EdTech Community Educates Congress on 2022 Policy Priorities

EdTech Community Educates Congress on 2022 Policy Priorities

Annual Advocacy Summit to Highlight Educators’ Stories and Outline Policies Needed to Improve Educational Outcomes, Expand Equity and Protect Student Data

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Washington, D.C. (May 16, 2022) – Last week, over 51 education technology leaders from 21 different states met with policymakers in-person for the first time since 2019. With stories of their experiences in hand, these edtech experts connected with key elected officials and their staffs to discuss actionable policies that will provide much-needed support for equitable and secure student success. As Congress considers legislation to lead America out of this pandemic and into a sustainable and thriving future, it has never been more important for the edtech community’s voice to be heard.

Participants in the 2022 EdTech Advocacy Day raised critical issues with policymakers last week after holding the first part of the conversation virtually in March. On Thursday, May 12, participants heard from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner Nathan Simington and Commissioner Geoffrey Starks and met with officials from the U.S. Department of Education. Participants then headed to the Hill to meet with their Senators and Representatives about supporting policies to ensure a safe transition to a post-pandemic world, connect all students and close the “Homework Gap,” fund edtech and related professional learning opportunities, and protect student data privacy.

“It was so rewarding to return to face-to-face discussions with our colleagues in both the edtech community, the Hill and government agencies last week. To have more than 70 Hill visits scheduled showed the interest from all parties about better understanding how to serve K-12 learners. Hearing directly from the FCC about their commitment and vision to support our school systems/learners provided an excellent jumping off point for legislator meetings,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN.

“The pandemic has made it clearer than ever that technology tools are essential, but not enough. We need to help educators learn to apply powerful digital pedagogy, and that requires a strong vision and targeted investments on every level, including the federal level. This was a chance for those educators most impacted by federal policy decisions to make their voices heard before those who were elected to represent them at the highest levels in our country,” said Joseph South, Chief Learning Officer of ISTE.

“While the last two years have shined a spotlight on the broadband equity access issues that existed prior to the pandemic, we cannot waste the substantial investments that have accelerated the shift to digital learning environments,” said Julia Fallon, Executive Director of SETDA. “These advocacy events help us keep federal policymakers informed and provide an opportunity to encourage them to continue to support the initiatives that connect students to their classrooms and teachers from any location – at school, at home and in their communities.”

“We are incredibly proud of the partnerships our edtech members form to help America’s students. Working side by side with educators, school administrators and others last week as a unified voice in DC serves as a reminder to policymakers that digital equity, connectivity and privacy are so very important,” said SIIA President Jeff Joseph. “We will continue to work to amplify the voices of those championing these issues nationwide.”

This year’s annual summit, which is led by CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking), ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education), SETDA (State Educational Technology Directors Association) and SIIA (Software & Information Industry Association), was held virtually in March and in-person for the first time since 2019 on Thursday, May 12.

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About CoSN 

CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. CoSN provides thought leadership resources, community best practices and advocacy tools to help leaders succeed in the digital transformation. CoSN represents over 13 million students in school districts nationwide and continues to grow as a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education. cosn.org

About ISTE

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a nonprofit organization that works with the global education community to accelerate the use of technology to solve tough problems and inspire innovation. Our worldwide network believes in the potential technology holds to transform teaching and learning. ISTE sets a bold vision for education transformation through the ISTE Standards, a framework for students, educators, administrators, coaches and computer science educators to rethink education and create innovative learning environments. ISTE hosts the annual ISTE Conference & Expo, one of the world’s most influential edtech events. The organization’s professional learning offerings include online courses, professional networks, year-round academies, peer-reviewed journals and other publications. ISTE is also the leading publisher of books focused on technology in education. For more information or to become an ISTE member, visit iste.org. Subscribe to ISTE’s YouTube channel and connect with ISTE on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. www.iste.org

About SETDA

Founded in 2001, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is the principal association representing U.S. state and territorial educational technology and digital learning leaders. Through a broad array of programs and advocacy, SETDA builds member capacity and engages partners to empower the education community in leveraging technology for learning, teaching, and school operations. www.setda.org

About SIIA

SIIA is the only professional organization connecting more than 700 data, financial information, education technology, specialized content and publishing, and health technology companies. Our ed tech membership develops and delivers software applications, digital instructional content, online and distance learning services, online assessment, and related technologies for millions of learners around the world. For more information, visit www.siia.net.

