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Letter to Vermont Legislators

A couple of days ago I completed and sent out a letter to the members of the Vermont Legislature’s Committees on Education. The letter was designed to make legislators aware of the benefits of using free software in schools, and to give them some ideas about how to promote its adoption at a time when school budgets are inflating around the state and the governor is introducing cost containment legislation.

The letter makes several essential points:

  1. When used in schools, free (as in “freedom”) software can significantly reduce education spending because:
    • it generally costs nothing to obtain and copy; there are no license fees to pay, and no restrictions on its use
    • it is more stable and more secure than proprietary software, so it costs less to maintain
    • it allows school districts and the state to pool their financial resources to purchase software services needed by all
  2. Free software has other benefits for students and educators, such as:
    • giving teachers more control over how they use technology in the classroom
    • encouraging student curiosity about how computers and software
      work, instead of forbidding it
    • exposing students to the social values of cooperation and
      helping their neighbors
    • giving parents and community members more freedom over the
      software they use outside of schools
  3. The Vermont Legislature can promote the adoption of free software
    in schools by:

    • providing short-term grants to re-train staff in districts that pledge to use free software
    • granting districts which pledge to use free software full or partial exemption from cost containment laws
    • supporting future laws which facilitate free software
      distribution between districts, and which provide state funds for free
      software development

The letter was cosigned by members of the Vermont Area Group of Unix Enthusiasts, and is available on their wiki here. You can also download a PDF version.

As with my earlier letter to the Vermont NEA, you are free to copy and modify this letter under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Please do not attribute any changes you make to me; but please do make changes, and send it to your own legislative representatives!

Creative Commons License

This letter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.


Written by whereofwecannotspeak

March 8, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Free Software

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