Last week, a student at Big Spring High School in Newville, Pennsylvania was supposedly given detention for using Firefox on a school computer. Quoted below is the key explanation from the "official" detention writeup:
Today in class [name] had a program launched called Foxfire.exe. I had told [name] to close the program and to resume work but he told me that is was just a different browser and that he was doing his work. I had given him two warnings but he insisted that it was just a "better" browser and he wasn't doing anything wrong. I had then issued his detention.
Note that I put "official" in scare quotes. Here's why:
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
I give the little punk credit for turning whatever minor disciplinary kerfuffle that actually occurred into a short-lived flame-o-rama, but the blogosphere is subtle and quick to anger, and we are not at all pleased when our righteous indignation or snarky commentary is undermined by a convenient discovery of fact. Sure, dumb teachers and Microsoft hegemony are easy targets (heaven knows I go to that well as often as possible), but there are plenty of actual example of educational deficiency and software stupidity that we don't need to go making up new ones. Next time, use your powers for good.
Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.