
  • higher ed software (Score:2, Informative)

    by hedrick (701605)
    I work in higher ed. I don't know whether the things we use apply to K-12, but I would think they might. In addition to Sakai and Moodle, which have already been mentioned, there is a project for open source administrative systems, called Kuali. See http://kuali.org/ [kuali.org]
  • I applaud these efforts. US organizations tend to throw a lot of money to companies for software solutions, but licensing/support costs are ridiculous and recurring. I hope that first rate open source solutions appear.

    Northwestern University recently upgraded their web email client from the unpopular Emumail to the open source Internet Messaging Program. Unfortunately the servers crashed on the first day of service and NUIT was forced to switch back.

    I don't know if it was because of bad server administrati

  • The TCO benefits of open-source are obvious, but only if wielded by the right hands, TANSTAFL [wikipedia.org]!
    1) Define better what you want to accomplish. (Objective, benefits, expectations)
    2) Define better your resources. (Budget, Team, Time)
    3) Define better your school. (Size, budget, number of students, teachers)
    4) Draft a one-page document with this information, roll it up and use it to play whack-a-mole with local bean-counters.
    5) Come back for more.
    The openness of your source should be the least of your worrie
  • Once you get to the size of school district that you need a PhD to be a leader or decision maker, all you get are a bunch of incestuous ninnies that have no guts to buck the latest fad. I've been there, I've worked with these boneheads.

    Add to that all the No Child Allowed To Get Ahead crap... the NCLB is just the latest trend in class warfare. It backs public schools into a corner with impossible to meet requirements. It's like expecting pole vaulters to keep clearing the bar no matter how high up you move
  • So you "ran across" this organization and happened to end up with an alias of "openeducation"? At least you could say that you work for them, are a member of their team, or just wanted to help people know about you. Additionally, I'm surprised at the proposition. Who is going to support the mission-critical student information system when it is open sourced? What happens when the state requires new forms to be utilized? What programmers are guaranteed to create them on schedule? This is like telling k
  • I'm not sure if you are looking for a pure administrative system or an educational one. If the latter then I can thoroughly recommend Moodle. It is one of the few times where I have seen a community OpenSource project wipe the floor with "professional" products (both OpenSource and commercial).

    It is dead easy to set up (PHP and MySQL based) and VERY easy to get started with. I use it for all the courses (University level) which I teach and the students seem to greatly prefer it over the central admin's WebC
  • http://www.schooltool.org/ [schooltool.org] The project is funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation and consists of administation infrastructure, student information system and skills tracking programs. It's built on Zope3 and is part of the Ubuntu distribution (comes bundled with the Edubuntu variant by default). Very well built and well conceived software. It's getting more attention in Europe right now, but there are plenty of US users. I think the skills assessment part was built for Virginia schools.
  • by dircha (893383) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:54PM (#19016525)
    I've worked as an engineer on a number of the "costly commerical packages" the submitter alludes to. I've followed the open source alternatives over the years. I'd love to see a competitive open source solution and would gladly develop free software instead if it could pay the bills, but if you are a technology decision maker in your district I would encourage you to still go through the bidding process, and yes, solicit a bid from this Open Solutions for Education group as well.

    When you sit down and compare the value you are getting, I think you will be surprised how favorably the commercial solutions compare.

    The top 3 considerations will probably be support, services, and state reporting.

    The largest cost in many of these packages is the services and support component. In this respect, open source or not is largely irrelevant unless you are planning to do support and services in house. But that means supporting a product that you have limited training on, and have very limited familiarity with the codebase of. And unless you plan on doing 1st tier support on up personally, you'll be hiring additional people on staff. Add their salaries into the bid.

    If you'll be relying on the vendor, they you have a different set of questions. What kind of response level does the open source provider guarantee? Do they have the staffing and budget to fly technicians and trainers out same day or next day? Can they provide the level of support your district needs? Remember, if the system inexplicably goes down printing report cards the night before parent teacher conferences, the school board isn't going to let you off the hook because you saved a few bucks by going open source.

    The other place you are likely to be burned is State Reporting. The reporting requirements in many states are so elaborate that it is only by economies of scale that a vendor can afford to provide and support compliant implementations. The complexity of these requirements are increasing as the state and federal governments want information in more detail, and the requirements change every year. Does this open source provider even have an implementation for state reporting in your state? Does it satisfy the data privacy regulations of your state? Does it support the internal data auditing requirements of your state? Will your auditor agree?

    And if it doesn't have a state reporting implementation for your state, how much value does it really provide you, and how will it need to integrate into your existing process in terms of export and import?

    If I were starting a student information system from scratch like a lot of these open source solutions are trying to do, I would start in a single state with modest state reporting requirements and target small schools. The customization needs you are going to start seeing even in 5000 student districts will quickly leave you in need of a large services and support organization (or business partners to provide the same), only you won't benefit from the economies of scale the established vendors do. "We'll offer the same product and services as big vendor X, only we'll do it for less!" is generally a non-starter as a business plan. Probably you are going to be looking either to be bought out by one of these established vendors (not a good strategy in the current market), or targeting a niche market, such as sub-5000 student districts, or even sub-1000 student districts.
    • 'The largest cost in many of these packages is the services and support component'

      support fud ..

      'Do they have the staffing and budget to fly technicians and trainers out same day or next day?'

      support fud ..

      'The reporting requirements in many states are so elaborate that it is only by economies of scale that a vendor can afford to provide and support compliant implementations'

      compliance fud ..

