This was sent to the members of LM_Net (of which I am not a member) and to members of the WWWEDU Yahoo group (of which I AM a member–who mostly just lurks!) The WWWEDU group is basically a list serv, but Nancy Willard is a member who posts excellent content regularly, and so I ALWAYS read her posts. Her passion always comes through loud and clear.
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil
I’ve had many posts before about filtering (here’s one, another, and another.) I plan to use some of them as I formulate my response. My favorites are posts about how filtering causes a digital gap and how these make educators complacent–about teaching with the Internet and with allowing students to search without formal instruction (because they think the filter will protect them.) Most of us realize the filters only keep the very young and the very techno-illiterate teachers from content deemed inappropriate, whether it is or not the vast majority of kids know precisely how to get to their content. Many educators believe filters will keep students from hearing, seeing, or making bad choices online. To that I say phooey. But I also say a lot of times “ignorance is bliss”–though that is by no means an excuse.
Nancy Willard’s plea to educators:
I am pasting with permission Nancy’s plea below in full in hopes that readers here will act on her post.
I am sorry I am delayed with this – I am doing way too much. But
fortunately, there is a week for you to respond. The FCC is currently in the process of soliciting comments in a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to determine what “educating minors about appropriate online behavior” actually means, i.e. what schools will be required to certify that they are doing. The proposed regulations related to the new education about minors are very general – as I anticipated and said before. All they want schools to do is certify that they are providing this education. You also have to change your board policy that says you are providing this education.
You can find an article that links to the regulations here:
There was a deadline to file comments by tomorrow, but this has been extended until the 25th.
Here is what is most important. The FCC also asks for information on two other points that are especially important. One is they want to know how schools are making a determination of what material is “harmful to minors.” According to the statute the term “harmful to minors” means any picture, image, graphic image file, or other visual depiction that
(A) taken as a whole and with respect to minors, appeals to a prurient interest in nudity, sex, or excretion;
(B) depicts, describes, or represents, in a patently offensive way with respect to what is suitable for minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual acts, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals; and
(C) taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value as to minors.
They want to know how you – school districts – are interpreting this and how you are incorporating community standards. This is flat out BS. (excuse me) School districts have no ability whatsoever to make these determinations. All you can do is select the most appropriate categories provided by the filtering company – under conditions where you do not know actually what the filtering company is blocking in its categories and the blocking decisions of the company are a protected trade secret.
They also want to know how you are providing for overrides – which in most school districts is simply not occurring – or is not something that can happen fast enough to allow for effective education.
The most important thing that the FCC needs to hear is that all of this money they are spending for telecommunications is not doing anywhere near what it could be doing – and in many ways this is because of CIPA. Read here: <http://www.ednetnews.com/story-2332-3.html> “Despite overwhelming agreement among parents, teachers and principals that the effective implementation of technology in schools is crucial to student success, students say they “step back in time” when they enter the school building each morning, according to today’s release of the 2008 Speak Up survey.” “Through Speak Up, students consistently report they are inhibited from effectively using computers or the Internet at school. Besides lack of time at school to use technology, students (6th-12th grade) report their technology use is impeded by the ever present school filters or firewalls which block access to websites they need (43 percent), teachers who limit their technology use (35 percent) and rules that limit their use of technology at school (26 percent).”
The other thing that is very evident is that they still believe filters are effective. Apparently no one has told them about all of the developments that allow people to bypass filters – developed for the dissidents in the Middle East and Asia – and how any high school students can easily bypass the school’s filter – it is just the adult staff who do not do this.
So here is what I suggest. You can take the time to read the proposed regulations. The most important thing the FTC needs to hear from educators from throughout the country is that the manner in which the CIPA requirement has been implemented in schools is preventing schools from effectively using technologies for instructional purposes. Point out: That schools have no control over deciding what is blocked – and there is no mechanism to hold the filtering companies accountable for their decisions. That in most schools they are so afraid of some consequence like losing erate funds, that no one is allowed to override the filter. That because of this many teachers are not willing to even try to use the Internet for instruction – because they are too often blocked by the filter from getting to the sites they need. That students can easily bypass the filters.
I suggest encouraging them to implement a study of this – because all of that money they are providing for telecommunciations is not being used wisely because of CIPA.
The people the FCC needs to hear from is YOU!!! YOU have important stories to tell. Don’t worry about writing some professional-sounding document. Just be yourself and tell your story about filtering in your own words. Please they need to hear from you. Tell them this is not working.
To file a comment in the e-rate matter first write your comment in Word – you will have to upload this:
- Go to http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/
- Click on “search for proceedings”
- Next to “proceeding number” enter 02-6 and press enter
- You should now be on a page that that shows “Proceeding 02-6 Details” with the Subject ” In the Matter of Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism” Here you will see “Recent Public Filings” which includes any filing on this docket number and on the right side of the page, it should read ” 140 total FCC filings.” To read the filing I’m referring to, click on ” Common Carrier Bureau – NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING” with the date received of 11/4/09.
- To file a comment, click on “submit a filing in 02-6” near the top of the page.
- Make sure to fill in the required fields.
Please take the time to do this. It is very important that they hear
from you. Please feel free to send this message to other folks.