By watching your posts, and references to "Cults". I come away with the eeling that you are nit understanding the open nature of the XO. It is very easy to make XO's boot something other then Sugar. Sugar and Linux are both open source so if peopel weren't happy with it they are more then welcome to submit changes. I think using your very polarized examples of "cult" vs "benovolent", Microsoft would fall closer to the "cult" side as they do not allow input, their source is a arcane secret help by a select few, etc.
Sugar is now it's own project over at sugarlabs.org. I'm sure they would be pleased to explain the thinking behind the interface. I certainly see several featues in the Sugar interface that I wouldn't mind seeing coming into the "main stream" desktops. The zooming paradigm, the journal and the integrated collaboration are great ideas. The "view source" funtion (especially once it is more universally implimented) is one of the best ideas I've seen and another one that would be nice to see come to "mainstream" desktops.
I've also become a little unclear as this thread has evolved as to what your concern is. Is sugar better from an educational standpoint? My feeling aster using it for a several weeks now is "Yes". I am finding the the Jorunal does create reflective mood (more then once I've looked at it and had a much clearer idea of how I have been spending my time on the computer. (often "eeesshh! thats a lot of Browse"
). I however am not an education professional. Sugar is also not a static construct and I sure it will evolve as most open source projects do.