tv FCC Chair Discusses Communications Policy CSPAN July 14, 2022 9:31am-10:01am EDT
internet to libraries across the u.s., with the chair of the sec, jessica rosenworcel, and the access to bridge the digital divide. she spoke during an interview at the american library association's annual conference. >> now, i'd like to introduce you to our opening speaker, federal communications commission acting chairwoman, jessica rosenworcel. fcc chairman rosenworcel works to promote greater opportunity, accessibility and affordability in our communications services in order to ensure that all americans get a fair shot at 21st century success. from fighting to protect net neutrality, to ensuring access to the internet for students caught in the homework gap, she
has been a consistent champion for connecting all. she is a leader in spectrum policy and is responsible for developing policies to help expand the reach of broadband to schools, libraries, hospitals, and households across the country. as acting chairwoman. she has continued to be a fierce advocate on consumer protection issues, most notably taking swift action to improve the agency's ability to combat unwanted robo calls. acting chairwoman rosenworcel bring the communications and public service to the sec. prior to joining the agency. she served as senior communications counsel for the united states senate, committee on commerce, science and education under the relationships of rockefeller iv
. >> please help me in welcoming jessica rosenworcel. ♪♪ . >> so we're going to do a little bit of a fireside chat with your chairwoman ap and we're so excited. >> i'm excited to be here and excite that had all of you came here. this has been a long time. you don't see real people and see their eyes, not through a screen. >> exactly. >> it's pretty glorious, we didn't know what we had. so i'm glad you all came. >> thank you so much and we're deleted to be here in d.c. with you.
you know, from that earliest days in this country, america's libraries have been a democratizing force, serving as a gateway to the world's knowledge and resources. the internet was a real game changer for lbralibrariries, ane organize with high speed broadband, technologies and platforms and the skills used in both. but we've made progress certainly in our collaborative work and k-12 schools, college and university campuses and communities across the country. a 2020 public library association study provides a recent picture of how libraries serve as digital equity hubs. the study found that more than
88% of all public libraries offer formal or informal digital literacy programming and more than one third have dedicated technology programs and trainings there. so last year, they offered a resolution in support of broadband, as a human right. we know that university productivity requires collective collaborative efforts from all stakeholders, and the levels of government. but there's no doubt that more action is needed. as the ala resolution also noted of course, communities of color. low income residents rural and indigenous, people with disabilities and people experiencing homelessness are more likely to be without a strong connection to the internet and many of them, of course, also lack the
appropriate equipment and the skills to access reliable resources. too many people still lack affordable and robust access to broadband and devices and training that needs them where they are and supports them in a life long learning needed to survive and thrive in our age. so as chairwoman, this is a heavy load, right? as chairwoman of the federal communications commission, you are certainly one of the most powerful federal policy makers when it comes to information access and of course, you've been an ally for so long and an ally for all of us as well. can you tell us, what has been your professional path to leadership and what first ignited your interest in communications and your path in
leading the fcc. >> i appreciate that, and libraries are responsible for it, i won't sit here today and tell you since i was a small child i want today run the federal communications commission. [laughter]. >> you wouldn't believe me and it's also not true. i think it's important for people to acknowledge some serendipity in their life and that's probably what brought me to washington. i didn't anticipate i'd be here more than a few years, but i found myself working in the trenches at the fcc and staff, implementing some of the communications act of 1996, in the heyday of the dial-up era, and from there, i went on to capitol hill where i worked for really two legislative giants, senators from hawaii and rockefeller from west virginia, the father of the program that
we'll talk about later. and i had an incredible time, actually. i feel very fortunate to have worked for both of them. i learned a lot about legislating and getting things done, and recognizing that progress sometimes is slow, but you've got to work at it and one of the ideas i went to senator rockefeller with, about 10 years after 9/11, is i found that there was one outstanding recommendation from the 9/11 commission and it was this idea that we needed to get police and firefighters and public safety personnel, all operating off the same sector and resources, because on that horrible day, we had so many people who wanted to help and they came together from different jurisdictions with different radios and they couldn't communicate. so, i went to the senator with, you know, what might charitybly
known as a hair-brained scheme, and maybe we can take some over allocated for broadcast, and build an entity and make sure that nationwide has a firsthand access and recognizing other things to do that day. he asked me with working at that out and eventually we were able to kin vince president obama and his team, and it ended up in the state of the union and passed in 2012 and i was invited to go to the fcc and help implement it and learned very fast, that coming up with a good idea is one thing and implementing it is something else. so i spent time on the fcc and then left for bit and so i came back in the minority and then president obama appointed me the chair late last year and i was the first woman in 87
years. [applause]. >> and it's your first, too. >> i am a first, the first asian-american of this. >> if you're the first, you can't be the last. >> that's right, not the last. >> and you also have to make up for lost time. >> that's right, absolutely. you know, access to information is a bed rock principle, and for us, that includes certainly much more than books on a shelf. it's assets of digital content as well. and information only available in a digital format. these days, access to information is almost impossible without a high speed internet connection. access to a divide and the digital literacy skills all of those things to thrive online.
