Commentary: Why, as an educator, I care about Net Neutrality

Ivette Bayo Urban

To my community of elders, children, educators, information professionals, business and community leaders:

I care about Net Neutrality because as an educator, I am a connector of information — the flows, accesses, capacities and environments that can create a human connection of experiences we can share.

Let me tell you why I do what I do. I am a boundary spanner of sorts. I cross official and unofficial boundaries building community, sharing information and attempting to do so in respectful, responsible and reciprocal ways. I educate and lead from where I am and I help to create a shared vision of what we can aspire to be.

Over the last few days, I had the pleasure, honor and privilege of being one of the conveners of the Critical Pedagogy Summit. I value people and processes which allow me to be surrounded by very smart people. Luckily as an educator, I have learned that there is only so much my formal education and perspectives can teach me about the world. And it is in these relationships and in the coming together and crossing borders where I learn the most and the best quality lessons. For example, a soon to be released card game, “Potlatch: A Game about Economics” crosses many pedagogical and knowledge system borders by teaching young folks about envisioning different possibilities.

I selfishly wanted to learn more about the concerns over Net Neutrality and I wanted to create a space to come together – and that we did. I was surrounded by impressive, smart and interested folks that have been in my life and learning path to talk about Net Neutrality. The room was filled with Scholars, Information Professionals, Educators and Leaders who came together for the purpose of envisioning and writing.  We shared, we healed, we learned, we taught and we centered around net neutrality – literally. We spent four hours sharing stories and connecting. Those who had commitments left, but Jen Ten Bears and I stayed behind while new friends joined us to share the conversations of the morning with folks who crossed our path. That evening, Dr. Jeanette Bushnell, an Edmonds resident and semi-retired researcher, game developer and educator, compiled a written statement to share with folks broadly and also specifically with participants joining the second half of the Critical Pedagogy Summit — for a day of connecting, networking and sharing and holding space for people.

While there are plenty of reasons that keep us united, I would say there are also plenty of reasons that divide us. One of the things that came up in the room on Friday was “Why Net Neutrality?” when there are other concerns — such as tax reform and health care reform. There was a sense of frustration. Dr. Bushnell reminded us that there are rooms with invested folks who are working on the other issues such as the American Medical Association, and our job is to trust the experts to decipher, communicate and provide actionable items we can tackle. Our job was to be the experts in the room centering around Net Neutrality, to take the language provided by our field, Library and Information Professionals, such as the statement issued by the American Library Association, and do the same.

Below I will share the statement Dr. Jeanette Bushnell developed, but first I want to tell you a story about why I care. I have taught in Title 1 schools, to students whose parents cannot afford basic necessities, and therefore are on free or reduced lunch. Throughout my life, as a young single mother and as an older single mother, I have been on WIC, food stamps and other assistance myself, I know what it feels like to not be able to afford food that will nourish my body, or services that others have and that I would like to be able to provide. When I was applying to the PhD Program at the University of Washington, I had to make a decision between cable and WiFi – and for eight months I was not able to afford either. I completed my PhD applications and job applications while any one of the conditions were true – sitting in my balcony hoping there was a free WiFi signal available. Or driving to the nearby McDonald’s or Starbucks after the library had closed to borrow their WiFi because I needed to get information to others or receive information. I was not able to afford certain things because I needed to be able to afford others and resources were scarce.

I study people and their personal relationships with technology with emphasis on how the social and technological systems operate in our daily lives. The orientation of my scholarship is towards information equity and educational equity.  I care about Net Neutrality because our future generations should not have to choose between affording food or quality, community sourced, information. I want the elderly, those experiencing homelessness, our educators, those who need support and have information to share to be able to share information freely. This is why libraries are so important to our democracy. They have values and ethics that are made visible and they aspire towards serving all, removing barriers and questioning and challenging processes, as all good leaders do. The American Library Association’s Code of Ethics supports our democracy, that states that “all individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate, and second, that society makes an equal commitment to the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of work, and the viewpoints of both the author and the receiver of information.”

— By Ivette Bayo Urban, MEd, MSIS

Ivette Bayo Urban is a PhD Candidate at the University of Washington’s iSchool, part of FemTechNet, does a whole bunch of cool stuff like recently being one of the conveners for the Critical Pedagogy Summit and facilitating a session at the inaugural LSC Step Up event. In her research she’s had the opportunity to interview many people for whom digital access and literacy is not a simple matter.


Centering Around Net Neutrality:

A statement from the Critical Pedagogy Summit, Dec 1, 2017

Intended Audience:  Politicians, Educators, Information Professionals, and Leaders

Who:  Information Professionals, Educators, and Leaders came together for the purpose of envisioning and writing.  We shared, we healed, we learned and we taught.

Statement:  Removing net neutrality benefits the individuals and entities that value maximizing financial profit.  History has shown such preferential benefits will negatively impact other individuals and groups – those who are often referred to as ‘marginalized’ or ‘minority’.  Maintaining net neutrality is a social equity issue.  It is an economic class issue.  It is an education and knowledge access issue.  All of these issues are known to be tied to systemic oppressions – they ARE the definition of systemic oppression.

ACTION: Don’t ignore the Net Neutrality issue.

Here’s how to fight it in less than 12 seconds:

Do you oppose the repeal of net neutrality? Call the FCC 1-202-418-1000. Leave a message saying “you oppose the repeal of Net Neutrality”.

Here’s how to fight it in less than 60 seconds:

  1. Go to com (the shortcut John Oliver made, which takes you to the hard-to-find FCC comment page).
  2. Click on “express”.
  3. Fill out the basic info just like signing a petition and comment that you want to keep net neutrality as it is.
  4. Click to submit, done.

Note: you need to hit the enter/return button once you enter your name on the keyboard or touchscreen. Otherwise, you will get a submission error. (Copied from David Gilberholm, shared by Dr. Jeanette Bushnell).

Pass it along! You’re literally filing a comment in the FCC proceeding – that is direct impact!

Interested in more? Here are a few suggested readings:

Find out what the Library and Information Professionals say about Net Neutrality:

Network neutrality is the concept of online non-discrimination.









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