SIIA Testimony to NY Education Reform Commission Calls for School System Redesign to Personalize Learning through Technology

I had the opportunity yesterday to provide invited testimony to the “New NY Education Reform Commission” appointed by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo to study and make recommendations for the reform and improvement of the state’s education system. My submitted written testimony describes a comprehensive vision for redesigning education to pesonalize learning through technology, and then makes dozens of reccommendations around each of the Commission’s seven objectives.

My October 16 oral testimony is provided below and video archived (at 02:02:40):

On behalf of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and our 500 high-tech companies, thank you for inviting me today. I am Mark Schneiderman, SIIA’s senior director of education policy.

SIIA agrees with the Commission that, “Future generations of students cannot compete unless we dramatically reform our education system.”

Our industrial-age education practices are largely unchanged over a century or more:
- Too many students are disengaged, not due to lack of technology, but from undifferentiated resources, rote one-to-many instruction, and lack of attention to 21st century skills.
- Time and place are constants, but learning is variable.

Instead, our education system must be fundamentally reengineered from a mass production, teaching model to a student-centered, personalized learning model to address the dramatic change in student daily lives, diversity and expectations.

The mandate is not for marginal change, but for: redesign to free learning from the physical limitations of time, place and paper; and instead customize instructional resources, strategies, and schedules to dynamically address each student’s unique abilities, interests and needs.

The redesign of education can take place without technology and digital learning, but not at scale.  Technology is a teaching force multiplier and a learning accelerator.

This doesn’t mean computers replace teachers, or that all learning takes place online.

It does mean that we use the technology:
1. to collect and analyze extensive student learning data to a degree not otherwise possible;
2. to provide a differentiation of interactive, multimedia teaching and learning resources and student creativity and collaboration tools not possible from one teacher, book or classroom; and
3. to free teacher time from rote and administrative activities to redirect to more value-added instruction.

The result is a more effective teacher, a more highly engaged and better performing learner, and a more productive system.

SIIA’s 2012 Vision K-20 Survey of 1,600 educators found that interest in digital learning is high at about 75%, but only about 25% rate actual technology access and use as high by their peers and institutions.

Here are 10 SIIA recommendations to the Commission and state:

1. Eliminate the Carnegie unit (credit for seat time) as the measure of learning and replace it with a competency-based model that provides credit, progression and graduation based upon demonstrated mastery and performance.

2. Eliminate fixed, agrarian-age definitions of the hours of the school day and the days of the school year and instead provide flexibility for 24/7/365 learning as needed for student mastery.

3. Ensure all teachers have access to a minimum slate of digital tools and supports provided to other professionals, including instructional technology coaches and virtual peer learning networks.

4. Ensure all educators have the skills needed to personalize learning and leverage technology, including by updating the curriculum of teachers colleges as well as teacher licensure and certification requirements.

5. Encourage and support a shift from print-only curriculum to instead provide students with anytime, everywhere access to interactive digital content and online learning.

6. Create a statewide online learning authority for approval and oversight of virtual learning providers to New York students and schools, and loosen arbitrary limits.

7. Invest to ensure equity of technology and digital learning access to change the education cost-curve and provide opportunity to learn, while providing increased local flexibility in the use of state grant funds to meet unique local needs.

8. Set minimum expectations for school/teacher electronic communication with parents and families and support home access to student performance data, assignments and curriculum.

9. Support more flexible higher education policies that end seat-time requirements, allow students to demonstrate prior learning and complete course modules that fit their learning gaps, and receive student aid for study toward skills certifications valued in the job market.

10. Finally, recognize the role of the private sector, which invests hundreds of millions of dollars each year to develop and deliver educational technologies and digital learning. Support public-private research partnerships, and reform the RFP process to enable the private sector to share their expertise, vision and innovative business models.

Our nation’s continued success will require that our educational system adopt modern methods and means to remain not effective and relevant in the 21st century.

