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Sign this petition for freedom in the classroom

by Greg Farough Contributions Published on Jul 21, 2020 05:19 PM

Read, sign, and share the petition:

Illustration of a student being spied on while seated at a computer.
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As we've recently written, learning remotely does not have to (and shouldn't have to) mean forsaking basic freedoms. New developments in the remote education landscape have only contributed to the worrying trend of treating the school as a testing ground for ubiquitous surveillance and other dystopian practices. This is especially dangerous for digitally native children, who may be unaware that there are alternatives, let alone that the perceived "alternative" is in actuality the only ethical option.

As discussion among free software activists on our libreplanet-discuss mailing list has shown in recent weeks, digital education can thrive when we make freedom a priority. No student should have to trade their freedom for an education. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has already worked together with an MIT professor to free his classes, and have been sharing our knowledge with the Boston public school system. Today, we're taking the next step in that commitment.

Beginning today, we are working to change the remote education landscape with a new petition targeting the serious harm proprietary software poses to students, and at the same time, emphasizing the idea that there is an ethical solution. Whether it's Microsoft Teams being used to connect students to each other, Google Classroom being used to write every document, or Zoom being used for the classroom session itself, we want to get the message across that the only acceptable answer when it comes to how much proprietary software should be permitted in schools is none. Making students depend on nonfree software to learn is not only harmful to them in the short-term, but it is a failed opportunity to impart the values of free access, studying, sharing, and collaboration.

At the FSF, we are working hard to make free software a kitchen table issue: one that's spoken about and taken seriously by people from all walks of life, and is not just a cause taken up by a small but impassioned community. We understand that speaking up for yourself about these issues can be difficult, which is why we're offering to put our voice behind yours as the leading organization in the movement. When signing the petition, you have the option to let us know if you're a student, parent, teacher, or administrator of a school that requires the use of proprietary software. We'll get in touch with their administration on your behalf, and let them know that a global community of activists and everyday people alike have signed a statement in support of free software in education.

This initiative and petition were motivated by the loss of student rights caused by the pandemic, but we don't plan to call it quits when the novel coronavirus is finally under control. We envision this statement having a permanent place on, and we are committed to getting in touch with as many schools as we can as part of our efforts to encourage free software adoption.

Your standing together with us on this issue means the world to us. The success of any petition is only as strong as its messaging and the people who rally behind it, which is why we deeply appreciate you taking the time to sign. Signing this statement of principles is one way we're offering you to help put "freedom in action" during our summer appeal, and to be a voice for #UserFreedom around the world.

For thirty-five years, the FSF has been campaigning for complete software freedom. In all that time, and though it would have been convenient and popular to do so, we've never compromised our principles. Being the "last lighthouse" of user freedom means keeping a vigilant eye on the state of how computer software is being used to help or harm those who depend on it. Please take a moment to sign the petition to stand up for the rights of students everywhere, whether those rights are your own, your child's, or simply those of someone you know. Together, we can sever the connection education has to proprietary software, and nurture freedom instead.

Read this article in Brazilian Portuguese at

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