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« Addition to DOPA letter | Main | Doin' something about DOPA »

DOPA opposition letter

I've e-mailed this to my representative. I'm contacting both the ISTE and AASL legislative committtees. Any of you?

Kudos to Will Richardson. Find his letter here. 

Liz at I Speak of Dreams, puts this legislation in the context of a more far-reaching plan. Interesting reading and she promises her own letter soon.


Congressman Gil Gutknecht
1530 Greenview Drive SW
Suite 108
Rochester, MN 55902

Dear Representative Gutkneckt:

I am writing in opposition to the Deleting Online Predators Act 2006 also known as DOPA. This amendment to the Communications act of 1934 (an extension to the Children’s Internet Protection Act) was introduced by Mr. Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania on May 9, 2006. As a classroom teacher, librarian and administrator with over thirty years experience in both public and private schools, I believe I have some germane insights into this bill.

The intent of the amendment is one with which all responsible adults would agree: to protect minors from the predatory behaviors of adults. And indeed, some cases have been recorded in which children have been solicited using online communication tools (social networking tools such as blogs, wikis, and chat).

But the amendment as written is too broad and overly restrictive, preventing educators from using social networking tools for educational purposes, blocking sites of legitimate educational value, removing local control from states and school districts, placing a burdensome responsibility on technology support personnel in school districts, and doing nothing to protect children using these technologies outside of school or public libraries.

Children are best protected by:

  •     Having adult supervision during all online activities.
  •     Engaging in effective training programs for children, parents and educators that stress safe and ethical behaviors
  •     Developing life-long strategies for insuring personal privacy.

Legislation that would require students be taught safe Internet behaviors would go further in achieving the goal of protecting children that requiring any particular Internet protocols or set of websites be blocked.

We all want safe environments for our children in both the physical and virtual worlds. Please consider the most effective means by which that can be achieved. It is not DOPA.

Thank you and all the best,

Doug Johnson
Director of Media and Technology
Mankato Area Public Schools
Mankato MN

(Phone number included.) 

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  • Response
    Educating kids on what choices they should make is wonderful and we need to do that all the time. Assuming that just because they know what they should do means that they will do it is dangerous and wrong. We can, and should, still teach the technologies in question safely.

Reader Comments (2)

Great letter. Thank you for sharing it. I am writing my own and look forward to looking at others for ideas.
May 12, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDarla Grediagin
I just happened to be a regional meeting on content filtering, starring 8e6. It was truly frightening...on two because all this focus on catching people doing bad things feeds into the same pervasive sense of paranoia that is scaring people away from these sites and because of the amount of time and money being put into "drilling down" into records and "getting granular." As far as I could tell all schools represented at this meeting try to block these social sites, but at the same time, people admitted that kids were using proxies to get around filters. So what is the point? One person did ask if this company was involved with the Chinese government and if so, then he would have ethical issues pertaining to the use of this company. The company rep. to his credit did not get all defensive, but still, didn't have an answer, and promised to "look into it." I can see a day not far off when we'll have to take fingerprints from computer keys. I had a strong sense of cognitive dissonance listeing to this converesation and recalling seeing recent numerous articles discussing the educational use of these sites. And besides, didn't kids using one of these sites give a heads-up to authorities about a plan for a school shooting?
"The thing we have to fear is fear." Montaigne
May 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCandace Broughton

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