back to article Apologies after teacher's 'Linux holding back kids' claim

The leader of a US effort handing out PCs and CDs running Linux to kids has apologized to a teacher for "throwing her to the wolves" in a tirade online. HeliOS founder Ken Starks has blamed a misunderstanding for his blog post, which had criticized the Texas middle-school teacher after she'd attacked HeliOS for "misleading" …


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  1. iNPUt
    Paris Hilton


    This has to be a joke. How can a teacher be so stupid, and americans wonder why the world views them as being stupid. How can you expect children to learn anything in an enviroment like that.

    Paris because thats where she went to school.

  2. eric hanuise

    Helios posted a followup

    Helios later posted a followup on this, as many vindicative comments followed the first post, asking for the teacher's name to be revealed.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Might be good to include the follow up...

  4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  5. LaeMi Qian Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Who does this woman think she is?

    Confiscating something because she doesn't understand it and then embarking on a which-hunt for some reason it was illegal and hence justifying the confiscation after the fact. Who does this woman think she is? The government?

    Of course she might just be panicking because depriving people of legal possessions constitutes (even for a teacher) theft. I assume she didn't return the disks at the end of the school day which any reasonable court of law would likely accept.

    I'd say something about USians here but even here in Arsetralia, a good quarter of the people that graduated teacher training with me are not people I would want anywhere near a child's mind.

  6. John Dougherty

    A tad out of date

    The article is a little past "sell-by." Since the events described, Helios and the teacher have actually participated in some productive and less heated communication. The teacher was apparently first, trying to settle down some class disruption, and seized the CDs, uncertain what their content was. Apparently, according to later accounts, they were returned to the student after school. "Karen" is evidently now rather embarassed by the whole incident, and the Helios blogger has also cooled off. The teacher's linux education has commenced.

  7. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Not OK to be Different

    What this teacher is basically saying is that it's not OK to be different, which bothers me. Sure, WIndows runs 90% of the world's computers, but the teacher should be teaching history, math, language arts, etc., not operating systems. When this kid gets to high school, much less the real world, I'm sure WIndows (or whatever OS he/she's using) will be so different, it probably wouldn't really help to teach specific tasks.

  9. Kenny Swan

    Come on El Reg

    Maybe you should report the WHOLE story and not make this woman, stupid as she was, feel any worse.

  10. Rick Giles

    What the...??

    If this was a Mac FanGrrl, I could wave this off a a zealot. But a MS zealot?

    Maybe wheb she tried to run Linux, she had a base install that made you actually use your brain to find the libraries and shell scripts to make the think work. I guess all she wanted was to get right to the Backstreet Boys MP3...

  11. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    And the postscript

    This got a fair bit of coverage over on BoingBoing:

    The follow-up / postscript / happy ending is here:

    So flamethrowers can go back in the cupboard :)

  12. Samuel Walker


    "I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older verison [sic] of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them..."

    Wait... Wut?

    If I could have the phone number of the magical, charity giving MS i'd be on the phone straight away.

  13. Norman Wanzer

    Your kidding right?

    Wow. And I thought Texan's were just politically backwards...

  14. Anonymous Coward

    US teachers

    with such ignorant teachers, no wonder US students are on average the most ignorant worldwide, or is it just all those big macs killing their brain cells?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Before anyone goes off on one...

    This is old-ish news, and things have changed slightly... See helios' more recent blog entry - - fair play to helios for admitting to his mistakes, and it sounds like the teacher concerned is willing to learn too.

  16. Andrew Carpenter
    Thumb Down

    MS generosity?

    "I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older verison [sic] of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them..."

    Yeah, right. *Points at article about MS inflating the price of Windows XP in order to push Vista*

  17. Petrea Mitchell

    But they made up

    See part 2 of the story here:

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Could be worse

    could of been passing round Origin of Species

    Mine is the flame retardant one

  19. Damn Yank

    I also tried Linux during college...

    ... but I didn't inhale.

  20. Ewa Wdzieczak

    New Texas-originated illness?

    Uhm, Austinism? With all the respect to those who have autism, of course.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    From the country that bought you 'intelligent design'

    Comes a teacher who proves that not all design is intelligent!

  22. Anonymous Coward


    Just wow. I don't really know what to say. To say that I'm stunned by a public school teacher being so grossly and blatantly stupid would be a stretch. What wouldn't be is to say that even the most ill informed wintard is usually not this far out of touch with reality. I wonder if this "teacher" can be sacked for criminal stupidity?

    I'll get me own coat as I'm off anyway to thank my lucky stars that I wasn't subjected to twunts like this when I was in school.

  23. Schultz
    Thumb Up


    somebody rips the carnival mask from the ugly face of linux.

    Underneath: A text-based command shell? Bits of words beyond their expiry date?

    I never had the heart to look.

