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Learning at its Best

Legislating Obstacles

This is cross posted from the Disruption Department blog

On Saturday, I came across a story on the Verge reporting that the South Carolina general assembly has passed a bill blocking the ability for municipalities to create their own wi-fi networks.  You can read the entire bill here.

To even see the perspective of the South Carolina assembly here is difficult, especially regarding the fact that many participating members of the committee that passed this bill receive campaign contributions from the two juggernaut internet service providers in North Carolina, Time Warner and Comcast.

As always, the comments on the article were of interest, being that they descended into political rants fairly quickly.

Whether or not you believe that government has the right/responsibility/ability to “compete” with the private sector is of little matter here. Providing families with low-cost broadband should be apolitical.

Apolitical because it’s outside politics, and beyond it.  Apolitical because providing access to the world, and all the information the world has to offer, should be a civil right.  Not a personal choice dictated by market forces.  The mere fact that government entities have to create legal barriers for communities to address something that should, in 2012, be a free service to all people, concerns me about what direction we can go.

60% of my students don’t have access to the internet, broadband or mobile.  That means that 60% of my students are receiving inferior global educations, and missing out on the chance to explore and play on their own, without the intervention of a teacher telling them what they should be interested in.

We’ve already got apartheid in our schools, but legislation like this entrenches it.

So we have the responsibility to take this off our policymaker’s table.  This shouldn’t be in the wheelhouse of any corporation, nor should it be a matter of political ideology.  As educators, entrepreneurs, and community members interested in connecting our students with knowledge and with each other’s ideas, we should push hard on our policy makers to value communication of communication companies.

Today I’m a little bit ashamed to be a 21st century citizen, when we have politicians clinging to 20th century politics.

I’ll be in touch with some sort of next steps regarding how we can ensure this doesn’t happen in our communities as well.  Please let me know if you have any ideas.

About mrsenorhill

Director of Innovation, Special Projects @collegeboundstl, Co-Founder and CEO @thedisruptdept, hustling for creation literacy for all; want to cook better.


3 thoughts on “Legislating Obstacles

  1. La ley es un culo, un idiota…

    Except for the few laws that deal with violence between individuals in a given society, most laws pertain to matters economic, thereby revealing societies’ true interests and their most sacred fears… I see the split between ‘public’ and ‘private’ interests to largely involve fear of economic loss and the loss of power/control.

    I note that ‘global’ seems to be a watchword these days — I am certain no one fully comprehends that concept, or at least few comprehend it in the same fashion, and wonder if it is simply a metonym used to cloud what is really going on — maybe, “buy more of this in order to keep up with the Jones”.

    I think two questions need to be addressed:

    Who benefits?
    Who pays?

    I am coming to perceive that ‘not playing the game’ may be the only way to win, particularly with technologies that may provide access to information but which do not result in improvement in the daily lives or life circumstances of individuals. Yes, accessibility to information is important, but if nothing changes because of it, what is the point?


    Posted by Brent Snavely | July 4, 2012, 8:22 am
  2. Thank you for reading and for the comment!

    The concept of global is not new, people have yearned for connections to the outside world since the advent of human consciousness. Sometimes for good, sometimes for bad, but addressing the world beyond one’s backyard does indeed have relevance beyond cliche.

    Companies & policymakers benefit and we pay.

    I’m a bit distressed by the last point you made. Not one single person in my community has ever argued on the metaphysical benefits of being disconnected. Rather, most wish they could afford constant connection to ELECTRICITY and heat in the winter, let alone the internet. Since public life is now conducted on the web, we have a responsibility to ensure everyone has access to it. Simple as that. This is not just information, but also links to family members who still live in Mississippi. This is learning about a real estate company that wants to gentrify the neighborhood, thereby generating windfall profits for himself, and pushing everyone else out. This is the chance to learn about knitting at home because everyone at school thinks it stupid.

    It is irresponsible to argue the benefits of being a luddite when that risk is being taken with other people’s lives, not your own.

    Posted by mrsenorhill | July 4, 2012, 9:47 am
    • Perhaps there has been a miscommunication. Please assume I eschew belief in “money” as a re, that I see Adam Smith’s ‘seminal work’ on economics as little more than a power play, and that I view my ‘privilege’ of having been adopted and then educated as an imposition of power by White Christian charity.

      Let me relate a short tale that may provide a bit of insight into my life and perceptions:

      BIA folks met with tribal elders on a Rez, telling the elders they wanted to address the lack of power on the Rez. The elders said, “We have plenty of Power here, we just don’t have electricity.”

      I am a Sun Dancer and believe there are: Four basic life factors (Air, Water, Food and Land); and, Four basic life principles (Love, Faith, Respect and Community).

      I have not changed my hourly attorney rates in over sixteen years (they were at the low-middle when I began my solo practice) and I provide free services to people I know who need them the most, but who cannot afford them. My primary diet for the past 18 months has consisted of beans, rice and cheese — I think “luddite” does not apply here…


      Posted by Brent Snavely | July 4, 2012, 10:39 am

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