More States Take On Media Literacy in Schools

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — July 28, 2017 1 min read
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In the wake of the 2016 presidential election and growth in the amount and influence of “fake news” on the internet, more states are considering or implementing measures to encourage or require schools to teach about media literacy.

Four states passed media literacy-related bills or laws in 2017, and a dozen others are home to coalitions of advocates pushing for such bills, according to Media Literacy Now, an advocacy group.

Last fall, a study from Stanford University found that many teenagers had trouble understanding what was and was not accurate or reliable online.

Since then, nonprofits, companies, and educators have been developing resources and bringing more attention to ongoing efforts to teach students how to understand online information and think critically about what they encounter. Earlier this month, Media Literacy Now checked in on states’ legislative efforts to address this issue.

In 2017, Washington passed a law that is being used as a model by other states. It encourages states to teach about internet safety and digital citizenship along with media literacy, and required a model policy that includes a mix of sources and perspectives. (Education Week reported on media literacy efforts in Washington earlier this summer.) In Washington, there was a bipartisan effort to figure out how to teach media literacy. Advocates say media literacy classes teach students critical thinking skills and help them navigate the complex and evolving world of online information.

Also in 2017, Connecticut passed the Media Literacy, Digital Citizenship, and Internet Safety Law, and Rhode Island and New Mexico also passed bills relating to media literacy.

Six states considered bills based on Washington’s law, which Media Literacy Now says it is using as model legislation. According to Media Literacy Now, New Jersey, Utah, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, and California also address address media literacy in a variety of statutes.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.