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The Internet For All Now is the Current State and National Priority

April 5, 2016

Legislative Update for CUE Members - April 2016 | more leg updates

Prepared by John Cradler, CUE Legislative Policy Consultant


CUE 2016 Advocacy FoIMG_3418.jpgcus: A major CUE 2016 National Conference focus was on various initiatives and legislation related to connecting all schools and homes to the high-speed Internet. This was evidenced by: a presentation by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, on home access to the Internet; State Superintendent Tom Torlakson’s opening speech referencing leaving no child off-line; the Legislative Advocacy Award given to Sunne McPeak for establishing the Internet for All Now initiative; a CTO Forum to inform Superintendent Torlakson on school district connectivity needs; and the focus of the Legislative Advocacy Session on Internet access related legislation. Even Closing Keynote Pearl Arredondo’s message included a plea for improved home access! The following summarizes the current Federal and State initiatives relating to the emphasis on Internet For All Now


FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel: In an address to the CUE 2016 National Conference attendees, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel focused on bridging the Homework Gap. She stated that, “Today, roughly seven in ten teachers assign homework that requires access to broadband. But FCC data suggest that as many as one in three households do not subscribe to broadband services at any speed—due to lack of affordability and lack of interest.” A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that more than half of teachers in low-income communities said that their students’ lack of access to online resources at home presented a major challenge to integrating technology into their teaching.


The Commissioner emphasized that the FCC-supported E-rate and Lifeline updates will help close the homework gap by promoting appropriate Lifeline-supported mobile devices with Wi-Fi functionality. She also discussed the new E-Rate 2.0, which supports more Wi-Fi connections in our libraries. She urged the FCC to go further by freeing up more of our airwaves for unlicensed spectrum use making additional Wi-Fi connectivity possible in more places which would help bring more broadband to low-income households with school-aged children. For more details and the full text of Commissioner Rosenworcel’s statements go to http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2016/db0321/DOC-338474A1.pdf  On March 31, the FCC voted 3-to-2 to expand the Lifeline program, which currently subsidizes telephone access for low-income Americans. Commissioner Rosenworcel was one of three of the five FCC Commissioners to vote “yes” on the expansion.

California EmergiIMG_8716.jpgng Technology Fund (CETF): At CUE 2016 National Conference, the Legislative Advocacy Award went to Sunne McPeak, President and CEO of CETF for her long-term and intensive efforts to help enable access to the high-speed Internet by all persons in all locations and by linking schools to homes. CUE is expanding its alliance with CETF to include collaboration on State and National policy and legislation Internet access to schools and homes. CETF is a non-profit corporation established pursuant to requirements from the California Public Utilities Commission for the purpose of providing leadership statewide to close the "Digital Divide" by accelerating the deployment and adoption of broadband to unserved and underserved communities and population and to advocate for Federal and State policies related to affordable Internet access. 


CETF is creator of the Internet for All Now campaign, and supports policy decisions and cross-sector collaborations that promote affordable broadband and digital literacy for low-income Americans.  CETF has filed comments at the FCC to extend the federal Lifeline Program to include broadband. CUE has joined CETF by signing on to the CETF statement to the FCC providing the reasons they should support Internet for All and Net Neutrality initiatives. For details about CETF go to http://www.cetfund.org.


State and Federal Internet-related Initiatives


1. Net Neutrality: On November 10, 2014, President Obama called on the FCC to take up the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality–the principle that says Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all Internet traffic equally. On February 26, 2015, The FCC voted in favor of a strong net neutrality rule to keep the Internet open and free. CETF initiated a campaign joined by CUE and many others urging the FCC to support Net Neutrality. For details and information about support from President Obama on this initiative go to https://www.whitehouse.gov/net-neutrality.





2. Lifeline and Linkup Reform and Modernization: On January 31, 2012 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved Lifeline Internet, a major expansion of the popular government’s free cell phone program. On March 31, 2016 the FCC approved expansion of Lifeline to include, 1) Establishment of an affordable high-speed Internet service plan for all low-income households offered by and through all broadband providers in the $10/month range, 2) Capitalization of an independent fund to support community-based organizations, schools and libraries to assist in enrolling eligible low-income households and participate in true public-private partnerships, and 3) Appointment of an oversight advisory body to ensure transparency and accountability with a broad base of stakeholders and community leaders knowledgeable about broadband adoption. A major provision of the updated Lifeline plan sets up a new entity, called the National Eligibility Verifier, to act as a neutral party to determine electronically which households are eligible for Lifeline. CUE has joined CETF to sign the letter of support for Lifeline sent to the FCC. For more details and updates go to: https://www.fcc.gov  and  http://www.cetfund.org/node/8789 .  


