Promoting Online Safety: The Home School Partnership

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Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse: A Project of the Consortium for School Networking
Promoting Online Safety: The Home School Partnership

Press Release

The Consortium for School Networking Unveils Resources to Promote Online Safety at Home and School

First Set of Resources to Facilitate School-Home Communication about Online Safety

Press Release - For Immediate Release
For more information contact:

Keith Krueger, CEO
Consortium for School Networking
202/861-2676, ext. 118
keith@cosn.org

Charlene Blohm
C. Blohm & Associates, Inc.
210/656-2324
charlene@cblohm.com

ORLANDO, FLA. (Feb 4, 2003) - The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) today released "Promoting Online Safety: The Home-School Partnership" toolkit. The toolkit is a collection of resources to help guide school officials when they talk to parents and community members about protecting children online, both at home and at school.

A national nonprofit organization, CoSN advances the use of information technologies and the Internet in elementary and secondary education to improve learning. The toolkit is an outgrowth of the Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse initiative launched by CoSN in 2000.

"Teachers and parents form an important partnership in helping children to be safe users of the Internet," said Bob Moore, executive director, information technology services, at Blue Valley USD 229 in Overland Park, Kan., and CoSN chair-elect. "CoSN's 'Promoting Online Safety' toolkit provides valuable resources that will help schools communicate more effectively with parents and the community about online safety. This is a great follow-up to 'Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse,' which has helped guide our school district as we have worked our way through Internet safety issues."

Between 1997 and 2001, the percentage of U.S. public school classrooms connected to the Internet grew from 27 percent to 87 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Surveys have projected that by this year, more students will access the Internet from school than can access it at home.

"For the past 10 years, CoSN has played a vital role in helping to develop technology leadership in our nation's schools," said Keith Krueger, the organization's CEO. "Now with the CoSN toolkit, school officials will be better equipped to work with parents and community leaders to ensure that children have a positive experience, no matter where they go online."

The Toolkit was made possible through the generous contributions of the BellSouth Foundation (www.bellsouthfoundation.org), the AOL Time Warner Foundation (aoltimewarnerfoundation.org), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT; www.microsoft.com/education), and Sprint (NYSE: FON, PCS; www.sprint.com).

"BellSouth has a strong history of community involvement and we are excited to be able to contribute to the educational process of America's youth," said Fred Shaftman, president of BellSouth Business. "The Internet is the number one communications vehicle for children today and, in addition to providing data solutions that enhance educational capabilities, BellSouth is proud to team with organizations such as CoSN to ensure that the available technology is used responsibly."

Passage of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in December 2000 imposed new requirements on schools that accepted certain kinds of federal education technology money. Under the law, schools had to install what the law called a "technology projection measure" on computers that accessed the Internet and develop an Internet safety policy after soliciting public input. The CoSN toolkit is designed to help schools continue that conversation, so that educators, parents and community members can work together to promote a positive online experience for children.

"At America Online, we have always been committed to ensuring a safe and welcoming online environment for children," said Terry Crane, vice president of education and family products for America Online. "We are thrilled to be a sponsor of the CoSN toolkit, which supplies educators and parents with valuable resources they can use to guide children safely through the online world. The toolkit is a great complement to AOL's new Safety Clicks website (www.safetyclicks.com) that provides tools, tips and games aimed at teaching children the importance of online safety. We look forward to continuing to help kids, parents and educators to better understand and manage online safety both at school and at home."

In May 2002, the National Research Council (NRC) issued a congressionally mandated study of how best to protect children when they went online. Among other things, it concluded that "parental education about the Internet continues to be an important part of a comprehensive program of Internet safety education for children.... Teachers and librarians have an important role in educating parents about the Internet - its benefits and its dangers - and they are sources of advice about how to cope with the dangers the Internet may pose." CoSN contributed its expertise to the NRC study, and sees its new toolkit as the kind of initiative the panel was trying to encourage.

The growth in Internet access in the schools has been accompanied by a dramatic growth in the bandwidth they are using. In 2001, the NCES found, only 5 percent of public school connections were through the kind of low-speed dial-up lines that schools had been relying on in the mid-1990s. CoSN launched its Safeguarding project in 2000 to help schools respond to the new challenges of protecting children who were using school networks that were growing larger and delivering more and more educational content into classrooms every day.

"Support for education is a priority at Sprint," said Ralph Hodge, Sprint's president of business and wholesale markets. "We recognize that good schools are key to the vitality of our communities where we work and live. Through a wide variety of programs and initiatives, we work closely with educators to implement communications technology and services that improve the education environment, foster parental involvement and enable teachers to safely link their students to information from around the world."

Homes with children are more likely to access the Internet than homes without children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, by a margin of 53 percent to 37 percent. As a result, educators and parents need to work together to ensure that children have a positive online experience, no matter where they are accessing the Internet.