Supports DEI

SIIA Dedicated to Advancing Digital Equity

Advancing digital equity is a core focus for SIIA. For too long, underlying inequalities, racial biases, and discrimination have plagued the United States and communities around the world, denying too many the opportunity to contribute to and reap the benefits of the innovation economy.  Roughly one-third of unemployed Americans lack the foundational digital skills required for the estimated 75% of U.S. jobs which require such skills, according to one study. A 2021 report issued by the Federal Communications Commission approximates 42 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet. Other studies contend the FCC report undercounts those without access.

In some cases, innovation carries the biases – conscious and unconscious – of its creators and society at large. This digital discrimination ranges from preventing equal access to the technology itself to using tech in the online space to discriminate in the offline world.

SIIA, our members and the business community at large view digital equity as a critical objective that requires funding, resources as well as upskilling and training opportunities for underrepresented communities, where broadband access and related supports are lacking and yet so critical. Removing the barriers to elevate opportunities for all individuals will lead to the creation of new businesses, foster economic growth and expand access to technology itself as well as the educational, employment and social engagement opportunities technological innovation can foster. Digital equity will ensure civic and cultural participation, employment, learning, and access to essential services, which are integral to a more connected and prepared community in order to ensure lifelong success.

SIIA is working across our policy portfolio to advocate for digital equity. These efforts include but are not limited to:

  • Advancing access to broadband, with a focus on underrepresented communities. Broadband equity is achieved when all people and communities are able to access and use affordable, high-speed, reliable internet at speeds, quality and capacity necessary to accomplish common tasks and meet long-term needs. This means addressing broadband gaps across rural and urban communities where more emphasis is critical.
  • Advocating for broad access to internet-enabled devices and applications. These devices must meet the needs of the user and provide access to applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration. 
  • Supporting digital literacy and skills training. Digital literacy is the ability to identify and use technology confidently, creatively and critically to meet the demands and challenges of life, learning and work in a digital society. This includes the ability to use technology; find, use and critically evaluate information; curate data and media sources; communicate, collaborate and participate in online environments; manage your online identity as well as your personal security and privacy; and create online content, not just consume it.
  • Supporting technologies that advance DEI. As President Biden told the United Nations in 2021, we must, together, “Ensure a future where technologies are a vital tool to solving human challenges and empowering human potential, not a source of greater strife and repression.” Tech companies hold the keys to success in producing equitable technologies, if they channel their energy positively and productively and bake DEI efforts early into product design.
  • Encouraging algorithmic fairness. While the growing use of Artifical Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) systems carries enormous potential for society, there are well documented concerns that these systems can embed bias and discrimination. This can happen because of incomplete, unbalanced or poorly collected data, algorithms that reflect unconscious biases, and other reasons. Without balanced and representational data as an input, an AI or ML system can have different accuracy rates for different demographic groups. Similarly, an algorithm can make decisions that are systematically unfair to certain groups of people. Trustworthy and responsible AI practices are essential to ensure that data sets are truly representative of the populations the application seeks to serve and open to validation to analyze the data for fairness. In addition, algorithms must meet best practices before they are put to use. New technologies such as “synthetic data” – created to help fill gaps in data sets – also can help reduce bias.
  • Fighting for a comprehensive, balanced federal privacy law. Personal information such as a person’s race, religion, national origin, or gender identity can be used by bad actors online to determine eligibility for vital services like health care or insurance. In some cases, bad actors charge different prices to different groups for the same goods and services or exclude them from access altogether. A comprehensive, balanced federal privacy law can prevent bad actors from engaging in data practices that are harmful or abusive to consumers, while still ensuring that all Americans can benefit from new and innovative technologies.

