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February 1, 2015

Posts in "Education"

January 8, 2015

Cell Phones in New York City Schools: Cottage Industry and Students

New York City’s mayor and schools chancellor recently announced a policy change that would lift a ban on students bringing cell phones to public schools, and The New York Times takes a closer look at the cottage industry that emerged to keep watch over students’ phones for a fee, and what the policy change means for those businesses.

Elizabeth A. Harris and Nate Schweber write in their story:

Students, as one might imagine, were thrilled, but for the small cottage industry of trucks that babysat for the banished phones, the announcement meant it would soon be time to pack up and drive away for good.

WYNC’s Yasmeen Khan’s piece mentions what some students think their schools should do: “While many students cheered the mayor’s announcement on Wednesday to lift the ban on cell phones in schools, there were plenty of others — or sometimes the same students — who questioned the wisdom of permitting access to the devices.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Leslie Brody and Sonja Sharp write: “New York City students welcomed Wednesday’s announcement of the demise of a long-standing ban on cellphones in schools—while admitting many had ignored the rules anyway.”

By Anne L. Kim Posted at 2:04 p.m.

December 12, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: E-Rate Funding Cap Increase, Internet Tax Moratorium and IP Nominees

Among the happenings this week: the Federal Communications Commission increased the funding cap on the E-Rate program, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on intellectual property nominees, and the spending package to fund the federal government includes provisions such as an extension of the Internet tax moratorium.

  • The House passed a spending package to fund the federal government that includes an extension of the Internet tax moratorium through Oct. 1, 2015. It also includes a provision that would block the National Telecommunications and Information Administration from relinquishing its responsibilities over Internet domain names and other domain functions. The NTIA wants to shift those duties to organizations with a stake in the Internet, but Republicans have opposed the change. The Senate’s now considering the package.
  • The Federal Communications Commission approved a measure that would raise by $1.5 billion the funding cap for the E-Rate program that helps schools and libraries pay for Internet access. And since the program’s supported by Universal Service Fund fees, consumers will see up to $1.90 in additional fees on their phone bills each year.
  • Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, who is expected to be the next chairman of the Judiciary Committee, made clear that the nominations of Michelle K. Lee to be director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Daniel H. Marti to be the White House’s intellectual property enforcement coordinator, wouldn’t advance in the 113th Congress, since there wasn’t enough time. But he also indicated that the nominations might be acted on early in the next Congress.
  • Technocrat had a Q&A with University of North Carolina law professor William P. Marshall about the Supreme Court case involving violent comments made on Facebook. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
  • The Telecommunications Industry Association organized a letter to FCC commissioners and House and Senate leaders opposing proposals to reclassify broadband as a common carrier as part of the FCC’s rewrite of net neutrality rules. Sixty companies signed on including IBM, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Cisco, and dLink.
  • BSA | The Software Alliance released a survey of roughly 1,500 business owners and decision makers in the U.S. and Europe on data analytics and among its U.S. findings: While 33 percent thought more than 10 percent of their company’s growth will be related to data analytics this year, 58 percent thought the same looking five years from now.

December 11, 2014

FCC Approves $1.5 Billion E-Rate Funding Cap Increase

The Federal Communications Commission approved a measure Thursday that will raise by $1.5 billion the funding cap for a program, known as E-Rate, that helps schools and libraries pay for Internet access. And since the program’s paid for through Universal  Service Fund fees consumers see on their telephone bills, that will translate to up to $1.90 in additional fees on your phone bill each year.

CQ Roll Call’s Carolyn Phenicie reports that commissioners approved the measure in a party line vote of 3-2.

The measure raises the program’s funding cap from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion.

Phenicie reports (subscription):

The order also makes a few other changes, including allowing schools and libraries to pay large upfront construction costs over multiple years, permitting program applicants to build high-speed broadband facilities themselves when doing so would be cost-effective and matching state support for “last-mile” broadband with up to 10 percent of construction costs.

As background, Phenicie writes that the “proposals come on the heels of changes made this summer to phase-out funding for outdated technology such as pagers and allow more funding to be put toward the physical connections needed to expand wireless connections.”