"Along with the unprecedented benefits of increased connectivity at school and at home, new risks have emerged that concern parents, teachers and the entire community," said Anthony Salcito, regional director, Microsoft Education Solutions Group. "Microsoft has long recognized that designing safety into our products and providing schools and parents with trustworthy tools and resources are essential to help kids have safe and rewarding experiences in a connected world."

About the 'Promoting Online Safety' Toolkit

The toolkit components been designed so that they can be used either individually or together to help school leaders make a presentation to parents or other community members. The components include:

  • A handbook, "Promoting Online Safety: The Home-School Partnership," designed to help school leaders develop the message they want to convey to parents and community members, based on their local circumstances.

  • A short, 10-minute video that highlights the experiences of two school districts, one in Pennsylvania and one in Kansas, as they worked through questions surrounding the best ways to protect students when they go online.

  • A presentation designed to help school leaders explain to parents and community leaders the steps their schools are taking to help protect children online. Some of the content is provided, but in the notes to other slides, suggestions are made to help educators "tell their own story."

  • A flyer designed to help school leaders announce an event related to online safety. It includes online safety tips for parents that can be sent home with other school communications.

Visit www.safewiredschools.org/toolkit to download the toolkit components or order a full toolkit.

About the Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse Initiative

Since it was formally launched in October 2000, CoSN's Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse project has emerged as one of the most respected voices in helping schools understand how best to protect their students when they go online and school requirements for complying with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Over the years, CoSN's message has consistently been that online safety and information literacy are important to promote, whether or not a school chooses to use a filtering technology. The project's goal has been to help schools make the best possible decisions for their particular circumstances. For more information, visit www.safewiredschools.org.

About the Consortium for School Networking

CoSN is the preeminent national voice on the use of the Internet and information technologies to improve K-12 learning. It played a leading role in creation of the E-rate and other key national education technology initiatives over the past decade. It is a "CIO-type" organization for education technology leaders from the school district, state and national level.

In addition to Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse, another major CoSN leadership iniatitive is Taking Total Cost of Ownership to the Classroom, www.classroomtco.org. This is CoSN's definitive program for school districts outlining best practices for building and operating information networks cost-efficiently and the primary source of information for district information professionals.

A major new CoSN initiative is the development of the Council of School District Chief Technology Officers (CTO).

Visit www.cosn.org or call 202/861-2676 to find out more about CoSN's programs and activities that support leadership development to ensure that information technology has a direct and positive impact on student learning in elementary and secondary schools.

About BellSouth Corporation

BellSouth Corporation is a Fortune 100 communications services company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, serving more than 44 million customers in the United States and 14 other countries.

Consistently recognized for customer satisfaction, BellSouth provides a full array of broadband data solutions to large, medium and small businesses. In the residential market, BellSouth offers DSL high-speed Internet access, advanced voice features and other services. BellSouth also offers long distance service throughout its markets, serving both business and residential customers. The company's BellSouth AnswersSM package combines local and long distance service with an array of calling features; wireless data, voice and e-mail services; and high-speed DSL or dial-up Internet service. BellSouth also provides online and directory advertising services through BellSouthR Real Pages(SM).com and The Real Yellow Pages(R).

BellSouth owns 40 percent of Cingular Wireless, the nation's second largest wireless company, which provides innovative data and voice services.

About AOL

America Online, Inc., the world's leading interactive services company, has always been at the forefront of efforts to help create a safe and enriching online environment for children. AOL's award winning Kids Only Channel offers compelling content and features created for the Internet's youngest users. AOL@SCHOOL is a free online learning service that provides age-appropriate learning portals with the leading online educational material selected by education experts. Millions of families use AOL's industry-leading Parental Controls to help ensure their children have a safe and rewarding online experience. AOL is proud to have partnered with the National School Boards Association (NSBF) to launch Safety Clicks (www.safetyclicks.com, AOL Keyword: Safety Clicks), a national campaign that informs and educates parents and children about the importance of online safety. In addition, AOL and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children established AOL AMBER Alerts, the first nationwide initiative to use the Internet to expand the network that helps locate and rescue abducted children.

About Sprint

Sprint is a global communications company serving more than 26 million business and residential customers in over 70 countries. With approximately 75,000 employees worldwide and more than $26 billion in annual revenues, Sprint is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying state-of-the-art network technologies, including the United States' first nationwide all-digital, fiber-optic network and Sprint's award-winning Tier 1 Internet backbone. Sprint provides local voice and data services in 18 states and operates the largest 100-percent digital, nationwide PCS wireless network in the United States. For more information, visit www.sprint.com.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software -- any time, any place and on any device. Empowering students, teachers and life-long learners around the world to reach their full potential is a top priority for Microsoft Corporation. For more than 15 years, the company has worked with educators, educational organizations and industry partners to expand the world of learning through the use of technology. www.microsoft.com/education/

Editor's Note: To view the webcast of the press event announcing the Toolkit, visit www.safewiredschools.org/toolkit.