An ethical dilemma of sorts - High School teachers & administors specifical invited

Note that I did not claim fair use applies in this situation. I only noted that the teacher may have mistakenly thought it does apply. Misunderstanding fair use is a very common problem.

Regardless, I don’t think this man should lose his job for trying to save this family some money.

An innocent suggestion intended to save money on educational products for a kid from a struggling family is exactly the same as a large corporation knowingly defrauding its own stockholders and the state of California. It’s good that you’re keeping everything in perspective.

I understand you believe your child has no reason to lie, and wouldn’t, but it’s possib;e he misinterpreted an observation as a siggestion. I think it’s important that you personally speak to the instructor to rule out some misunderstanding.

If it gets repeated to you, I don’t think you have much choice but to go to the principal. He is instructing his charges to commit crimes , and at the very least get your kid out of that class.

My suggestion is that you simply approach this as a logistics question to be solved. All that concerns you is that it will satisfy the course requirements, be affordable, and be legal. And it seems there are several options that might work.

Maybe you have some other software around that would suffice. Really, there’s almost nothing that you can do in Power Point that you can’t also do in Word or WordPerfect. Maybe you can get a one-generation-old, but legal, Power Point copy for free or incredibly cheap.

There’s no reason that TeenSthrnAccent can’t continue to use it even when you’re more financially liquid. It’s entirely compatible w/MS Office products and that’s $35 you can put toward a family fun night or a new winter jacket for a kidlet rather than into the coffers of Microsoft.

As for the teacher, I would recommend a conference with him, as well. If he suggests bootlegging to you, remind him that this is illegal, and that there are legal options – like OpenOffice and StarOffice – which can provide Powerpoint functionality without violating anyone’s copyrights or license agreements. Remind him also that bootlegged software downloaded from the internet is an outstanding vector for virii, Trojans, worms and other nastiness which could easily cripple your computer or make you and your family vulnerable to identity theft and financial fraud. Remind him also that as a teacher he has a responsibility to limit his suggestions to that which is ethical and legal. If he doesn’t accept such criticism well, with an apology for making such a reckless, inappropriate suggestion to TeenSthrnAccent, then go to the administration.

Another vote for using OpenOffice - I have had a number of classes which “required” the use of Powerpoint - I used OpenOffice to make my presentations, and the instructors didn’t notice it at all.

Yet another vote for OpenOffice. I occaisionally get Powerpoint glurges from my sister, and OpenOffice opens them without problem.

“Kittens with vaguely-spiritual sayings! How …cute!”

So, has come that far? Damn. I might be able to get rid of Windows once and for all. :slight_smile:

And, yes, there’s really no reason to pay for horribly overpriced Microsoft stuff when there’s cheaper (free, even) alternatives which will do the same job just as well (if not better). Put the money towards a nice winter coat or a good calculator.

Third teacher chiming in. Best advice comes somewhere between silenus and TeaElle. It addresses the immediate problem obtaining comparable software for your child to do the assignment(s) while giving you a fair and equitable way of dealing with an instructor who has given your child advice which should never come from a teacher.

Third option: an anonymous note. Print this thread, mark appropriate portions with a highlighter and mail it to him at school with the note: “I’m still debating whether I should bring this up with your boss or not.”
Heh. Betcha it scares the beejeezus out of him.

Good God folks. Overreact much?

We’re talking about a teacher giving a quick’n’dirty suggestion to help a bright kid do his homework, not steal credit card numbers and set off nuclear bombs. If I had a kid in the same position, my first reaction (before thinking beyond the immediate needs of this poor education-hungry kid to his potentially wrathful parents and the needs of Microsoft to make another $35.00) would be the same.