      Sounds to me like that was written by a lawyer rather then a software 'engineer' ..

      was Re:As a
  • Squeak? OLPC? Hello? (Score:3, Informative)

    by brasspen (899025) on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:21AM (#19016691)
    Squeak Smalltalk http://www.squeakland.org/ [squeakland.org] and http://www.squeak.org/ [squeak.org] are open source educational tools for K-12. eToys is in the One LapTop Per Child. It's in there because it's an open source educational tool.
  • Did you run across EduForge?

    http://eduforge.org/ [eduforge.org]

    Something in there might meet your needs.
  • At the TLt school and library techs IT Summit in Saskatoon last week, I picked up a free Software for Starving Students CD full of OSS goodies.

    http://softwarefor.org/ [softwarefor.org]
  • by ccmay (116316) on Monday May 07, 2007 @03:17AM (#19017603)
    K-12 education is in dire financial straits

    Like hell it is. Educational expenditures have never been higher [wa.gov], even on a per-capita basis. We spend [ed.gov] more on education than almost any other country, and get less for our money than almost any other country.

    What's more, the school districts that spend the most, like the District of Columbia [fff.org], tend to be the shittiest at actually educating their inmates.

    This country needs to spend less [cato.org], not more, on our schools.

    We need to get rid of bloated administrative overhead.

    We need to increase class size, get rid of computers and other distracting frippery in the classroom, and jettison all attempts at building "self-esteem" among little delinquents who don't deserve a particle of it. Let them earn self-respect on their own, through hard work with plenty of drills and rote memorization.

    We need to bring back paddling, dunce caps, and shame.

    We need to abandon "mainstreaming". Students with severe behavioral problems are causing terrible disruption of classes. They belong in segregated classes and schools. Tough shit for them, but they can't be permitted to ruin the whole educational experience for everyone else. No more social promotions, either. Either pass the requirements, repeat the year, or get the fuck on with your life of digging ditches.

    We need to break up the cartel that controls education. Someone with a degree in math or business is far more qualified than the dregs and losers and nitwits that the typical College of Education churns out. He shouldn't have to sit through months of educrat babble and bilge in order to teach in a school. Teacher licensing is nothing more than rent-seeking and featherbedding and guild-gilding. Tenure should be totally abolished. Vouchers should be implemented nationwide. Worthless teachers and administrators should be hounded out of the profession. Worthless schools should be boarded up.

    Most of all, we have to CRUSH the teacher's unions. These lazy, stupid, greedy lard asses put the education of our kids about tenth on their list of priorities, far behind fattening their bloated salaries, gold-plating their lavish pensions, padding the length of their 3-month summer vacations, salting the calendar with "inservice" junkets, diverting public money to shiftless in-laws and mobbed-up vendors and left-wing non-profits, and working the phone banks for whichever Democrat makes the most promises to shovel even more taxpayers' money onto the gravy train.

    -ccm

    • by smagruder (207953)
      Wow, yet another reich-wing propagandist drunk on Wild Cherry Kool-aid. What fun it is to read baseless diatribes like this! It made my day.

      The reality is that teachers are grossly underpaid in the United States for what they do. Pay them what they're worth, then the best people will want to do it and will compete for these jobs!

      The idea that we should attack and ruin the people who already have tons of pressures on them is insane.

      Here's an idea: How about actually supporting teachers and giving them the
      • Exactly. The pay's so low right now that you have to be a dumbass who is incapable of completing a more difficult degree program, or (much more rarely, unfortunately) an idealist. We all know this, as is evident in the way that people react when they find out that a given college student is going to be a teacher (especially primary school teachers).

        By setting the pay so low, we have said to the market, "give us glorified babysitters who have no passion (and, in many cases, no capacity) for learning". The
  • WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jesus_666 (702802) on Monday May 07, 2007 @05:13AM (#19018157)
    Education is an industry that cares about TCO? What's next, a principal getting fired by the board because he puts student education over shareholder value? The curriculum being reduced to stuff not relying on resources like books and experiments because cheaper teaching = higher ROI? Seriously, when education is being seen as an industry that's a sign of seriously screwed up values.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ficken (807392)
      Maybe not K-12, but this is definitely the case in higher education. Think about how many research/dorm room projects have started out of higher ed: Google from Stanford, ISS from Georgia Tech, and the list goes on. These companies will typically reciprocate a little cash flow back into the university from which it originated.
  • Fenix (Score:2, Informative)

    by mindstormpt (728974)
    My university uses a self-built open source system, fenix [ist.utl.pt] to manage several thousand students. It's heavy and complex to install and configure, but it's great for the users. It's used in other universities and also powers our public site [ist.utl.pt].
  • Check it out...

    "SchoolForge's [schoolforge.net] mission is to unify independent organizations that advocate, use, and develop open resources for primary and secondary education. SchoolForge is intended to empower member organizations to make open educational resources more effective, efficient, and ubiquitous by enhancing communication, sharing resources, and increasing the transparency of development. SchoolForge members advocate the use of open source and free software, open texts and lessons, and open curricula for the ad
  • My son's middle school (grades 6-8 for those who don't know what "middle school" is,) uses Linux in their computers labs, and OpenOffice.org. Sadly, though, OO.o presentations are still called "PowerPoints", even by the teacher.

    OpenOffice.org [openoffice.org] is probably the easiest one to implement, and it has the benefit of even returning money to the district in the form of lack of licensing fees.

    K-12 Linux [k12linux.org] is harder to implement, but can save a district a *LOT* of money, because it makes hardware last a few years lon

  • Something like the SCT Banner system which runs many universities and community colleges like City College of San Francisco. City College paid something like $1.5 million dollars for this POS. They pay around $150,000 for "support" - then have to pay another $200,000 or more for consultants to actually provide "support".

    Banner is based on Oracle technology, using a Java-based front-end. Interestingly, it includes openEAI, an open source Enterprise Application Integration project to which SCT contributes, su

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