DOPA update

This via Will Richardson

Seems that Vermont Senator Pat Leahy has agreed to slow DOPA down so to speak and that the bill is now going to the Senate Commerce Committee. Here is a list of members of that group that you might want to contact.

Why is this in the Commerce Committee? I know it relates to the FCC, but it seems that it is affecting education significantly!

Two Dumptrucks
I'm starting to feel like there are two dumptrucks headed in opposite directions down a one way street. One is right and the other is wrong, but unless one turns around both will suffer.

I have a feeling with the momentum for this bill, even though DOPA is wrong, we're going to have to put efforts into getting amendments in that make more sense.

  • We need local databases and filtering! The bill allows for unblocking when the classroom is supervised. If it is too difficult to unblock, teachers will forget it. (No FCC centralized behemoth!)
  • How about educators getting behind a massive, nonprofit, profanity blocking, teacher moderated site for social networking on educational issues? It sounds a lot like although I think that blocking out the world is a mistake for such a database. I wonder if Oracle could be convinced to have an open version of think. However, if because Oracle is a commercial enterprise, I have to wonder if anything they do won't be blocked!
  • I also think 180 days is a ridiculously short length of time to sort through perhaps billions of websites!
  • No education funding for programs to teach internet safety.
  • Educators need to be involved in the FCC board that is reviewing sites.

Other glaring ommissions are there, but I covered them in my DOPA analysis.

I have to wonder if this isn't the wrong way to make teachers do the right thing.

A big ole' truck is a comin' — do we turn or do we play chicken?

(For the good of the kids, I think it is going to have to be the former.)

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Tom Hoffman August 1, 2006 - 8:06 pm

I absolutely do not think that this is the time to offer up concesssions. The Republican House passes all kinds of crazy stuff in an election year, in part because they don’t have to worry about it actually being passed by the Senate. This is purely election grandstanding, and while every Representative has to play along, only 1/3rd of the Senate does, so 2/3rds of the Senate have little incentive to pick this up at all.

Vicki A. Davis August 1, 2006 - 11:57 pm

Tom –

From my days in DC, if there is such a landslide in the house that only 15 went against it, I am afraid that the handwriting is on the capitol dome and we’re heading towards DOPA whether we want it or not.

If we’re going to be forced into it, we should at least be part of what we’re forced into. Otherwise we end up with something terribly awful instead of something a little bit palatable.

Bottom line, if we’re going to stop DOPA, there had better be a viable alternative. The outcry is too loud from parents and doing nothing will ensure DOPA’s passage in its present form.

I hope you’re right, Tom.

Robert August 2, 2006 - 1:48 pm

I think DOPA is in the Commerce Committee because that committee tends to deal a lot with technology issues. And there is a pretty significant commercial side to DOPA too — it insulates web services like MySpace from a huge part of its market base, and that will really affect thye bottom line of those web sites. I wonder if getting in touch with the operators of some of the web services affected by DOPA might not be a bad move for educators at this point.

John August 3, 2006 - 4:05 am

How about instead of trying to come up with increasingly-complex and confusing legislation, we just ditch E-rate funding altogether? Let’s let each state come up with its own version, if the people want it!

JohnJ August 3, 2006 - 1:48 pm

I would think that if you want educational issues to be decided at the state level, you would be for DOPA, because that’s essentially what it does. When you cut federal funding of something then you allow the state to take over. DOPA does not force anyone to do anything. That’s the best kind of legislation there is! DOPA just says that the federal government is not going to give people money who provide kids with access to designated social networking sites. I don’t want the federal government to pay people to provide kids with access to certain social networking sites, therefore I am for DOPA. DOPA will not cost money, as it involves cutting spending. DOPA will not prevent education of children; that’s just silly, as you and I agree that education should be funded at the state, not federal, level.

Vicki A. Davis August 3, 2006 - 11:22 am

I don’t know about e-rate, I don’t get it. As for the latter, I believe that educational issues belong at the state level.

The bottom line is that DOPA doesn’t make a lot of sense, it will cost money, it will prevent education of children in an online world, and ultimately will cause more victims.

I believe parents want things done and that just as we cover the front of inappropriate magazines that we should filter when a child goes in a nd types “sex” in a search engine. It is just the right thing to do to shield children from things they are not ready for.

As for now, we’re doing it the wrong way with DOPA, you and I agree on that!

Vicki A. Davis August 3, 2006 - 2:37 pm

JohnJ – Have you read the bill?

You say
“I would think that if you want educational issues to be decided at the state level, you would be for DOPA, because that’s essentially what it does.”

No, DOPA mandates the specifications for a set of social networking sites that would carte blanche be blocked from public schools and libraries. Have you seen the list that this includes? If they don’t follow this list, they don’t receive federal funding. Do you know how difficult this is going to be to monitor, audit, and convey. The reason I said that there will have to be a database is because that is the only way to do this. When I say there will have to be more funding for the FCC because it is not like you can sit down and go through all the websites one time and determine whether they should be blocked or not. People will file for approval and there will be an appeal process. It will take a lot of time and resources.

I don’t see anything at the state and see a lot at the FCC. (Federal level)

You say:
“DOPA does not force anyone to do anything. That’s the best kind of legislation there is! DOPA just says that the federal government is not going to give people money who provide kids with access to designated social networking sites.”

DOPA is legislation and yes, it does force people to do things. It forces them to comply with a list of websites that cannot be accessed from their schools or lose federal funding.

This legislation spells big government. I thought you were against that.

Designated social networking sites include many educational websites that are meaningful and important to students. Students communicate online and should be educated using online tools. Again, I am not under restrictions of public schools and am experiencing exciting results using new INternet resources like blogs and wikis to reinforce cooperative learning strategies. These strategies are known to educators, but as a non educator, you may not think they are important!

With 20% of kids not graduating from high school it is vital that our public schools become more engaging and effective. Holding a big stick and putting them in solitary desks in neat little rows doesn’t work with these kids. Be idealistic all you want, but I am passionate about being a great teacher.

You say,

“DOPA will not cost money, as it involves cutting spending.”

What? Implementation has a cost. It doesn’t include money for it but you wait the FCC will be at their doorstep asking for millions before the year is out.

That is like saying “We’re going to increase sales 200%” but not budgeting for any changes.

“DOPA will not prevent education of children; that’s just silly, as you and I agree that education should be funded at the state, not federal, level.”

No, it will not prevent the education of children. It will prevent access to valuable access to the tools that teachers need to add to their “tool chest” of resources to teach with. It will, however, prevent the education of children in real world Internet cooperation UNLESS some significant money is spent at the local level. Again, more money. More spending.


You’re looking at this too high level. I live and breathe the real world of education and also have a background in implementing technology and I see dollar signs all over this bill.

I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. The bill will probably pass and time will serve as the ultimate litmus test of both of our sentiments.

I rarely get involved in politics such as this, but I feel strongly we are making a huge mistake with DOPA.

Again, my private school classroom will continue to innovate and cooperate using FREE tools. We educate our students for $4000 a student with our kids in the 90th percentile on everything.

Adding legislation on top of legislation with Federal Funding of schools continues to cause the conundrum of paperwork that is choking the very life out of public schools. DOPA just adds to the paperwork paralysis.

OK, I’ve got a computer lab to install, back to work!

Anonymous August 6, 2006 - 6:57 pm

Vicki – i study what teens do online and i’d like to talk with you. Can you contact me by email? My address is danah [*at*] danah [*.*] org.

Thank you! danah

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