how would you define digital equity? >> there's a definition that's not my own i like from the national digital inclusion i a lines and i'll probably get it wrong, but individuals and communities need to have the technical capacity to fully participate in modern society, our democracy and economic life and i think for that to be true. we need to make sure 100% of us, no matter who we are, where we live or where we came from, have consistent and reliable access to broadband. >> yes. (applause). >> i would add affordable in there, too. >> yes, absolutely. next time i say that. >> very good, very good. you know, one of the i think so this that i was very lucky is
to spend a little bit of time during my tenure and now, more tribal lawyers are eligible for the discount program, that's an enormous system in policy making. [applause] and thanks to our ala policy advocacy chamber for making that happen, among many others. so it is one-- it's a great way to address digital inequities. libraries of all kind, school, public, academics and all context, their positions right where people most need that, that connecty connectivity. >> and i contacted to look at how libraries are connecting
and bringing closer to their communities. i learned a lot. last month i spoke with michael bradley of eugene public library, eugene has 500 hot spots to loan out thanks to the extraordinary generosity of eugene public library foundation and the friend. eugene public library and a shoutout for all of our library sanctioned foundations and forbe joining us at this conference. [applause] >> the story that i wanted to convey to our audience and to you today is that eugene public library reserves 200 of the 500 total hot spots for nonprofit organizations and their communities that are serving large numbers of unchallenged people in the community. so those hot spots aren't just for the clients, they're for operational use for the nonprofits so they can do that
for their community. it's a wonderful story. are there any library standouts for you during the pandemic? >> i think so many. and making their signal available even when their doors were closed. i was learning early in the pandemic that san francisco was open for child care for-- >> and that's not my jurisdiction, it's an amazing thing. when we needed institutions to step up, they were there. and i also, i'm in awe of-- i'm a d.c. resident and i'm in awe of giving out rapid tests and my family has picked them up on multiple location, while those things don't involve technology and connectivity as i see it, they are a senl tral connection for the community. and i also just a few weeks ago i was in san antonio where i
visited the main branch, it's imposing on the outside and inside it's totally warm. and i met with the libraries, and i was struck, he had been waiting and the person next to him asked him question and didn't speak english well, and looking for visual cues to go on the right bus and the right place. and talked about how important to have visual cues and more likely to watch videos than to read. and so came right back to the library and assessing everything in the community. this is the kind of person who might come into this branch. how do we make it more accessible? and i thought there was a world in that little story, which was a library working at everything in the world warned him are. in his community and figuring
out how to replicate that. and i feel that in libraries across the country every day. thank you, thank you. [applause] >> you know, one of the things about the eugene public library experience is that libraries are really multipliers when it comes to demonstrating potential impact in their communities. i think you have shared so many good stories about how libraries have made a difference every day. i think one of your colleagues, she refers to libraries staying first, not necessarily first respondents, but first informers because there's so much to bring everything to the community and eradicate this information as well. and we're also aware that not all libraries services really enjoy the level of support that places like eugene public library or maybe even in san
antonio, might enjoy or d.c. for that matter. what would you like libraries to know about the fcc and program programs that could help them better serve their communities? >> i'm so glad you asked. so, let's talk about new programs first and then we'll talk about old standbyes. new programs, during the pandemic we were able to get congress to develop a program called the emergency connectivity fund. yeah, i'd like to rename that, but january way, it was a $7 billion funds that we're still workingen and it was designed to make sure that schools would have access to funds to get their students connected at home for remote learning and libraries would have access to funds to get their patrons connected at home. if the parents need it, we need to do things more, and the pandemic shone the light on and
i want to thank senator markey and chris van hollen, and those working morning, noon and night to make sure, and able to port more than 900 countries across the state doing that and by one measure we had students who weren't connected at home. which is a really big deal. [applause] >> that's a new program and we're dependent on congress to continue to fund it and that, of course, but i want to talk about an old standby and mentioned the programs earlier and i worked for its father so i feel lake a relative, but today, it was a program back in 1996 that congress created, and that was the dial-up era. >> right. >> i had an aol account, i was proud of it, it's a long time ago. but congress saw clearly we needed to bring this
information super what i to libraries and set up the program to help support that. so that library does everything across the country to get funds to have connections and over the years we've been able to update that program. we've moved it from just a program to connect libraries and schools to making sure that capacity is what you needed today. and i hope over time we can tan to update it. so we meet you where you are and get you the connections that you need. i think this program, you're right, it a quiet powerhouse. it does done more to connect libraries and schools in this country than any other program and i'm committed to make sure. >> thank you. (applause) >> and thank you and the team for making aid more easy to
apply for. >> we're going to keep working on this. it's amazing the digital age programs and have the equivalent of paper work and those that need it most online. >> thank you . . >> (applause). >> speaking of cool, in the same program i mentioned with the eugene public library, i spo-- i spoke with a librarian in florida, i think she's in the audience today, alma serves a very small culturally rich community with a sizable population of migrant students. i asked alma about her work and how it fast fosters the equity
