Washington Watch: Edtech news roundup

The latest K-12 edtech news from the nation’s capital, including studying the impact of tech on students, bolstering E-rate support and increasing children’s online privacy.
By: | March 18, 2019
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A look at a few of the major K-12 edtech-related stories from Washington, D.C.

Research bill to study media and technology’s impact on kids

Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., recently introduced a bill that pledges to study the longitudinal effects of media and technology on children’s cognitive, physical and social-emotional development.

The Children and Media Research Advancement (CAMRA) Act authorizes the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research the effects of media and technology on infants, children and adolescents.

“Kids are using technology more than ever, and we know it’s having an impact on their social, emotional and cognitive development, but to what extent?” says James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media. “The CAMRA Act will provide much-needed funds for the independent research we have to be doing, so that as a society, we can make smart and informed choices about how kids are using technology.”

CAMRA-funded research will provide a better understanding of how technology is impacting the well-being of kids, while also generating the information that the tech industry, policymakers and advocates need to ensure that healthy products are being developed for kids and families, and harmful ones are made inaccessible, Steyer says.

Research funded by the legislation would investigate the impact of exposure to and use of media, such as mobile devices, computers, social media, applications, websites, television, motion pictures, artificial intelligence, video games, and virtual and augmented reality.

If passed, the bill would authorize $15 million for fiscal years 2020-2022, and $25 million for each of fiscal years 2023 and 2024.


Group proposes framework to improve E-rate’s Category 2 Support

Funds For Learning, an E-rate consulting firm, is urging the Federal Communications Commission’s E-rate staff to improve the Category 2 system by raising the budget cap and fixing the Form 470 drop-down menu.

Funds For Learning estimates that 29 percent of Category 2 applicants were denied because their funding requests exceeded the budget cap. The firm’s review also revealed that 8.5 percent of FY 2019 applicants incorrectly selected “Internet Only—No Transport” as their Category 1 service, which can lead to funding delays and denials.

Most sites failing to receive Category 2 support in previous funding years were small schools with an enrollment of 99 or fewer students, or single-site applicants, the company found.

Funds For Learning urges the FCC to raise the budget cap to take into consideration the fixed costs associated with many IT projects and to instruct the E‐rate administrator not to issue any funding denials where applicants attempted to comply in good faith with the Form 470 posting requirements.

Funds For Learning proposes FY 2020 as the start for the framework, which the firm refers to as “0-1-2-3.”

 

New edtech privacy bill seeks to protect teens’ location and personal data

In an age where virtually every action online is tracked, Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., recently introduced legislation to stem companies’ access to minors by prohibiting online entities from collecting the personal information and whereabouts of teenagers.
The legislation updates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to ban internet companies from collecting personal and location information from anyone under 13 without parental consent, and from anyone 13 to 15 years old without permission.

The Markey-Hawley bill also creates an “Eraser Button” so parents and kids can delete personal information, and a “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Minors” that further limits the collection of personal information.

Moreover, the legislation establishes a youth privacy and marketing division at the Federal Trade Commission, which will be tasked with addressing the privacy of minors and related marketing.


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