A teacher is assigning a student (name withheld) to detention for using “Foxfire” (sic) as his browser, instead of (what we are left to imagine as the prescribed browser for the school) the evil Internet Explorer.
This sad tale of cruel, unthinking authority (the school and Microsoft) crushing the freedom and agile creativity of our intelligent hero (the student and Mozilla) seems tailor-made to rally the outcries of geeks, open-source advocates, and libertarians everywhere. And perhaps “tailor-made” is exactly correct:
Recently, a file was uploaded to the Internet purporting to be a copy of a letter from Big Spring High School to a student regarding a two hour detention. The uploaded letter was an altered version of a detention letter sent to a student. Unfortunately, privacy concerns prevent the School District from giving a full explanation of the nature and source of the letter’s alteration at this time. The Big Spring School District does have confirmation that the discipline letter was altered.
The reports, blogs and other sources on the Internet indicating that a Big Spring student was assigned detention for using the Firefox internet browser instead of Internet Explorer are untrue and were based on the fake letter. Detention is assigned in our schools after appropriate warnings are given, if students continue to engage in non-academic activities or fail to follow a teacher’s directive during class time discipline can and will be assigned.
John C. Scudder
High School Principal
A posting on the Big Spring High School’s web site, which I easily found by Googling the name and city of the school from the letterhead.
So put your pitchforks away, folks.
What’s interesting is the debate this generated in the comments at Gizmodo about whether the school has the right to dictate what browser students can use on the school’s computers. My own feeling is that any organization has the right to limit what programs are run on their own network, but I also think that schools should allow and even encourage students to try out different browsers. In fact, if an admin is worried about security, then it’s IE that should be banned. What are your thoughts?