and unless she sees when her students don't have connectivity at home. here is what she has to say, i think there's a little clip. we wanted to keep extending and i think one of the most ambitious projects that we're involved in. >> well, so i meet with teachers and so based on the standard or the lesson they want, sometimes i'll be teaching a lesson which teaches them a data base or treechg them how to use our online catalog and access e-books and raud yo books. and this is how things change based on whether or not what the teacher's goal is for them in preparing a lesson from the library point of view. well, we're in a rural community. when students don't have connectivity. they fall behind their peers who do. >> okay, i know closing the
homework gap is a big priority for you at the fcc. the homework gap, and many students shared with us today, she interacts on a daily basis. school librarians are information specialists and instructional leaders not only for learners, but for fellow educators and several of the parents. many schools across the nation have their school librarians to thank for training teachers and getting classrooms online during the pandemic. and so, a shout out to our school librarians. [applause] we have a lot of fandom in the library world. >> thank you, you don't get this over zoom, you know. >> so school libraries and especially school librarians are uniquely positioned to each
every student in the school community the digital skills they need in order to be successful and to connect effectively. many of us in the library world see digital skills as a kind of the literacy. what do you think constitutes digital literacy and how should we pressure it. >> first thing's first, the federal communications is experts on network technology if you want to talk about expanded wi-fi. >> nice. >> and i'm probably not the person to come to to design digital literacy. what i do, i point to the ala's definition. >> there you go. resident expert. yay! >> and it is about having the cognitive and technical ability to find, evaluate, create and communicate with information and communication technology. i think that's a pretty good
definition. >> all right. thank you. and we applaud the fcc partnership to make sure we have digital literacy throughout our country. tell me a little bit more about your thinking around the homework gap and how the sec can make that different. >> i first are the started talking about it in 2015 and i noticed around the country and i spoke to school administrators and librarians and i hear the same thing over and over again. we have a lot of students, we were hanging out in the parking lot of the library after it's closed to catch the free wi-fi signals. they saw kids eating in fast forward restaurants doing their homework with us, and you know, when i was growing up, i didn't need any of that. i had paper, a pencil and my brother leaving me alone and i
could do my homework. but those days are over. every child needs internet access and this was apparent back in 2015 when i started talking about it because i know there was data that suggested that seven in 10 teachers that roux assigning homework and one in three households didn't have it. and they overlapped the homework gap because when i think we talk about the digital divide, we have to be very particular who is affected and the next generation of students were have you goling and it didn't seem absurd that we could come up with something to close the homework gap and bridge the divide. i talked about it and talked about it. suddenly we had the pandemic and i didn't have to explain it anymore. they saw with their own eyes and we had the emergency connectivity fund that i mentioned earlier. and the truth is, i don't think we can stop until 100% of us
have access at home and that includes every student. >> thank you. >> (applause) >> librarians serve with skills and success with today's work force. in terms of impacts, perhaps in addition to the homework gap we could talk about the learning gap in capturing the real truth of the digital divide. one library professional i talked to, also, in the instagram live series is chris martinez. chris serves as the information technology division director for the harris county public library in the houston area, 13.6% households in harris county don't have internet access, so i talked with chris last year, how to get the community online and here is the clincher.
>> the library applied for and received thousands of hot spots and chrome books through the emergency connectivity fund, ecf that you spoke about. and i spoke with chris after harris county library began this process and he told me about the new project that they just started. so if we could take a look at this. we wanted to keep drawing and we wanted to keep extending. one of the most ambitious projects we're involved with harris county, emergency services and broadband team are putting up antennas the same that at&t have and verizon and t-mobile and broadcasting that signal into some of the most-- some of the areas that have the most need and that signal is-- can be broadcast directly into those people's home. and ours is to look at
distribution clablgs r challenges . this would put internet directly in the homes of the kids that badly need it and so engaging with the strict's role that we've been involved in, trying to connect the right people, trying to get the students qualified and that's a game changer for us and happy to be a part of it and a part of the conversation again. all of these programs started a conversation. they started with the what-ifs, you know. >> thank you. [applause] >> mr. chairman, representative, what if-- . >> that's the right question. >> that's sort of out of pandemic these partnerships happened and we see harris
county as an example and of course they couldn't do it without the wonderful support from the fcc. i'm wondering how the pandemic has changed or deepened your understanding of digital gaps and the roles that libraries are playing and can play? >> he will with, i think it's become apparent that they can and should play a bigger role and just today we signed a memorandum of understanding with imls and it's amazing to me that the fcc has been running the program since 1966 had never thought to do that. here we have the largest education technology funding programs that goes to school and-- >> we're leaving this to honor our more than 40-year commitment to live gavel to gavel coverage of congress. the u.s. senate is coming in for more debate on judicial and executive nominations.
a confirmation vote on president biden's nominee to be general council. cia has been scheduled for 11:45 eastern this morning. this is live coverage of the senate here on c-span2. order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. let us pray. p. the chaplain: eternal god, we know that you exist. every time we hear a baby cry or touch a leaf, we are reminded of your presence in our world. lord, continue to look with favor upon our senators. enable them to go from strength to strength as they strive to live in