[OT] documents for the general public need to be generally readable

Bart Silverstrim bsilver at chrononomicon.com
Wed Oct 29 15:29:20 UTC 2008

Wade Smart wrote:

> If it was just one teacher it would be one thing, though I have had this 
> talk with all of his teachers to date, but its ALL of the teachers. I 
> even received something from the district this morning and it too was docx.
> Avi just posted about them assuming that every student has a computer. I 
> know of many who do not. They have expensive cell phone plans for 
> unlimited text messaging but no computer.

When kids have these expensive cellphones and cars with mods up the 
wazoo but no computer, that's not the district's problem. It's a lack of 
priorities for the student.

On top of that, the school has labs, as do local libraries now (if 
you're in the United States, which is a base assumption I'm making 
here...correct me if I'm wrong. But I hear similar arguments all the 
time where I'm from).

With library access, laptops hitting the $600 mark and systems available 
for less from ebay, there's really not much reason someone can't, within 
reason, get access to a computer somehow if they really try.

> Some do this others do not. I had an argument with a teacher who refused 
> to send out a form in a format I could read. I didn't sign it as I 
> couldn't open it. They now claim as I didn't sign it my son cant go on 
> such and such field trip (which is a required part of his grade). Our 
> lawyer is now involved as they failed him on that.

If the teacher won't cooperate, you take it to the principal. If you 
fail to get results there, you take it to the superintendent. If you 
can't get results there, you take it to the school board. All else 
fails, you have the teacher give a paper copy or you rant to the local 
newspaper about the injustice or you take it to slashdot and hope the 
nutters start calling on your behalf to embarrass your school district 
into helping or you bend over to their will and look for a converter; 
OpenOffice has been making headway into converting Docx format...

Your best bet if this really really puts a bug in your drawers is to 
befriend a school board member and start asking them to help you.

In truth I don't know where you are or if your local flavor of your 
district is this obstinate or if there's more to the story than you're 
revealing, as I've never run across a situation where you find a need to 
escalate past the superintendent when having a problem with a 
teacher...especially over something like emailed document format. You 
can't be the only one having problems reading Docx so I don't understand 
why your email sounds like a David vs. Goliath situation...

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