More must be done. Increasing STEM and apprenticeship programs for people of color and other historically disenfranchised communities. Investing in the current workforce to provide advancement opportunities. Addressing pay equity in the tech sector. Developing incentives to encourage investment in worthy minority-owned startups. The challenge looms large but the opportunities and benefits stand taller. The nation and the industry that has led the development of innovative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges can, and must, lend that same spirit to increasing equity in the tech sector.

 

World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day 2022

The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) joins all those who today recognize World Press Freedom Day. As creators, interpreters and distributors of high quality information, our more than 450 members are united in the belief that a free and safe press is essential to support the unrestrained flow of ideas by word and image. A free and safe press empowers individual freedom, drives economic growth, combats authoritarianism online and off, gives voice to the voiceless and otherwise brings to our attention the critical stories, data and information that inform our world view and support social, economic and political progress.

Just last week, SIIA celebrated the outstanding work of B2B journalists and publishers at our 68th annual Neal Awards ceremony. We recognized stories ranging from in-depth coverage of cutting-edge innovations to the ever-unfolding effects of the pandemic across industries, to the broad impact of the global supply chain crisis, to critical examinations on racism and inequity and beyond. These honorees represent the critical importance of a free press particularly as we work to navigate this period of rising illiberalism and historic global challenges.

The threat to press freedom is real. Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a media watchdog group, finds a global decline in press freedom based on 87 questions focused on laws, self-censorship, media pluralism, independence and transparency, along with an assessment of attacks and arrests.

This year’s Press Freedom Day theme “Journalism Under Digital Siege” calls attention to the myriad ways in which surveillance and digitally mediated attacks endanger journalists and journalism. RSF reports 24 journalists have been killed this year to date and 461 are currently in prison. (Journalists are listed only if RSF has established that their death or imprisonment was linked to their journalistic activity.) Our great nation is not immune. Press Freedom Tracker for the United States shows that gag orders, prosecutions of journalists, and physical attacks and equipment damage are all on the rise, and access for journalism to courthouses and statehouses remains a challenge. The Digital Siege theme also references the critical need to strike a balance among legitimate security concerns, privacy and the need for law enforcement to have access to specific information, issues in which SIIA is intimately engaged.

Freedom is a continuum and is never guaranteed. SIIA will continue to stand up for policies that support press freedom and safety. And we will continue to celebrate the brilliant, quality journalism and publishing coming out of associations and industry that seeks to better our world.

 

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Declaration for the Future of Internet Statement

The following statement from Paul Lekas, Senior Vice President, Global Public Policy, Software & Information Industry Association.

The Declaration for the Future of the Internet (DFI), signed today by the United States and 60 partners worldwide, presents a vision for a global Internet and a democratic approach to technology. SIIA fully supports the commitments of signatories to advance “a future for the Internet that is open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure.” We support the DFI’s call to promote an Internet that protects human rights and fundamental freedoms; promotes global connectivity; promotes inclusivity and affordability; fosters trust in the Internet environment; and advances multi-stakeholder internet governance. The Internet, and the broader online environment, must be a means for equitable economic prosperity, innovation, and communication, with safeguards for individual privacy and a backbone that ensures safety, security, reliability, and resilience.

We call upon the U.S. government and DFI partner states to take action to realize the DFI principles. Today, the proliferation of data localization regulations and the globalization of authoritarian technology policy threatens individual privacy and liberty, cross-border communication, the freedom of information, economic opportunity, and innovation. The DFI is not self-reinforcing. DFI partners must take concrete steps to realize the DFI vision through domestic laws and regulations, multi-stakeholder agreements, and engagement with civil society and the business community.

