Last week, SIIA hosted a joint Advocacy Day in partnership with the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN), International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). Advocacy Day brings together state administrators, district leaders, vendor partners and others– for a day of discussions focused on the latest in ed tech policy.
The morning kicked off with interviews with three (of the four) FCC Commissioners. Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner Nathan Simington and Commissioner Geoffrey Starks sat down for one-on-one interviews sharing their thoughts on the current landscape offering insights on broadband access, device connectivity, cybersecurity and other topics. The Chairwoman highlighted her newest proposal to allow E-rate funds to connect school buses to WiFi. Chairwoman Rosenworcel has publicly advocated for the FCC to take a more active role in helping close the homework gap–a term which she coined—and discussed the major benefits of her proposal for students, especially for those who live in rural areas. Commissioner Simington, who sat down with SIIA’s Victoria Akosile, emphasized the importance of device capabilities for connectivity and the importance for partnerships and information sharing to address issues unique to ed tech. Simington, who came to the Commission from The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (), underscored the value of including education technologists and other technology experts guiding decision makers in the right direction on key issues. Noting those on the ground working at the state and district level have a better perspective of where resources can be utilized more efficiently, he invited advocates to get in touch and share insight with the FCC and other leaders to inform their process, especially as they update broadband maps of the nation to understand the levels of coverage.
Following the interviews with the Commissioners, Office of Educational Technology Deputy Director Kristina Ishamael gave remarks and officially announced the RFP to revise the National Educational Technology Plan is officially open for comment. The plan which was last revised in 2017, will serve as the blueprint for the nation in navigating the use of ed tech in the classrooms, which has been a staple in many classrooms and will continue to be an important part of delivering quality and inclusive classroom and online learning. Assistant Secretary of Education Roberto Rodriguez wrapped up the morning session thanking the ed tech advocates by recognizing the important role ed tech plays in providing equitable learning experiences.
The afternoon session continued on the Hill where more than 50 advocates from 21 states met with policy makers and their staff, connecting on critical issues for ed tech including funding for E-Rate, student data privacy, closing the homework gap and funding professional development and learning opportunities. Read the joint press release on the event here.
For more information on SIIA’s ed tech advocacy efforts please contact Pam Golden at firstname.lastname@example.org.