In a situation where normally you would not skid at all, how do you know the ABS will not turn on when it shouldn't?
Does that actually happen? I've lived my life under the impression that adequate pressure in the brake line was necessary to trigger systems like this, making it extremely difficult for the system to just "come on" while you're driving. If it comes on when you're braking, but not braking hard enough to justify ABS, I can't see that you're likely to have much problem. What's the difference in stopping distance, exactly? Apologies for my ignorance here... my car doesn't even have this system.
Let the individual divisions of the school give you their needs, and you meet them.
Yes, the "meet them" part is the part where supposed "agendae" may fall. I believe the OP was asking how to gracefully meet the needs of the school while aligning himself with what he sees to be the ethics of his field, while at the same time dealing with other managers who are in equal-ish positions of decision (for instance on a committee) but possibly of opposite opinions regarding what constitutes a balance of ethics, or possibly in another field where there are altogether different considerations to be made.
Consumers of IT take for granted what a complicated (and often political) process this is in a large organization!
Even a sole-proprietor IT business consulting to a single other person with a technical need to be met faces these issues in deciding what meets the need for the client. In short, what meets the client's needs is what the client agrees meets his/her needs. "Agrees" implies more than just cutting and pasting a spec sheet -- there are arguments to be made based on such foggy things as user preferences, which the user might not even know beforehand, and long-term impact analysis of the various options, which, if the user could do, would negate the need for technical consultation services! Promoting FOSS is likely one of the OP's strategies for maximizing positive impact and minimizing risk, not just an "agenda", but a professional stance based in reason and ethics.
You don't imagine that this process somehow evaporates when the "IT business" and client are parts of the same large institution, do you?
Note that they aren't changing their solutions for political reasons, they are truly better, not just open source and not-Microsoft.
I think that it isn't just better software, FOSS is a better solution for large organizations because they can make custom "in-house" changes, as they like, whenever they like. Changes can mean feature updates or interlinking with other services on campus, security customizations, etc, for which the large organization doesn't have to remain tied to software manufacturers or through ongoing service contracts. It saves money for everyone in the organization, provides students and alums with programming projects and jobs (if even short-term), and contributes humanitarian effort to the free development of technology in the world.
Best results might come from doing this with "Hello World", as well as doing similar activities with art, music, physics, language, and sports, in equal proportions.
Computer programming offers the ability for a child to explore at least the theoretical foundations of every discipline known to man. She can program musical ensembles with tones, harmonics, and rhythms, she can create graphic art and learn about color, light, motion, and composition, she can write games and calculate sports plays, and honestly are physics and math really questionable in the domain of programming? When I was 9, the first thing I did once comfortable in BASIC was to grab my dad's star charts and start writing up a solar system simulator, purely out of interest in physics, math, and astronomy! Programming is a tool for exploration... you're basically handing them the keys to the imaginable universe!
Should we teach our kids how to ride a motorcycle where pedaling isn't needed? Or do they need to learn to pedal before they ride a motorcycle?
Well, if they can't pedal they're not going to innovate better bicycles and tricycles, that's for sure. But back to your analogy with algorithms...
The question becomes, do you want your kid to grow up a mathematician, scientist, or engineer? Though it may not be immediately apparent, different programming mindsets are used for each of these disciplines, mainly due to the difference in the types of information needing to be computed and the types of problems to be solved.
A kid well-schooled in algorithms might build us better encryption (or prove it impossible!) or might solve complex science puzzles that have never before been computable in all of human history!
Clearly *both* algorithm development and library-navigation are important to innovation, just as it's important to know how to solve complex integrals before you go looking up solutions in a table... what other skill would you use when you discover that the algorithm you want doesn't exist (yet) ?
A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.