Column One: Curriculum

By Debra Viadero — May 27, 1992 1 min read

A group of artists, educators, industry representatives, and government officials has formed a national coalition to promote media literacy.

“Eighty percent of Americans get their information from print, television, film, and electronic media,’' said Deborah Leveranz, the director of education for the Southwest Alternate Media Project, which helped spearhead the effort. “Americans need to know how to make intelligent decisions about that information.’'

While such studies have become increasingly popular in recent years, Ms. Leveranz said, the United States lags behind other industrialized nations in teaching media literacy to schoolchildren.

The new coalition, which hopes to press states and the federal government to mandate such studies, is being housed at the National Alliance of Media Arts Centers in California.

Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University are using a $1-million grant from the National Science Foundation to help teachers use computers and calculators to teach algebra.

The three-year program draws on research conducted by Kathleen M. Heid, an associate professor of education at Penn State, and James T. Fey, a professor of mathematics and curriculum and instruction at the University of Maryland.

Over the next two years, 60 teachers from urban and rural school districts are scheduled to enroll in four-week summer sessions to learn the new techniques as well as innovative means of assessing student performance.

Concerned about the lack of nonwritten materials on citizenship for Spanish-speaking immigrants, a class of 8th-grade students at Suzanne Middle School in Walnut, Calif., has produced its own Spanish-language audiotape on the Bill of Rights.

“Their concern was that, in most states with a large influx of Hispanic immigrants, there were a lot of materials that were not written to help them pass their citizen tests,’' said Alan Haskvitz, the class’s teacher.

Led by two students who themselves were not native speakers of English, the students wrote the script for the tape and secured $1,500 in funding for the project from the Bill of Rights Education Collaborative, sponsored by the American Historical Association and the American Political Science Association. A local graduate student was hired to provide professional narration and editing.

The students plan to distribute 180 copies of the tape to government agencies and schools.

A version of this article appeared in the May 27, 1992 edition of Education Week as Column One: Curriculum