Great Bit by Bit podcast recently by Bob Sprankle and Cheryl Oakes on the proposed DOPA legislation in the US. Refer to their podcast shownotes for some good background links and other opinion pieces. I appreciated a lot of their insights– and I don’t think Bob digressed too much with his Star Wars analogy of Anakin and the Jedi Council’s refusal to train him. Often I think we see conservative, reactionary folks attempting to stop the waves of change by putting their heads in the sand– and worse, trying to legislate new rules that require the rest of us to join them with our heads in the sand. 🙁

Here in Lubbock, Texas, where I live presently, the Lubbock Independent School District prohibits sex education for students of any age (that deals with the biology of sexual reproduction, contraceptives, etc.) despite the fact that we have one of the highest youth STD rates in the nation. I think our community leaders continue to choose to ignore a very glaring problem and not address it, despite the fact that most communities in the nation follow a different (and I would say more enlightened) path on this.

Again I am reminded of “The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress” by Virginia Postrel– the situation with the DOPA act (that is still just proposed legislation) fits right into the frame she draws in her book. The reactionary statists continue to square off against the dynamists, and I continue to find myself more aligned politically with the latter group rather than the former. So why does it seem many in both our main US political parties are statists who put their faith in bureaucracy and new legislation, rather than groups of people working together to solve common problems?!

Are we going to try and effectively surf the waves of change as best we can, or are we going to stick our heads in the sand while the tide comes in and washes away our sand castles? We need more voices in the political sphere sharing a vision of informed education on issues like social networking, cyberbullying and youth blogging. Despite the (apparent) ardent wishes of social conservatives, we can’t (and shouldn’t want to) ban the Internet. Yes we need to protect children, and yes we need to regulate the Internet, but we shouldn’t even seriously consider legislation that would have such a sweeping, chilling effect on read/write web collaboration, idea sharing, and expression.

One of the best ways to fight this is through student publication of work via classroom blogs, podcasts, digital storytelling festivals, etc. I think every school district educational technology department in the nation should have as part of its mission the regular publication of student work for the community so others can see the great work students are doing– and the power of using digital tools to collaborate and share ideas. School district PR folks should work closely with local media reporters and get them to cover the POSITIVE side of student social networking, and not just leave readers with the “scary predators on MySpace” side of the story.

Maybe this is a banner I can take up in my next job…..

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