On behalf of SIIA and our member high-tech companies, I look forward to working with the Commission to further identify and advance a reform plan for New York education.


Mark SchneidermanMark Schneiderman is Senior Director of Education Policy at SIIA.

Internet Freedom is an Economic Issue, Too

Much has been accomplished in the two years since Secretary of State Hilary Clinton launched a foreign policy initiative designed to press other governments to recognize the unrestricted flow of information on the Internet as a human right. The thirty-four countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) adopted Principles for Internet Policy Making. The principles call for free flow of information on the Internet, especially across borders. This approach extends ideals of free expression and exchange of ideas–at the heart of our First Amendment and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights–to the global Internet.

But there is another way to look at Internet freedom. When a country keeps out or restricts offshore social networks, search engines and micro blog platforms, or restricts access to offshore news and cultural affairs sites, or requires domestic location of cloud computing facilities, or does not allow the transfer of information abroad for data processing, this assault on freedom becomes protectionism. These actions have a substantial effect on trade, jobs, and economic growth. Internet freedom is an economic issue, too. And thinking of Internet freedom as a trade issue provides its proponents with a range of new tools and policy mechanisms for advancing this public policy objective.

Several recent industry initiatives recognize the economic dimensions of Internet freedom. The principles on cross-border data flows, adopted by National Foreign Trade Council, SIIA and other trade associations in November, call for governments to allow the unrestricted flow of information across borders and to refrain from imposing localization requirements on remote computer processing services. In April, the U.S.Trade Representative (USTR) and the EU signed an agreement on trade in the information and Computer Technology services, which also contain these principles of no data barriers and no localization requirements.

Restrictions on Internet-based services are problematic under General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATs). GATs generally prohibits barriers on cross-border flows of information related to Internet-based services when the country has agreed to open that service sector. These commitments can be enforced through a well-developed dispute resolution mechanism at the World Trade Organization. Are existing restraints on Internet-based services acceptable under WTO rules? Exploring that question would provide a step toward thinking of Internet freedom as an economic and trade issue.

It is true that countries retain the right under GATs to pursue a variety of domestic public policies, even if it has a chilling effect on trade. Countries have substantial leeway to provide for privacy, consumer protection, cybersecurity, and the protection of intellectual property. They can also take measures that are ‘‘necessary to protect public morals or to maintain public order.’’ Many restrictions on Internet-based services might seem to be legitimate under these exceptions.

But these exceptions are limited. The public morals exception, for example, must be “necessary” to achieving the public policy goal and no more restrictive of trade than is necessary to achieve this objective. Under existing WTO precedents, countries must do more than claim the exemption under these WTO precedents; they must be able to show that is narrowly tailored to meet the public policy objective.

Trade negotiations can be a tool in advancing Internet freedom. The U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement recently approved by Congress calls for the signatories to “endeavor to refrain from imposing or maintaining unnecessary barriers to electronic information flows across borders.” The U.S. is attempting to improve on this hortatory language in discussions surrounding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. They have tabled proposals to eliminate barriers to information flows across borders and to prohibit a domestic presence for remote data processing.

The TPP proposals acknowledge that countries can have different substantive privacy regimes, but narrows this exception by proposing that enforcement cannot take the form of a ban on transfers of information. A country’s privacy regime must allow global companies to demonstrate compliance with local privacy rules through mechanisms such as binding contracts or adherence to enforceable codes of conduct.

The proponents of Internet freedom need new tools and policy mechanisms for advancing this noble objective. Thinking of Internet freedom as a trade issue provides just that.

Mark MacCarthy will participate in a free panel discussion, “The Global Internet and the Free Flow of Information,” Tuesday, February 7th, 9:30 am-12:30 pm at the Pew DC Conference Center, for part two of Media Access Project’s fifth annual Forum Series.


Mark MacCarthy, Vice President, Public Policy at SIIA, directs SIIA’s public policy initiatives in the areas of intellectual property enforcement, information privacy, cybersecurity, cloud computing and the promotion of educational technology.