  24. crypt

    why use linux

    Stupid children -why learn the linux - you dont want to work for google or sun - or even use a free os thats almosty bullet proof

    go back to being good little consumers - and remember to buy new computers next year (or 2011) when window 7 comes out - <i>of course theyre</i> "vista capable" just not "7 capable"

    and remember to buy antivirus software , and firwalls because security costs extra.


  25. Christoph Silver badge

    Not all spent on M$

    It looks like she didn't spend of all that money on M$ products - some of it went for the Kool-Aid.

  26. John Colby

    A few days ago I posted on another story ...

    That I I was pleased I was wrong in that some sense had finally come out of America.

    I was wrong in that assumption.

  27. SysKoll
    Jobs Horns

    Toe the party line, you maggot!

    It gets better. The unnamed teacher then called Ken, the blog's author, complaining that she had been "thrown to the wolves" (and genuinely upset). This, in spite of her name not being released.

    Yes, that teacher's behavior was unflatterinly discussed in many online forums, but it's not like her name and address were on the web page. She was and remains an anonymous figure of ignorance.

    We should thank Karen for being such a wonderful stereotype. She's a product of a bureaucracy without any clue about software, yet she displays unbelievable condescension and spouts threats about a matter of which she doesn't know anything. "I don't know what you're proposing, but I think you should be jailed for disrupting the establishment. Toe the party line, you maggot!"

    And that, fellows, is the "progressive" system that's supposed to teach our kid how to think.

    Let's hope that at least, she learned something about Linux -- that is, apart from "don't ever piss off a bunch of nutso geeks with too much free time on their hands".

  28. Pierre Silver badge

    A school in Texas huh?

    Would Karen be less than convinced by the evolution or Big Bang theories by any chance? one of those teachers who think the universe was created by a god a few thousand years ago? In anyway, a perfect example of a FauxNews-fed paytard. "Free software? Must be some counterfeit pirated Chinese stuff downloaded via p2p shurely!"

    The part about MS is hillarious too. I think I will ask Stevie B. for a few free older versions of Windoze, and watch at the chairs flying!

  29. Anonymous Coward


    Once again I am reminded why the US educational system needs major oversight on the gullibility and plain stupidity of teachers. I am by no means a Linux or OSS evangelist, but at this point in time, all schools should be trying to free themselves of Microsoft's pathetic "Educational" licenses. While I agree somewhat with the teacher in that children should know their way around Windows since it is "used on most desktops" my point is why not both operating systems? Surely they can't have already judged America's youth to be so thick that all hope is lost? Have the students really become smarter than the teachers?

    Speaking of which, my niece told me the other day that her 9th grade science teacher told the class an example of plasma was mayonnaise and that milk sold in stores had human bones in it. Won't someone, somewhere please think of the damned Children? Pitiful.

  30. benzaholic

    This is Texas, after all

    We are one of the states in which the elected State Board of Education continues to argue over inclusion of Intelligent Design in the Science curriculum.

    I love it here (as they say, I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could), but we do still have the occasional intelligence problem.

    Mine's the one with the wear marks in front from the satellite-dish belt buckle.

  31. raving angry loony


    Hey, it's Texas. You've got to expect stuff like this in Texas.

  32. alex dekker

    Talk about being late to the party

    Why are you publishing this story without mentioning that the author of the blog cleared this up with 'Karen' three days ago?

  33. Tom Ranson
    Paris Hilton

    Is she for real?

    I mean, WTF?! Mines the straight jacket that I use to restrain myself in situations such as these.

    Paris, but even she knows better.

  34. Chris Pasiuk

    Texas... good to know.

    Right up there along side Kansas, Texas is now on my never-move-to list of states. I'm sure one teacher is not indicative of the whole state, but still, why take any risks. At least in the Bourbon drinking/mfg capital, we don't stunt our students in learning about alternative OS's.

    Is there any wonder why the US is in the crapper where tech is concerned?

  35. Some Guy

    Fake Letter

    My BS-Detector went off after reading this, especially the part about "I tried Linux in college" (but apparently didn't inhale)

  36. Emma

    Perhaps she just doesn't quite understand.

    The very fact that the teacher is aware that there are older versions of linux & Windows shows that she's coped with learning different systems (and, being US based, wonder if she's also tried Mac). It doesn't say much for the confidence she has in her students to learn a new Operating System (wonder if she's tried Windows 95/ME/Vista etc ... does 95 really help with Vista - or does it merely help to understand fundamentals of opening programs, saving files etc.

    I wonder if in part her over reaction is related to any crackdowns they've had recently on pirated software .... and she doesn't quite understand the difference.

  37. Neil Greatorex

    @Norman Wanzer

    "Your kidding right?"

    One can own a kidding?

    Erm, what is a kidding, is it like a figgy pudding?

  38. Bad Beaver
    Thumb Down

    Tell me it's a joke.


    I'm waiting.

    Still waiting... hello?

