clever lawyers, public-relations brainstorms and a giant corporation's ardor 
Author Message
 clever lawyers, public-relations brainstorms and a giant corporation's ardor

November 28, 2001
Microsoft Settlement Won't Benefit Schools
By Chester E. Finn Jr. Mr. Finn is president of the Thomas B. Fordham
Foundation and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Seeking to end its remaining antitrust woes by settling more than 100
class-action lawsuits with minimum hassle and maximum glory, Microsoft has
agreed to contribute a billion-plus dollars worth of software, computer
equipment, technology training and cash to some 12,500 impoverished schools.
While admitting no wrongdoing, the company is making this offer in lieu of
returning money to millions of individual consumers who, say their
attorneys, were overcharged because of Microsoft's monopolistic pricing

If accepted by all the plaintiffs' lawyers and OK'd by federal Judge J.
Frederick Motz -- who held a hearing on the matter yesterday -- the deal
provides that eligible public schools (those with at least 70% of students
qualifying for subsidized lunches under federal poverty guidelines) can
obtain free software, technology grants from a new foundation to be endowed
by the corporation, teacher training and tech support, and bargain prices on
a million reconditioned computers. Microsoft will also pay the attorneys'

This package was devised by class-action lawyer Michael Hausfeld, who says
that a more conventional settlement, after administrative and legal fees are
subtracted, would yield only tiny sums (e.g. $10 apiece) for millions of
former computer buyers. Instead, he explained, "We had a chance to create a
really significant social benefit."

Microsoft seems to agree with that reasoning, no doubt viewing this
settlement as a way to make public-relations lemonade from all those sour
class-action suits. Nor is its cost all that burdensome; despite the
"billion dollar" hype, the company's actual after-tax cost is estimated at
about $375 million.

This deal has three dubious features that Judge Motz should consider.

First, it clothes that ignoble species known as plaintiffs' bar lawyers in
the spiffy garb of socially conscious policy activists, giving away other
people's money for ostensibly worthy causes -- in this case "narrowing the
digital divide" -- while getting handsomely paid themselves.

Second, as Apple's Steve Jobs protested at yesterday's hearing, it
strengthens Microsoft's quest for {*filter*} in the school computing
market -- one of the rare domains where rival software makers have given the
giant firm a fight. Though CEO Steve Ballmer denies that this is "some big
thing about market share," it cannot but deepen schools' dependency on his
products. Thus a settlement reached in the name of compensating Americans
for alleged anti-competitive practices in one market will aggravate that
pattern in another. Some of the antitrust lawyers have figured this out and
are opposing the deal. If it goes through, one California attorney notes,
Microsoft "can use its software to further entrench itself in the education

Third and most important, despite Mr. Ballmer's claim that this agreement
will "really make a difference in the lives of children in some of America's
most disadvantaged school districts," it probably won't. Lack of technology
is not the main problem these schools face. Seen from the perspective of
education reform, this is another handout program, an overgrown version of
the Lady Bountiful projects that hundreds of corporate donors have mounted
over the past 20 years. Like all such schemes, it hinges on the flawed
assumption that adding resources to low-performing schools will boost their

Yet we've known since the famed Coleman Report of 1966 that no clear link
exists between what goes into a school and what comes out. Worse, for all
the genuine promise of educational technology, study after study has shown
that adding computers to otherwise-unchanged schools doesn't raise student
achievement. Like bringing in baskets of Hollywood movies or rows of TVs, it
can even worsen matters by giving teachers more ways to distract kids rather
than instructing them.

Schools that succeed with low-income pupils don't generally surround them
with electronics. They engage knowledgeable and committed teachers to
deliver a powerful, coherent curriculum built on high standards of skills
and knowledge. They are orderly, well-led places, focused on academic
learning. Many of them are schools of choice -- charter schools, magnet
schools, private schools -- that must compete for students and resources.
They may deploy technology, but only as an instructional tool akin to good
textbooks and well-stocked library shelves.

Plenty of successful schools boast very little fancy hardware even as far
too many schools brim with electronic gadgetry but yield dismal academic
results. It's like adding candy to those subsidized lunches; the kids may be
happier but they're no better nourished.