Digital Policy Roundup: Swirl of Activity Around Online Copyright Infringement Legislation as Congress Returns

As Congress heads back into session this week, substantial activity continues to swirl around legislation to curb online copyright infringement. The Administration announced a position on legislation, indicating that it had reservations on provisions that would impose DNS blocking, but committing to passage of legislation this year. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), lead sponsors of the legislation, last week announced that they would be dropping DNS blocking from the House and Senate versions of the bill, but indicated that they wanted to press forward with the modified legislation.

Lamar Smith said that the markup on the legislation would resume in his House Judiciary Committee in early February. Meanwhile, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Internet Caucus co-chair and a key supporter of the legislation, indicated yesterday in his remarks at the State of the Net Conference that any successful legislation would have to have buy-in from both content and tech companies and suggested bringing the sides together to negotiate their differences. Also last week, a group of Republican Senators wrote to Majority Leader Harry Reid asking that the legislation not be brought up for a procedural vote when the Senate returns next week, citing the need to examine the effect of the bill on cybersecurity. As of January 18, however, the bill remained on the Senate schedule for a procedural vote on January 24.


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy.

Digital Policy Roundup: 2012 Starts with a Flurry of Tech Policy

Happy New Year. 2012 is starting out much like 2011 ended, with a flurry of tech policy activity, particularly in the U.S. Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has scheduled a key procedural vote on the PROTECT IP Act for Jan. 24, the second day the body will be in session for the new year.

Following that, Reid has also indicated that consideration of comprehensive cybersecurity legislation is also one of his top priorities for the first work period, even though draft legislative language was just made available in mid-December. And with the House scheduled to return a week before the Senate, it’s possible, if not likely that Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) will proceed with the Committee markup of SOPA. Needless to say, the next couple weeks are going to be busy!

Also on the horizon, ICANN will begin accepting applications for new gLTDs on Thursday (January 12) despite continued objections from some members of Congress and some industry groups. The Coalition for Online Accountability, including SIIA, has recently met with NTIA leadership and the IP Enforcement Coordinator, to discuss the role of the U.S. government in curbing potential abuses of new gTLDs.

Following up on the launch of FedRAMP in December, the Administration last Friday released baseline security controls for cloud providers. Consistent with previous indication from GSA officials, these are significantly reduced from the draft controls made available about a year ago, to which SIIA and many cloud providers expressed significant concerns. GSA has reiterated that this will be an evolving list, but there is no further formal opportunity for comment.

And right before the Holidays, SIIA submitted comments to the FTC regarding their proposed revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule. While we expressed our support for several of the FTC’s conclusions, such as preservation of the current definition of a “child” and the “actual knowledge” standard, SIIA raised concerns regarding several of the proposals, including the proposed significant expansion of the definition of “personal information,” elimination of the “e-mail plus” method for notice and consent and various other changes.

SIIA also recommends some new approaches to accommodate new methods of notice and consent and encourages the Commission to take steps to ensure that it is applied as efficiently as possible with respect to school-based educational partners and other providers of educational materials and services.


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy.

Digital Policy Roundup: Judiciary Presses Forward with SOPA; White House Unveils IT Reforms

December continues to be anything but a slow month in Washington. Yesterday, House Judiciary Cmte. Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) confirmed his plans to markup the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA, H.R. 3261). In addition to scheduling the markup, Smith released a revised version of the bill that reflects weeks of working closely with stakeholders and other members “to strengthen the bill and address legitimate concerns from groups who are interested in working with Congress to combat foreign rogue websites.” Changes to the revised bill as highlighted by Committee staff include: elimination of the redirection clause for infringing websites, orders for an interagency report on the domain name system, addition of a new clause to relieve Web firms of monitoring sites, and clarification of the definitions re: which sites and companies are covered.

