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Media Literacy

Colorado Law mandates online resources for media literacy


(TNS) – In an age dominated by social media and vast amounts of information and disinformation, the state of Colorado will soon be helping schools teach preschool and high school students how to distinguish fact from fiction.

The Colorado General Assembly passed bill this spring requiring the state education department to create and maintain an online resource bank of media literacy materials in accordance with the law, also known as House Bill 1103.

Governor Jared Polis signed the law in June.

State Representative Lisa Cutter, one of the bill’s main sponsors, said she was interested in the legislation as there is tons of news and information on offer today – compared to the options she had as a student.

“We had a couple of news sources and we saw the news and made decisions based on sober information,” said Cutter. “Children now have a bazillion sources of information that may or may not be believable.”

At the request of a school or school district, the Colorado Department of Education will provide available resources and assistance in “implementing policies and procedures, best practices, and recommendations related to media literacy,” according to the bill.

There is no obligation for schools or school districts to adopt or implement the materials or information in the current curriculum.

Cutter, a Democrat representing Jefferson County, endorsed the bill by: housemate Barbara McLachlan, a Democrat representing Archuleta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, Ouray, and San Juan counties; and Senate main sponsors were Democrat Brittany Petersen of Jefferson County and Republican Don Corum of District 6, who represents Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, San Juan, and San Miguel counties.

McLachlan said she was the main sponsor of the bill because she “liked what Cutter said,” and especially in the current communication and information climate around the world.

“It’s all day and every day and all the news channels left and right,” McLachlan said. “When we watch, we need to recognize and look at the bias and the intended bias.”

In 2019, Cutter, who has a background in public relations and communications, and Petersen were main sponsors of a bill that created the resource bank that schools and districts can use to teach the courses. The 2019 bill, HB-1110, also created an advisory committee on the development of the resource bank with $ 19,816 allocated in fiscal year 2019-20.

No funding is attached to the 2021 draft law. Information on the bill states that from fiscal year 2021-22, the CDE’s workload will increase to build and maintain a media literacy resource bank and support schools, districts and charter schools.

Content standards for media literacy will be adopted by the State Ministry of Education as part of the next regular update of the standards for reading, writing and civics. The review and revision process for Social Studies and four other standards is ongoing and will extend through June 2022, according to the State Department of Education website.

McLachlan said the bill was drafted because lawmakers refused to present material for a class to students in their final year of high school when the impact might not be as severe. Instead, the material will be available and graded so that teachers and administrators don’t have to “reinvent the wheel,” as McLachlan said, to teach an important subject.

“I don’t think we should be blocking any information,” said Cutter. “But too many people are posing as real news and credible information, and they’re not.”

© 2021 Greeley Tribune (Greeley, Colorado). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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