E-Rate Schools Now Require Education

The House and Senate have passed S. 1492, which has 2 titles:

  • Title I – Broadband Data Improvement Act
  • Title II – Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act

When I first heard about this bill, I only knew about the first part, which deals with determining broadband speeds across the nation and promoting affordable broadband for everyone.  Until the post from LIS News, I didn’t know there was another part of it — especially one that dealt with E-Rate.  It seems the second title was originally a standalone bill, but was attached to this one during the legislative process.

This title:

  • Requires the Federal Trade Commission to “carry out a nationwide program to increase public awareness and provide education regarding strategies to promote the safe use of the Internet by children.”
  • Convenes an Online Safety and Technology Working Group.  It is up to this group to determine:
    • how we’re promoting online safety through education, parental control technologies, blocking/filtering software, and content labeling.
    • how well ISPs and other communications services are reporting child pornography and if there are any reporting obstacles.
    • how ISPs and other communications services deal with record retention in connection with crimes against children.
    • technologies available that can help parents deal with their children and inappropriate material on the Internet.
  • Requires a third certification for those schools that receive E-Rate money:
    (iii) as part of its Internet safety policy is educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response.

My guess is that most schools, and particularly school librarians, are already educating students on these issues, but it’s good to know that, at least for E-Rate schools, it’ll now be required.  (OK — it’ll be required when President Bush signs it –which should be soon!)

I hope we can get a librarian on the Working Group.  It has to be created within 90 days of the President’s signing, so I guess we’ll know pretty soon.

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