    Read the follow-up, it helps, but it still is SAD. This story says that ignorance out there teaches a new generation of compliant drones ready to serve MS without question. Those kids will get along just fine, they will be perfectly adapted to their environment... but they will be just that, functional. We need teachers who tell our kids to question the status quo, not to embrace it. And not only in IT, but in all fields.

  39. jack horner

    The teacher's second name is...

    Spreading communism in schools? That kid should get the chair.

    Don't you know that God used microsoft word to write the bible.

    (Don't tell me - she teaches creationism too...doesn't she?)



  40. Kelvin P
    IT Angle

    Linux in college

    "I, along with many others, tried Linux in college, but I /never/ inhaled."

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Cut the teacher some slack!

    Before the enlightened Linux fans begin rousing and writing stirring emotional responses I think it needs to be mentioned that after calming down a bit the Linux aficionado from Helios has posted a follow up article on his blog here...

    It's worth reading if only to get some more insight into the circumstances surrounding the seizure of the childs Linux discs. I know it's a long article but hopefully reading it will prevent too many commentards from scawling their thoughts all over the comment section. I would have thought that someone at El-Reg (being a respectful tech news site) would have perhaps READ the follow up blog posting before putting this story on the site. Come on, wake up sub-editors!

  42. Chronos Silver badge

    Yet again

    ...George Carlin is proved right. School in the US is the place where children are sent to be stripped of every trace of individuality and forced to become conformist consumer automatons bowing to the will of their corporate masters. Just like the UK, in fact.

    I will miss that man. He, at least, knew what the fuck he was talking about.

  43. Warhelmet
    Gates Horns

    I'm a PC

    I have no walls.

  44. Steve Coffman

    The reality of educational software

    I agree that having a free OS and other software suites would be a good thing in saving school districts money. However, the reality is that the vast majority of educational software is developed for Windows, a small amount for Macs, and almost nothing for Linux. If all the students needed was a desktop OS where they could get on the Internet and type up a paper, or work on a PowerPoint-type presentation an open-source solution would be fine. However, a lot of software and hardware used in industry do not have any Linux versions - such as CAD/CAM software including AutoCAD, MasterCAM, Chief Architect, Rhino 3D, etc. Also, hardware such as laser engravers, CNC machines and dimensional printers do not have Linux driver support - nor do the majority of them run on Macs. The vast majority of educational software does not have Linux versions - software that comes with textbooks, online learning systems, etc..

    Sure, you could run a Windows emulator on top of Linux, but if you were to look at what most school districts have for computers they just don't have the power to be able to do that... how well do you think Win XP would run on top of Linux with emulation with only 256MB of RAM? The reality is a lot of schools and districts don't have the money to upgrade or buy new computer systems. They're stuck with what they've got, which in a lot of cases are 5-7 year old computers. So until developers start porting or developing educational software that runs natively under Linux, it isn't going to be widely adopted. As a matter of fact one school district in my area converted over to Linux desktops only to convert back to Windows due to compatibility issues with their existing sever infrastructure. And attempting to support two separate OS platforms means the IT staff has to be trained in both, or have larger staffs with dedicated techs - which incurs more man-hours and ultimately costs more money. So before you start promoting open-source as a cost-saving measure for schools, you have to look at the whole picture and see what the existing infrastructure is and what software and hardware is actually being used in an educational setting.

  45. Ashley Stevens

    HeliOs PR?

    I'm no MS lover but unless the teacher is actually named then I would tend to assume that this is a PR stunt by HeliOS. Seems to have worked quite well......

  46. Anonymous Coward

    i know her pain

    i too have been raped by a horde of angry penguins, and it wasn't that pleasant.

  47. Stephen Sherry

    its like corporations

    If the people in charge don't know how to use it, it's obviously useless

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not a fan of linux by a long way....


    Kids should have lessons on other OS's than the Microsoft flavors...

    That's the problem these days.. all they learn is windows, and because it IS easy to use and set up and administer that's what gets installed everywhere and there are lots of people that can support it.

    as "JIM THE BOSS" so badly put it, because there is a massive shortage of Linux gurus the TCO of a Linux server can, because of support costs, be a lot higher than a windows environment..

    I am not a fan of Linux as a desktop environment, it still has a long way to go to become main-stream, but as a server environment i don't think you can go too far wrong.

    As more people become technically savvy with Linux, and the more linux people there are in the workplace, the TOC will fall below that of a windows server. that is until Microsoft alter the ridiculous licensing they introduced for windows 2003 server onwards...

  49. mittfh

    Ho hum....

    " you with copies of an older verison [sic] of Windows..."

    As long as you supply them with an advance payment to cover admin charges and shipping...

    Unless they've got a few unsold copies of version 1 lying around, which they might be prepared to let go for only P&P...


    Precisely. *Any* common idiot. Including Jim.

    Strictly speaking, any common idiot can abuse Windoze (e.g. sending HTML emails, sending unencrypted plaintext confidential emails, not installing any AV), but IMHO the fact you have to have a modicum of sense to use alternatives can only be a good thing.


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