3. The Internet For All Now Act  (AB1758): by Assemblymember Mark Stone, introduced in February 2016, sets a goal of 90% of all households online by 2023 and authorizes funding to assist low-income households get online so that our most disadvantaged residents can be included in the Digital Economy. This bill is now referred to as the Internet For All Act of 2016. The CUE Advocacy Committee is watching this bill as it progresses.



4. Parent Bonilla.jpegEngagement Legislation: (AB 2680) related to parent student learning and engagement was just introduced by Assemblymember Susan Bonilla. This bill would fund locally developed plans submitted by school districts and county offices of education that offer potentially effective strategies for training parents and families of children birth to age 18 to become actively engaged in the education of their children. The CUE Legislative Advocate is working with CETF and Assemblymember Bonilla to add amendments to this bill related to the use of the Internet to connect homes of underserved students to the high-speed Internet.



Related CUE Advocacy Activities:


CTO Forum: At CUE 2016 National Conference, the California Educational Technology Professionals Association (CETPA), the California Department of Education (CDE), and CUE co-sponsored a Forum facilitated by State Superintendent Tom Torlakson and his staff to obtain input regarding local and regional district need related to Data Privacy, Equity of Access, and Infrastructure Investment and to continue building stronger relationships and learn how CDE can better support districts in deploying technology that supports learning and improved student outcomes. The major objective of the Forum was for the CDE to learn from district leaders about challenge, concerns, opportunities, and specific actions CDE can take to support their work and advancing the deployment of technology. For more details on the results and recommendations from the CTO Forum connect to CETPA at: cetpa.net


Action on the California Educational Technology Blueprint:  In 2014, Superintendent Torlakson established a Task Force of educators (most of which were CUE members) to develop a California Educational Technology Blueprint with specific recommendations to be referred to by both the CDE and the State Legislature as possible actions to take. Time has passed since the Blueprint was prepared so a process was established for educators to update and prioritize the 19 recommendations. Participants in both the CTO Forum and the Legislative Advocacy presentation at CUE 2016 National Conference were asked to rank each of the items on a 5-point scale from Very Important to Can Wait for Now. As a CUE member reading this update, you can also rank the Blueprint items by going to https://goo.gl/Vyxc9A and entering your level of importance rankings. You can also estimate how soon each item should be implemented, from 6-months to 2-years, by going to https://goo.gl/QvhJkC.


Collaboration with ISTE Advocacy Efforts: ISTE Chief External Relations Officer, Craig Thibaudeau, traveled from the Washington DC ISTE Office to Palm Springs to participate in the CUE 2016 National Conference. Craig facilitated FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel  speaking at CUE 2016 National Conference. The CUE Legislative Consultant and Craig established some strategies for ISTE to support California efforts to help enable the new Federal ESSA funding to support the use of technology in education. Also, CUE signed the letter prepared by ISTE to urge Congress and the US Department of Education to include technology as one of the resources to be included in the emerging guidelines to states related to planning and allocating ESSA funds. For more information about the ISTE Advocacy information and program go to: www.iste.org/advocacy/take-action.


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Updating the CUE Legislative Advocacy Platform: The CUE Legislative Advocacy Committee has re-formatted the Legislative Advocacy Platform with icons to designate five major categories addressed in the Platform. We will be updating the Platform as new priorities emerge and others are determined by the Advocacy Committee to no longer be relevant. The Platform and much more about CUE Advocacy can be found at: www.cue.org/advocacy.


Continued updating on emerging legislation: The quarterly CUE publication, OnCUE, provides more details on specific bills and initiatives such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Local Control Funding Formula (LCAP) and others. All issues of OnCUE are archived and accessible at www.cue.org/oncue/archive. Also, at each CUE conference, there is a session providing updates on legislation as well as an opportunity for you to interact with the Advocacy co-chairs and CUE Legislative Consultant. As new legislation and initiatives relevant to priorities stated in the CUE Platform emerge, CUE will review, monitor, take positions, and suggest amendments as needed.

We will provide updates on these bills and initiatives as they are amended or passed as well as suggestions on how to support specific items. If you have questions about specific legislation and policy related to Educational Technology contact the CUE Legislative Policy Consultant at: cradler@earthlink.net