I appeciate your efforts to instill your values in your kid, but I don’t think this is something to threaten someone’s job over. He was merely trying to come up with a solution that didn’t involve telling the kid “thats just too bad” or rewriting the whole year’s cirriculum. And frankly stayng after school to do the work on one of the lab’s many idle computers is not qualitatively all the different than doing the same thing a couple miles away at home. Teacher often stretch the limits of “fair use” (if they didn’t, they’d never be able to show the movie versions of books in class) and I can see how this solution might be the first one to come to mind.

FWIW, if your kid plans to do computer maintance, pirating is a fact of life. I don’t know a single IT professional (although I’m sure plenty are about to come out of the woodwork) that doesn’t have a binder full of Windows 2000 disks, CD burning software, unlicensed copies WinZip and the like. When some old lady’s hard drive melts down and and her Dell only came with a restore disk, you arn’t going to tell her she’s gonna have to shell out another couple hundred for a new OS. Heck, Windows recently restricted access to a very very critical update…getting it off of a file sharing service was the only way to quickly patch the security holes. Pirateing may be wrong, but unless you are working for a corporation with limitless IT funds, it’s going to come up and sometimes it is going to be the best option.

I think you ought to check into the other side of the story. That is, after all, the first thing the administration will do if you take this to them. And if it turns out that your son was mistaken, or misunderstood, or put words in his teacher’s mouth, it’s not going to paint you in a very flattering light. You won’t look as ridiculous as the woman who was screaming for my mother’s head on a silver platter for calling her kid a whoremonger, but it won’t be flattering. (Mom had caught him grab-assing around with some of the girls and given them all a talk about raging hormones.) Talk to the teacher. If he really is suggesting you pirate software, nail his ass to the wall. If he’s not, it’s better for everyone concerned for you to find out before talking to the administration.

A damn from me, too. I even have Open Office on my computer, I had no idea it could do PowerPoint presentations. I spent $80 (academic pricing) on MS Office for my class that required a PowerPoint presentation this summer. My professor didn’t instruct us to download an illegal copy, she told us to use the lab computers. I could have used the lab computers (that is what most of my fellow students did), but I like working on my home computer, I have all my graphics here and the school computers have really bad refresh rates. They give me a headache.


I daresay the three teachers who’ve posted to this thread understand the ramifications better than you, sven. The ethical problem here is the teacher as an authority figure expressly directing a kid to break the law. It’s an understandable impulse but there is no excuse for it.

Now, there are some students/parents who you say something like this to and they’ll say, “Cool. How?” Their willingness to do so doesn’t mitigate the flagrant wrongdoing. Your expertise in easily providing something for free they can’t afford to pay for doesn’t absolve the teacher who instigates the theft.

I can easily imagine a scenario where something like this spirals out of control, prompting legal action against school districts nationwide. All it takes is one stupid AP headline and a slow news week: “Teacher tells student to steal software from internet.”

Jesus. Like I don’t have enough technology in-services to sit through.

That said, this is something I probrably would have done myself, unthinkingly, once upon a time. The note would have gotten MY attention.

Another high school teacher checking in.

Silenus is entirely correct. And any teacher who suggests that a kid steal or bootleg any kind of software is an idiot, and his administrators should be informed of this.

$80? You poor SOB. :wink: I don’t pay that much for OSes these days.

(Books usually top out around $50, less my 10% discount from my Barnes&Noble card, and CheapBytes sells install CDs for a song.)

Now, my pair of worthless coppers: I think the teacher was wrong, but only because he’s a teacher setting an example for a student. It’s a law I agree with, in fact, even though I strongly disagree with Microsoft’s abuse of it. The teacher should have installed PowerPoint on a school lab machine and set up before or after class times for the kid to use it. Or, ideally, he should have suggested OpenOffice.

I’ve got only the best things to say about OpenOffice. Using a combination of their software and Open For Business, I’ve saved a ton of money on operating costs for my new business.

Open For Business still needs a little work, but it’s a great open source solution for accounting & marketing results analysis. Another good open source is Gimp - it’s a great substitute for graphics manipulation software like Photoshop, but it’s much more userful if you’re already familiar with graphics manipulation software.