The United States must do its part to turn the DFI principles into concrete actions that can shape the global Internet environment. This starts with passing a federal privacy bill that provides critical protections for individuals and predictability for U.S. business. The U.S. government should also advance concrete measures to address the threats of “digital authoritarianism” by increasing its efforts to promote technological standards that comport with democratic values, advance multilateral and multi-stakeholder initiatives to combat disinformation, support a free and open digital ecosystem globally, and pursue measures around accessibility. 

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SIIA Announces the Neal Award Winners!

SIIA Neal Awards honors journalistic excellence in 26 categories in the B2B information industry

Grand Neal and Leadership Winners Announced at 68th Annual
Jesse H. Neal Awards

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Amanda McMaster, VP Awards and Recognition Programs

New York, NY (April 26, 2022)  The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) announces winners for the 68th Jesse H. Neal Awards – one of the longest running premier awards programs honoring business-to-business (B2B) journalism. 

The Jesse H. Neal Awards are the most prestigious editorial honors in the field of business-to-business journalism. Sixty-one awards were presented across 26 categories, culminating in the Grand Neal Award, honoring the most outstanding entry celebrating journalistic excellence across all categories.  The in-person Neal Awards Ceremony took place at the New York City Marriott Marquis.

This year’s Grand Neal Award was awarded to MLR Media’s Family Business Magazine for “Reckoning: Family Businesses Confront Race, Racism and Inclusion,” a best subject-related package accredited to: Barbara Spector, Richie Madden, David Shaw, Monica McLaughlin and Amy Cosper.

“Today, we were thrilled to celebrate in person the prestigious 68th annual Neal Awards recognizing the best in B2B journalism,” said SIIA President Jeff Joseph. “Congratulations to this year’s winners who covered dozens of industries impacting millions of jobs breaking news with global implications – from the supply chain crisis to the microchip shortage and more. Their work kept us informed and connected.”

“This year’s winners continue to lead the industry and produce outstanding, critically important content during a period of unprecedented challenges. Congratulations to all! We also extend our sincere appreciation to today’s judges and sponsors who made this great event possible.” 

Editorial and Business Leaders at Crain Communications, Putman Media, Lexipol and Endeavor Business Media Inc. received Leadership Awards

SIIA also honored the very best of specialized journalism through a series of leadership awards recognizing mentorship, vision, commitment and editorial ethics and courage:

  • Cassandra West, assistant managing editor of news features for Crain’s Chicago Business at Crain Communications was selected as the 2021-22 McAllister Editorial Fellow. The Fellowship promotes the study of business media by placing fellows as teachers and advisors at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
  • Putman Media’s Erin Hallstrom, the director of digital content strategy for Food Processing, was selected as the winner of the Marianne Dekker Mattera Mentor Award. This award honors leaders who excel in mentoring and is presented in memory of Dekker, the long-time Editor in Chief of RNMagazine and Medical Economics to reflect her legacy of mentorship.
  • Nancy Perry, editor-in-chief of Lexipol’s Police1, received the 54th Annual G.D. Crain Jr. Award, which is given annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the development of editorial excellence in business media over the course of a career.
  • Robert Brelsford, Oil & Gas Journal’s downstream editor at Endeavor Business Media, received the Timothy White Award, which honors the longtime editor of Billboard Magazine and is given to an editor whose work displays courage, integrity and passion. 

View the Neal Awards gallery online which showcases all 2022 winners and finalists.

Following the Neal Awards, SIIA will also host two additional awards programs this June:

  • June 8 and 9: CODiE Awards, honoring excellence in technology
  • June 22: EXCEL Awards, recognizing excellence in association media

About Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)
SIIA represents more than 450 large and small technology companies, associations and related interests across the diverse information industry. Our members provide the critical data, content, and information that drives financial networks, connects learners and educators and drives the global economy.