Last week, Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel made several important announcements regarding ongoing efforts to reform federal IT and embrace cloud computing. In what he characterized as a “year of change in Federal IT,” VanRoekel declared that “cloud computing has become an integral part of the government’s IT DNA,” and made the following announcements:

1. Released a memo to formally establish FedRAMP (the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program), a long-anticipated program intended to reduce the duplicative efforts, inconsistencies and cost inefficiencies when assessing and authorizing cloud systems.
2. Released the Shared Strategy Memo to provide the roadmap for agencies to increase use of shared solutions through leveraging tools to do more with less, in accordance with the cloud-first policy and cloud migrations under the IT Reform plan.
3. Released the TechStat Report highlighting tools and practices for agencies to turn around or terminate failing projects at the agency-level.

And tomorrow, the House Energy and Commerce Sbcmte. on Communications and Technology has scheduled a hearing to air concerns by the growing list of U.S. lawmakers regarding the pending roll-out of ICANN’s Top-Level Domain Name Program. This hearing follows a similar one by the Senate Commerce Committee last week where Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and other Cmte. members warned ICANN officials to proceed with caution and head their voices of concern.


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy.

Digital Policy Roundup: Facebook, Cyber Security and Small Businesses Dominate the Hill

Headlining the day, the FTC announced that Facebook agreed to settle the Commission’s charges that it deceived consumers. The proposed settlement requires Facebook to take several steps to enhance its privacy practices, including the terms for which it provides notice to consumers and provides for consent for information sharing, and it would require the Company to undergo privacy audits over the next two decades. The settlement underscores the need for broad privacy legislation, this is further confirmation that the FTC’s long-standing authority over unfair or deceptive trade practices is sufficient for providing thorough enforcement in the privacy arena.

Keeping the cybersecurity train moving forward in the House, and keeping consistent with the House Cybersecurity Task Force goal to address cyber on an individual basis within the committees of jurisdiction, there are two cyber developments scheduled for this week. First Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) will unveil new bipartisan cybersecurity legislation on Wednesday to provide the government “the authority to share classified cyber threat information on potential attacks with approved American companies.”

And on Thursday, the House Small Business Committee will hold a cyber hearing on protecting small businesses, where Phyllis Schneck, Vice President for McAfee, Inc., will be testifying on behalf of SIIA. The hearing will also include testimony from Task Force leader Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), highlighting the recent recommendations of the House Task Force.


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy.

Digital Policy Roundup: Clock Winds Down on 2011, Cyber and Privacy Gear Up for Action in 2012

With Congress in recess for the Holiday, and the “Super Committee” officially resigned to stalemate, it’s unclear how the last month of 2011 will play out in Washington. However, last week saw significant developments for the advancement of cybersecurity legislation. Notably, in a letter to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) indicated that the Senate will consider the issue in early 2012. At about the same time, the Ranking Members of six key senate committees of jurisdiction on Cybersecurity sent a joint letter to the President expressing their desire to move forward on several key cybersecurity issues, and highlighting those that are not quite ready. The one thing that’s for sure is that early 2012 will see a flurry of cyber discussions.

Similarly, indications last week are that privacy issues will also heat up in early 2012. While a firm date has still not been given for the official release of the Commerce Department report on privacy, it’s expected the Report will be released the week of Nov. 28th. Importantly, while the Report will continue to support a legislative Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, officials have expressed the goal to begin moving forward with a multi-stakeholder process to craft privacy codes of conduct as early as January.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Commerce released the results of the 22nd US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) meeting between U.S. and Chinese government officials, where a number of commitments were made by Chinese officials during the meeting to address issues between the two countries. Most significantly to SIIA members, the summary indicates that China will take steps to address the use of unauthorized copies of software by government agencies and state-owned enterprises. China pledged to complete this software legalization process by 2012 for Chinese provincial entities and by 2013 for municipal and county-level governments.

And in other IP news, the House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has announced his plan to mark-up the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), H.R. 3261 on Dec. 15th. However, following the lengthy and sometimes contentious hearing that took place last Wednesday, it is quite possible the date will slip while Committee members deliberate several key provisions of the bill.


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy.