Media literacy law survives long debate and Republican opposition | news
After an eight-day delay, House legislators went through another two hours on Friday with a media literacy bill that Republicans claim will offer one-sided, left-wing views from the media.
House Bill 21-1103 would enforce the recommendations of an advisory committee formed under HB 19-1110 that set standards for a media literacy curriculum for public schools.
Co-sponsor Lisa Cutter, D-Littleton, said the bill would require school districts to incorporate media literacy into reading, writing and literacy standards the next time those standards are reviewed.
The burden of evaluating the validity of information has shifted from the media to the individual, Cutter said. “We need to ensure that our students are taught access to and evaluation of media in all its forms,” she told the House of Representatives on Friday during a second round of second reading debate. The first, on March 11, involved the partial reading of a 158-page report by the Advisory Committee on Media Literacy Standards.
Friday’s debate brought more heat, inflammatory rhetoric and a long list of amendments and questions from Republicans.
Debate and disagreement are a necessary and healthy part of democracy, said Cutter at the beginning of the debate.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t argue about the facts and instead discuss solutions?” She asked.
Cutter also noted that foreign countries like Iran intentionally spread misinformation about President Trump during last year’s election cycle.
Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, the other co-sponsor of the bill, said people shouldn’t fear the term media literacy. She also advocated a healthy debate, but one with facts, not opinions.
The material used to teach media literacy would be controlled by a small group of people, according to Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park. He didn’t say who.
The government should not impose its philosophy on the student body and no uniform point of view should be taught in schools, which he later called “left worldview”.
McLachlan said that based on local control, educators can decide which materials to use. These can be materials provided by the Department of Education or another organization. Nobody tells them what to use, she said. The Democrats opposed an amendment that would make this explicit.
The resources available to schools from the CDE are sort of a library, McLachlan said, similar to an encyclopedia. This prompted MP Ron Hanks, R-Penrose, to point out that in Romania, former President Nicolae Ceaușescu wrote the books in his country’s libraries. These facts are what the Romanian President said, he said.
Ceaușescu wrote a 32-volume book with the title “On the way to building a multilaterally developed socialist society”. When he was thrown out (and eventually executed) after a 1989 revolution, his books were shredded in the national library and around the world.
“How do we know encyclopedias are fact-based here?” Asked Hanks. “Whose facts are we using and who is funding them?” He also called the bill Orwellian and a violation of the First Amendment.
Rep. Andy Pico, R-Colorado Springs, said the resource bank should be renamed Pravda Bank. He also referred to CNN as the communist news network, the Los Angeles Times as “LA Slimes” and the Washington Post as “Washington Compost”. If the resource bank were kicked off the bill, we could have a conversation, he told the Democrats.
The House of Representatives accepted two of the changes proposed by the Republicans. The most significant was offered by Rep. Tim Geitner, R-Colorado Springs, towards the end of the debate and in collaboration with Cutter to facilitate public contributions to the materials offered in the resource database.
“We don’t prescribe facts,” Cutter said of some of the questions raised by the Republicans. “There is a way to determine facts…. We suggest that children understand how to validate the information coming in on their phones and give them the tools to do so, she said.
HB 1103 received preliminary voting approval on Friday and is likely to be headed for a final vote in the House of Representatives on Monday.