Recognizing fake news is now a required subject in California schools

Written by Jeppe W

Nov.21 - 2023 10:36 AM CET


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California has taken a significant step in educational reform by mandating media literacy education.

This initiative, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, aims to equip students with critical skills to discern misinformation and navigate the complexities of the digital world, according to local newspaper Pleseaton Weekly

Assembly Bill 873, spearheaded by Assemblymember Marc Berman, integrates media literacy into existing curriculum frameworks, including English, science, math, and history-social studies.

This approach ensures that media literacy is not treated as an isolated subject but is interwoven into various educational contexts, beginning next year.

The move is a response to the growing challenge of misinformation online and aims to enhance students' ability to identify fake news and comprehend the pivotal role media plays in a democracy.

This law is crucial in an era marked by a decline in public trust in the media, especially among young people.

Despite its groundbreaking nature, the law has faced criticism for its lack of provisions for teacher training, an advisory committee, and measures to assess its effectiveness.

However, Berman emphasizes the urgency of implementing the law to start providing media literacy education as soon as possible.

The new law also complements the state's effort to broaden computer science education, which encompasses aspects of media literacy.

In practice, teachers like Merek Chang from Hacienda La Puente Unified have already been incorporating media literacy into their lesson plans. These efforts include teaching students to analyze content critically and creating media, such as TikTok-style videos for science projects.

Librarians have been at the forefront of promoting media literacy, with professionals like Jennifer Ormsby offering resources and techniques like lateral reading and reverse imaging. The new law references the Modern School Library Standards for guidance in media literacy.

Despite its gradual rollout, advocates and educators are hopeful that local school boards will prioritize media literacy, recognizing its vital role in addressing societal polarization and fostering critical thinking skills among students.

For more information on the development of media literacy education in California schools, interested readers can explore related articles and resources