Senate committee endorses “media literacy” mandate in schools Capitolnewsillinois.com
Senator Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, unveils bill requiring schools to teach media literacy during a virtual committee hearing on Tuesday. (Photo credit: Blueroomstream.com)
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Work on a bill to limit the use of seclusion and physical limitations continues
BY PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – All high schools in Illinois would be required to offer instructions on understanding and evaluating news and social media as part of their computer courses under a bill tabled by a Senate committee Tuesday.
Senator Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, argued on the Senate Education Committee that the bill is needed because of tremendous changes in the media landscape in recent years.
“In the digital age, the Internet has become the most important public space,” she says. “Young people consume, create and share news in all digital media. You debate and discuss social, political and civil issues in online rooms. They are also prone to persecution and misinformation. “
During the January Lame Duck session, lawmakers passed an education reform bill, backed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, aimed at improving racial and ethnic justice in education. This bill, which Governor JB Pritzker signed in March, required all schools to offer “developmentally appropriate” classes in computer skills.
Villa said House Bill 234 would complement that requirement by adding “media literacy” to the definition of computer literacy from the 2022-2023 school year.
According to the bill, this would include instructions on how to access information across different platforms; Analysis and evaluation of media messages; Creating your own media messages; and social responsibility and citizenship.
But Senator Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, asked how objective schools could be when it came to teaching students how to rate news reports by separating factual news from “fake news”.
“What is fake news and what is not fake news,” she asked.
Villa responded that teachers are trained to teach students how to use media and that the difference between fake news and real news is the same as the difference between fiction and non-fiction.
“So teachers would decide what fake news is for themselves based on their own opinion,” Bryant asked.
She hypothetically asked what would happen if a district decided that CNN host Anderson Cooper was a liar. “You could basically say that everything Anderson Cooper says is fake news,” said Bryant.
However, Villa said the instruction was only intended to teach students how to review information in a news story to help them judge what is correct and what is not.
The draft law was passed by the committee with a 7-2 vote and is now going to the Senate. It had previously happened on March 20 with 68-44 in the House of Representatives.
Seclusion and reticence
The committee also put forward bill that would require the Illinois State Board of Education to enact rules to severely restrict the use of time off, isolated time off, and physical restraints in all public schools and non-public special education institutions.
This is an issue that lawmakers tried to address during the lame Duck session in January when a bill passed unanimously in the Senate but stalled in the House of Representatives.
The State Board of Education passed rules in 2020 that would gradually end the use of seclusion and vulnerable or concealed shackles by July this year. House Bill 219, passed by the House of Representatives on March 22nd at 113-0, would actually give the State Board an additional two full years through the 2023-2024 school year to phase out these practices.
Senator Ann Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights, the main Senate sponsor of the bill, admitted the extension has generated some opposition to the bill. She said she plans to continue amending the bill before the final vote, including shortening the transition period so that it would go into effect in the 2022-2023 school year.
The use of isolation and restraint in school settings has long been criticized by proponents of students with disabilities.
Cheryl Jansen, director of public policy at the disability rights organization Equip for Equality, said the practice of physical restrictions in particular has proven dangerous and in some situations even fatal. She said restraint was disproportionately used among students with disabilities, and a disproportionate proportion of those students were black or Latino.
Guy Stephens, who heads a group called Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint, said he took action to ban the practices after his autistic son was traumatized by the use of seclusion and restraint in school.
“Leaning reluctance is dangerous. It can cause severe trauma and significant injuries to students, teachers and staff, ”he said. “While school staff sometimes report that they need restraint to keep everyone safe, the data tell a different story. Every time restraint and seclusion are used, the risk of injury increases, so students and teachers are more likely to be injured when using restraint. “
The bill was passed 13-1 in committee, with assurances from Gillespie that she would reintroduce it to committee after a change in the Senate.
Capitol News Illinois is a non-profit, non-partisan news service that covers state government and is distributed to more than 400 newspapers across the state. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
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