A few months ago, Funds For Learning reported that i-SAFE, Inc. received a $300,000 earmark to expand and promote its services which include a “E-rate Compliance Package” related to E-rate program and the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act. Funds For Learning has learned that i-SAFE will likely receive an additional $650,000 earmark to offer its services to schools. This will bring the total earmarks for i-SAFE to nearly $1 Million dollars to develop and promote its services. How’s that for an economic stimulus?
The Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act was signed into law in October 2008, and requires schools receiving E-rate funding to make certifications, in addition to those required by CIPA, related to “educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response.”
Since its enacting, the FCC has been working on the details of how the requirements of the law will be implemented into the E-rate program. In the eight months since the passing of the act, no guidelines, procedures, or E-rate program requirements have been released by the FCC. In fact, in a recent News Brief, the SLD said that until the FCC releases any guidance, the current rules are the prevailing compliance requirements related to CIPA. Granted, the FCC has been a little preoccupied lately with the DTV transition (most of the headlines on their home page are related to this), but we have to wonder why the FCC hasn’t released the guidance or even an announcement to say that they’re working on it.
Even in the vacuum of FCC guidance, i-SAFE has been promoting its “E-rate Compliance Package” as a “one stop, full service program” to certify that a school or district is in compliance with the law–a law for which guidance has not yet been issued. This is concerning, as some schools may be lulled into a false sense of security believing that i-SAFE is some sort of official certifier of the new compliance requirements. What’s more concerning is that Congress is continuing to infuse money into an organization that is marketing an unofficial certification to as yet unpublished rules from the FCC.