Thousands of signatures still needed by January 16th to push the US government to embrace FOSS in our schools.

A petition posted to the Whitehouse's website still has many signatures to go before the administration will be required to address it. Which is frankly surprising considering the size and connection of our community, and the importance of the petition.

We in the Free Software communities know how important Free Software is. It is not merely an abstract freedom, but the various side effects as well. Before I became acquainted with FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) computers were still obscured to me, and esoteric mystery. Granted, I had a more advanced understanding than most, hence why I came to Linux. But it was not until I dove in that I came to really understand computers. Everything from the Object Oriented paradigm to user interface principals finally made sense. The amazing resource of learning that FOSS provides cannot be underestimated, but only underappreciated.

Our schools in particular stand to benefit from FOSS. The enormous savings to taxpayers, both from the software being free of cost, and not being subject to the faults of Windows and its insecurity is staggering. Further, there is an enormous library of educational software as well as software made for the administration of learning spaces and libraries... all readily available and free of any cost. Finally, as computers continue to become pivotal to our society and the future, it behooves us to make sure that children are learning these technologies. Particularly, the availability of high grade development tools would greatly aide in making affordable programming classes for our children.

In the words of the petition:

"Each year our educational system wastes billions of dollars for the purchase and support of proprietary operating systems and application software in our schools. The software is rigid and inflexible, opaque in its design and mysterious to our children.

We advocate and propose the gradual replacement of privately owned software with restrictive licensing in favor of open source alternatives with GPL type licenses. In as much as possible we should have our students using software that complies with the definition of free software as defined by the Free Software Foundation.

The GNU/Linux operating system, underlying source code, tools and documentation are readily available to students already. Their use should be encouraged as the tools and code are available cost free."

I feel very strongly that we should not stand idly by, but should at the least sign and advocate this petition.


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