Leadership Symposium Early Bird Deadline Approaching | Join K-12 leaders nationwide for three days of empowering strategies, networking, and inspiration! Discounted pricing ends March 1. Register today.
Privacy & Security

A Better Grip on Online Access and Safety

By Andrew Trotter — October 03, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A bill passed by Congress on Sept. 30 is likely to boost understanding of two crucial aspects of the vast online world that occupies a growing part of our lives: broadband access and child safety.

Of most immediate concern for schools is the bill’s second section, authorizing a nationwide program to educate citizens about threats to children’s safety online and strategies to promote their safe use of the Internet.

The bill, numbered S. 1492, which President Bush is expected to sign, directs the Federal Trade Commission to start an advisory group that will evaluate the status of industry efforts to promote online safety, such as education and control technologies and age-appropriate labeling. The group will also take stock of Internet providers’ success in reporting apparent child pornography and crime, and of the development of technology to help parents shield children from inappropriate material online.

Schools that receive federal E-rate funding will also be required to educate minors about appropriate online behavior, including participation in social networking Web sites and in chat rooms. Another required topic is “cyber bullying awareness and response.”

The National PTA and the Consortium for School Networking are among the education groups that lobbied for this section and have hailed its passage. Incidentally the authors of the section were Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).

Broadband Access

The first part of the bill would shed new light on the nation’s progress toward providing its citizens with affordable access to broadband, or high-speed Internet. (Dial-up service is basically irrelevant to the video and interactive features that are now shaping the Web.)

But broadband access is still in short supply in many rural areas, or the doors are closed to people of limited means. (For a take on what broadband means to schools, check out a recent article on this subject by my co-blogger, Katie Ash.)

The bill requires the federal government to collect more, more regular, and better data on broadband services—and to encourage the states to do the same, in partnership with public and private groups and businesses.

The Federal Communications Commission must also assess the geographical areas that are not served by any broadband provider, and to compare broadband access in similar communities in the United States and at least 25 other countries.

School districts may get a chance to participate with other local groups and businesses on a regional or county “local technology planning team,” which the law would fund in each state under a matching grant program.

The teams would set strategy on how to help spread affordable broadband; on boosting technological literacy, increased computer ownership, and broadband use; and on spurring grassroots efforts to promote activities such as investment in related technologies.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Privacy & Security A Massive Data Leak Exposed School Lockdown Plans. What Districts Need to Know
More than 4 million records held by school safety software company Raptor Technologies were left inadvertently exposed online.
5 min read
Concept image of security breach, system hacked alert with red broken padlock icon showing vulnerable access.
Nicolas Herrbach/iStock/Getty
Privacy & Security As Cyberattacks Mount, Lawmakers Double Their Efforts to Protect Schools
But the legislative push is not matched by funds to build better cyber defenses.
2 min read
Conceptual illustration of computer with a pixelated lock on screen.
Nanzeeba Ibnat/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Privacy & Security 3 Superintendents Share Cybersecurity Best Practices
Cyberattacks cause major disruptions to learning, but school districts are still struggling to put in place effective protections.
3 min read
Image of a red glowing caution sign over a dark field of data.
Privacy & Security Saturn Is a New App for High Schoolers. Here’s Why It Has Educators Concerned
Saturn is billed as a time-management app, but experts see potential privacy concerns in allowing it broad access to students' schedules.
6 min read
Image of a clock, calendar, and a pencil.