FCC decisions are a "step back."

American Library Association • February 7, 2017

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FCC moves to stop Lifeline programs

Lifeline logo

FCC regulators have told nine companies they won’t be allowed to participate in Lifeline, a federal program meant to provide affordable internet access to low-income consumers, weeks after those companies had been given the green light. The program, known as Lifeline, provides registered households with a $9.25-a-month credit, which can then be used to buy home Internet service. The move, announced February 3 by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, reverses a decision by his predecessor, Tom Wheeler. The FCC has also ordered the retraction of multiple reports, including the “E-rate Modernization Progress Report” and “Improving the Nation’s Digital Infrastructure.” ALA President Julie B. Todaro released a statement February 6, calling the FCC decisions a “step back in efforts to close the homework gap and digital divide.”...

Washington Post: The Switch, Feb. 3; ALA Washington Office, Feb. 6

Visualizing library funding

Foundation Center library funding map

Libraries are underfunded organizations that play a critical role by providing free programs, resources, and services to millions of adults, children, and youth. But many lack the resources to innovate and build upon the ways they can meet community needs. With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Visualizing Funding for Libraries’ Data Tool was developed by the Foundation Center to help libraries find funding opportunities, increase understanding of funding sources, and track funding trends....

Foundation Center

State ESSA plans enter the legislative phase

ESSA logo

As state legislative sessions forge ahead, states’ Every Student Succeeds Act accountability plans will be vetted by lawmakers as the new law requires. Unlike for waivers from ESSA’s predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act, the federal government requires state boards of education to show that meaningful consultations have taken place with state legislatures over their ESSA plans. In addition, governors have 30 days to review a plan before it’s submitted to the federal Department of Education....

Education Week, Feb. 7

School choice glossary

Excerpt from School Choice Glossary

The new Education Commission of the States School Choice Glossary defines the multiple school choice options available to state policymakers, provides an overview of how states approach implementing these options, and includes links to related resources. States may structure some choice programs—particularly vouchers, education savings accounts, and tax credit scholarship programs—quite similarly or give them similar names, potentially creating confusion around terms....

Education Commission of the States, Feb. 6
ALA news

Bills introduced to defund NPR and CPB

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)

US Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo., right) has reintroduced two bills, H.R. 726 and H.R. 727, to permanently defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio. Lamborn said, “CPB received $445 million during Fiscal Year 2016, and this money could be put to better use rebuilding our military and enhancing our national security.” H.R. 726 prohibits direct federal funding of NPR and H.R. 727 defunds the Corporation for Public Broadcasting....

KMGH-TV, Denver, Feb. 3

Ohio Gov. Kasich cuts state library funding

Warrensville Heights branch, Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library

When Ohio Gov. John Kasich rolled out his new two-year state budget in early February, he talked about leveraging the strength of Ohio’s public libraries, turning them into “continuous learning centers.” His budget also cuts the state public library fund by nearly $7 million next year. Kasich thinks libraries can provide the access and technology to assist many types of online programs, but if Ohio’s 251 public libraries are going to expand their duties, they will have to do it without any extra money under Kasich’s budget....

Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, Feb. 5

The Met makes its art freely available

Washington Crossing the Delaware, by Emanuel Leutze, MMA-NYC, 1851

On February 7, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, known by many as the Met, announced that it is placing more than 375,000 images of public-domain works in the museum’s collection under a Creative Commons Zero dedication. The release, which covers images of the great majority of the museum’s holdings, is part of the Met’s Open Access initiative and will enable anyone, anywhere, to freely access, use, and remix photos of some of the world’s most well-known works of art....

Wikimedia Blog, Feb. 7; Now at the Met, Feb. 7; The Artstor Blog, Feb. 7
ALA Annual Conference

Librarian wins AHA James Harvey Robinson Prize

Robin Katz (left) and Julie Golia

University of California, Riverside, Outreach and Public Services Librarian Robin M. Katz (left) has won the James Harvey Robinson Prize from the American Historical Association. The prize is awarded to the creators of a teaching aid that has made an outstanding contribution to the teaching of history for public or educational purposes. Katz and historian Julie Golia (right), her project partner at the Brooklyn Historical Society, were recognized for the excellence of their work on TeachArchives.org....

UCR Library, Jan. 6

Librarians take up arms against fake news

Janelle Hagen

Janelle Hagen (right), middle-school librarian at Lakeside School in Seattle, and many other librarians are equipping students to fight lies, distortion, and trickery to find their way to truth. Helping students become smarter evaluators of the information that floods into their lives has become increasingly necessary in an era in which fake news is a constant. Also, two University of Washington professors recently announced a new class that will focus on the ways data is misused to mislead the public....

Seattle Times, Jan. 28, Feb. 6

Misinformation also leans left

An image of fires burning multiple tipis supposedly showed police attacking Dakota Access pipeline activists. But the image was from a 2007 HBO film and the premise of the story was false

Sam Levin writes: “The 2016 presidential election led to international debates about filter bubbles and the spread of misinformation, with many analyzing how the proliferation of fabricated content may have helped Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. But Trump’s chaotic first weeks in office have laid the groundwork for what could be a significant uptick in fake news, misleading articles, and propaganda with a distinctly liberal bent.”...

The Guardian (UK), Feb. 6; Snopes, Feb. 2
ALA Midwinter Meeting

Fake news and conspiracy theories

What if the history they teach us isn't even close to what really happened?

Jesse Walker wrote in his 2013 book The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory that American conspiracy theories, while focused on an evolving set of events and groups of people over time, reflect certain persistent anxieties in the country, including popular uprisings, shadowy elite machinations, and fear of foreigners. Walker’s rubric potentially serves as a useful way to evaluate both the politics of today and the media’s role in debunking the fake news stories spreading on Facebook and Twitter....

Nieman Journalism Lab, Feb. 6

State education bills could encourage pseudoscience

Science denial is okay

So far, four states have introduced bills in 2017—South Dakota, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Texas—that would allow science denial in the classroom. Since 2014, at least 60 “academic freedom” bills (which permit teachers to paint established science as controversial) have been filed in state legislatures all over the country. Louisiana passed one in 2008, and Tennessee did in 2012. Some version of the South Dakota bill has been introduced in each of the past four years, but this is the first time it passed in the state senate....

Washington Post, Feb. 5

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