Some of the Microsofties know this. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
sponsors a number of promising low-tech education reform efforts, such as
replicating successful schools and replacing vast, impersonal high schools
with smaller units. They're also experimenting imaginatively with

But the proposed antitrust settlement harkens back to an earlier era of
philanthropy that concentrated on school resources rather than results. The
pending deal has more to do with clever lawyers, public-relations
brainstorms and a giant corporation's ardor to put its legal challenges
behind it than with education changes that would actually benefit poor kids.
URL for this Article:
Copyright ? 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Printing, distribution, and use of this material is governed by your
Subscription Agreement and copyright laws.
For information about subscribing, go to http://www.*-*-*.com/
Red Hat Proposes to Enhance Microsoft Settlement Offer By Providing Open
Source Software to All U.S. School Districts

 Open Source leader proposes to provide software to every school district in
the United States if Microsoft provides computing hardware for the 14,000
poorest school districts

(Nasdaq:RHAT - news) today proposed an alternative to the settlement
announced today of the class-action lawsuit against Microsoft. Red Hat
offered to provide open-source software to every school district in the
United States free of charge, encouraging Microsoft to redirect the money it
would have spent on software into purchasing more hardware for the 14,000
poorest school districts. Under the Red Hat proposal, by removing
Microsoft's higher-priced software from the settlement equation, Microsoft
could provide the school districts with many more computers--greatly
extending the benefits Microsoft seeks to provide school districts with
their proposed settlement.

Microsoft had proposed that, in settlement of class-action claims of
price-gouging, the company donate computer hardware, software and support to
14,000 poor school districts throughout the United States. Under the
proposed settlement, a substantial part of the value provided to schools
would be in the form of Microsoft software.

The Red Hat's alternative proposal includes the following:

Microsoft redirects the value of their proposed software donation to the
purchase of additional hardware for the school districts. This would
increase the number of computers available under the original proposal from
200,000 to more than one million, and would increase the number of systems
per school from approximately 14 to at least 70.
Red Hat, Inc. will provide free of charge the open-source Red Hat Linux
operating system, office applications and associated capabilities to any
school system in the United States.
Red Hat will provide online support for the software through the Red Hat
Unlike the Microsoft proposal, which has a five-year time limit at which
point schools would have to pay Microsoft to renew their licenses and
upgrade the software, the Red Hat proposal has no time limit. Red Hat will
provide software upgrades through the Red Hat Network online distribution

A Win-Win Approach
The Red Hat proposal achieves two important goals: improving the quality and
accessibility of computing education in the nation's less-privileged
schools, and preventing the extension of Microsoft's monopoly to the
most-vulnerable users.

"While we applaud Microsoft for raising the idea of helping poorer schools
as part of the penalty phase of their conviction for monopolistic practices,
we do not think that the remedy should be a mechanism by which Microsoft can
further extend its monopoly," said Matthew Szulik, CEO of Red Hat. "Through
this proposal all of the states and all of the schools can win, and
Microsoft will achieve even greater success for its stated goal of helping
schools. By providing schools with a software choice, Red Hat will enable
Microsoft to provide many more computers to these schools. At the same time,
the schools can accept this offer secure in the knowledge that they have not
rewarded a monopolist by extending the monopoly. It's now up to Microsoft to
demonstrate that they are truly serious about helping our schools."

General information about Red Hat's support for education is available at

About Red Hat, Inc.
Red Hat is the leader in developing, deploying and managing solutions built
on the benefits of an open source platform. The open source platform
includes the Red Hat Linux operating system for mainframes, servers,
workstations and embedded devices, GNUPro tools for developers, database,
e-Commerce, secure web server, high availability server and run-time
solutions like eCos and RedBoot. For this platform, Red Hat provides end to
end professional services including Professional Consulting, Engineering
services, Enterprise Support services, and Global Learning services. Red Hat
Network is the premier Internet based service that simplifies and integrates
the deployment and management of these offers. More information about Red
Hat is available at Red Hat is headquartered in Research
Triangle Park, N.C.and has offices worldwide. For investor inquiries,
contact Gabriel Szulik at Red Hat, 919-547-0012, x439.

LINUX is a trademark of Linus Torvalds. RED HAT is a registered trademark of
Red Hat, Inc. All other names and trademarks are the property of their
respective owners.

To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

LogoForum messages are archived at:

Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://www.*-*-*.com/

Mon, 17 May 2004 14:31:09 GMT  
 [ 1 post ] 

 Relevant Pages 

1. clever lawyers, public-relations brainstorms and a giant corporation's ardor

2. Public Relations, Corba, Documentation, and Eggs

3. A number of queries from a newbie who isn't very clever

4. casecrash: language lawyers: C'mon!

5. Rational Software Corporation and Martin Marietta's ACC form strategic partnership

6. APL's relation to perl

7. One more "Giant Canvas" question

8. giant index files



11. Z-world Little Giant drivers

12. Scientists Stunned as Writer Evolves into Giant Fern 462


Powered by phpBB® Forum Software