According to Phenicie, net neutrality protesters interrupted the meeting several times, including by a pair of protesters who ran behind the commissioners holding a banner that said “reclassify now,” referring to calls for the agency to reclassify broadband as a common carrier in rewriting net neutrality rules:

“This is what the presidents wants, this is what the people want. We deserve to have the net kept neutral,” they said. They also apologized for interrupting the meeting. Chairman Tom Wheeler addressed a group of students in the audience, “You’ve just seen the First Amendment at work. This is what this country is all about.”

December 8, 2014

The Week Ahead: Human Space Flight, the Sharing Economy and Surveillance

It could be the last week of the 113th Congress (maybe?) and with the December holidays fast approaching, it promises to be a packed with congressional hearings on intellectual property nominees, drones and human space flight and events on issues from surveillance to the sharing economy.


The Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus hosts a panel discussion on the sharing economy.

The Direct Marketing Association and Venable LLP hold an event titled the “The Dynamic State of Data: A Policy Briefing for the Data-Driven Marketing Community.”

The Personal Connected Health Alliance’s mHealth Summit on mobile and connected health continues into the week.


The Atlantic holds a panel event on science, technology, education and math careers.

National Consumers League holds a panel discussion on legislation on data security standards.


The American Enterprise Institute holds an event on surveillance, specifically on “legal intercept.”

The Brookings Institution holds an event on mobile technologies and developing economies.

BSA | The Software Alliance holds a panel discussion on data.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association and The American Antitrust Institute hold an event on patent assertion entities.

A House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee holds a hearing on NASA’s heavy rocket and and crew vehicle.

A House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee holds a hearing on drones.

The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee holds a cybersecurity hearing.

The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the nominations of Michelle K. Lee, to head the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and Daniel H. Marti, to be the White House’s intellectual property enforcement coordinator.


The Federal Communications Commission holds its December open meeting.


The Cato Institute holds a day-long surveillance conference.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies holds a panel discussion on the Internet of Things.

December 4, 2014

Rockefeller Gives Farewell Speech


Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., interviewed by the press before the Senate policy luncheons in the Capitol. ( Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., interviewed by the press before the Senate policy luncheons in the Capitol. ( Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

The retiring chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee gave his farewell speech Thursday on the Senate floor and he mentioned a few science and tech-related items including surveillance overhaul legislation and the federal program that discounts phone and Internet service for schools and libraries, known as E-Rate.

In case you missed it, some quotes on tech and science issues from Sen. Jay Rockefeller‘s, D-W.Va., farewell speech are below.

On surveillance overhaul legislation.

He described it as having “reforms necessary to uphold the mission of protecting our nation.”

He said:

Because the global threats we face increase daily as the world becomes more connected, we depend on the highly trained professionals at NSA to zero-in on those threats. There’s really only 22 of them that make sort of final decisions. They’re highly trained. They’ve taken the oath of office to protect our nation.

“Now, I don’t think that we have any excuse to outsource our intelligence works to telecommunications firms,” he said. He added that his work on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation panel showed him what telecommunications companies do “when they think they can get away with it. You know, everything from cramming to just all kinds of not very nice things.”

He said it was the government’s job to address the matter, and that it’s been conducted successfully.

“A lot of people say oh well what if. But the fact of the matter is nobody has ever been able to show me somebody whose privacy has been, you know, influenced or broken into by the NSA,” he said.

On E-Rate (he was among the authors of the program):

“We have worked to give children a fair shot through the E-Rate, a program which introduces even the most rural classrooms and smallest libraries to the world through the Internet.”

On the science and research law known as the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act:

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (who preceded John Thune on the Commerce Committee) Senator Alexander and I sought unanimous consent to get the bill passed because we thought we’d worked out the details pretty well, and do it prior to the recess, therefore we had to do it by unanimous consent. But there were five objections holding the bill still. Instead of retreating to party corners and pointing fingers we compromised right on that center aisle…. And we had ourselves a $44 billion bill over five years on which we agreed. We didn’t have to have a vote. Sen Hutchison, Senator Alexamder tenaciously worked to clear the holds. It was, Madam President, absolutely beautiful. It was just beautiful.”

Rockefeller was greeted with handshakes and hugs from fellow senators after his speech.

December 1, 2014

The Week Ahead: Cybercrime, Telecommunications Law and the Internet of Things

I hope you had your rest and relaxation over the Thanksgiving holiday because things are kicking into gear again, with events on cybercrime, telecommunications law and the Internet of Things.


The Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies holds an event on patent regulation and policy.

New America hosts talk with Shane Harris, author of “@War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex.”

New York University’s Information Law Institute and Microsoft’s Innovation & Policy center host an event titled “Building Privacy Into Data-Driven Education.”

The Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic  Public Policy Studies holds its U.S. Telecoms Symposium.

The Planetary Society holds an event on the future of solar system exploration.


The Bipartisan Policy Center holds an event on health information technology.

The Cato Institute hosts a talk with Terence Kealey, vice-chancellor emeritus at the University of Buckingham, on public funding of science and research.

The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee holds a hearing on the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act.

The Information Technology Industry Council and Intel host an event on technology, policy and emerging health crises.


Georgetown University Law Center and the Justice Department’s Criminal Division sponsor an event titled “Cybercrime 2020: The Future of Online Crime and Investigations.”

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation’s Center for Data Innovation holds an event on the Internet of Things.

Republic 3.0 hosts a panel discussion on progressives and a rewrite of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

November 17, 2014

Wheeler Proposes $1.5 Billion Cap Increase for E-Rate

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is proposing increasing the funding cap for the E-Rate program — the Universal Service Fund program that discounts Internet access for schools and libraries — by $1.5 billion.

Such an increase would mean individuals would pay additional costs on their phone bills. According to a fact sheet from Wheeler’s office, if the FCC reaches the maximum cap,  additional costs to individuals would amount to roughly “16 cents a month, about a half a penny per day or about $1.90 a year – less than a medium-sized soda at fast food restaurant or a cup of coffee.”

Full story

October 27, 2014

The Week Ahead: Yelp’s CEO, Cybersecurity & Identity Theft

Events on cybersecurity and identity theft are on tap this week and Yelp’s Jeremy Stoppelman stops by 1776.


The State Educational Technology Directors Association and the National Association of State Boards of Education host a day-long education technology event.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce holds a day-long cybersecurity forum.

The Progressive Policy Institute hosts an event on wireless policy.


The Identity Theft Resource Center hosts an event related to a survey they’re releasing on the impacts of identity theft on victims.


Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology hosts a day-long event on the Privacy Act and the 1974 amendments to the Freedom of Information Act.

1776 hosts a discussion with Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Yelp.

October 10, 2014

Dig Deeper on STEM Education, Tech Education Exec Says

In the context of competitiveness and immigration policy, STEM jobs and education are big issues. But what do we actually mean when we’re talking about STEM? Obviously, science, technology, engineering and math. But the approach to STEM education needs to be more targeted, argues Patrick Gusman.

Gusman is co-founder of Startup Middle School, a business-oriented tech education program, and executive director of the Equal Footing Foundation, which runs “Computer Clubhouses.”

At a panel discussion hosted by the Internet Innovation Alliance and Pew Research Center on Thursday, he said that instead of investing in STEM education because it’s a “great buzzword,” there needs to be an examination of what the currently relevant skills are and “re-tooling” school, after-school and community programs accordingly.

Technocrat caught up with him afterwards and he said that people see STEM as a “mythic” positive, and that they don’t understand it in detail.

“You can say a word but not really give it meaning,” he said, adding that politicians throw out the term. “But what’s behind it? What are you teaching as far as those skills?”

He posed these questions: Are students being taught to become bio-pharmacists or to be the next Mark Zuckerberg? Do they end up getting internships?  Do they take the Advanced Placement test for computer science?

The complexity is being missed by simply throwing out the term STEM, he said.

STEM education should be broken down beyond its umbrella of science, technology, engineering and math, to “dig down into the details” and try to connect such programs to industries that are prominent or that there’s a desire to grow in the local area, he said.

For more on why there’s so much talk about STEM – at least in New Hampshire – check out this New Hampshire Public Radio video:

October 8, 2014

Mid-Week Catchup: Twitter’s Lawsuit, Student Data Privacy & AT&T’s Data Breach

Need to catch up on what’s happened in tech policy news over the past day or so? A few highlights include Twitter’s lawsuit against the federal government, student data privacy and an AT&T data breach.

  • The Software & Information Industry Association and the Future of Privacy Forum released an education privacy pledge on student data, with Microsoft and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt among the companies that signed on.  A few stories point out that some big name companies did not sign on, like Apple, Google and Pearson.

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