By Lisa Levine, MLN California state chapter co-chair

We’re happy to report that progress is being made here in California. Our model bill – Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s SB-945 –  has passed the Assembly and the Senate and has arrived at the governor’s desk. It requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), State Board of Education (SBE), and an advisory committee to identify best practices and recommendations for instruction in digital citizenship, Internet safety, and Media Literacy, and to report back to the Legislature

The bill also requires the SPI to establish procedures within the California Department of Education to accomplish the following goals:

  1. a) identify the critical needs for effective educational programs and practices, developed, and disseminated to public schools.
  2. b) Coordinate effective programs and practices with appropriate offices in the department, schools, school districts, county offices of education, institutions of higher education, the Legislature, business and industry, and the community.
  3. c) Ensure that all programs developed are objectively evaluated for impact on pupil learning, cost-effectiveness, and the overall instructional program.
  4. d) Develop and implement procedures to ensure that educators throughout the state are made aware of effective programs and practices.

The bill also establishes the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), as an advisory body to the SBE. The IQC is responsible for recommending curriculum frameworks, developing criteria for the evaluation of instructional materials, and evaluating and recommending instructional materials adoptions.

Currently, there are not standards for teaching students about aspects of digital citizenship (i.e., cyberbullying, sexting, privacy, digital footprints, discerning credible information on the internet). SB 947 would establish an advisory board comprised of education experts, working with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office, to develop best practices and strategies that support school districts, including professional development for educators and administrators.

Unfortunately, with amendments, the report is not due until 2025, and in today’s fast moving media environment, a lot will change between now and then. New research published this week found that most young people ages 13 to 17 now have their own smart phones  – 89 percent – up over six years from just 41 percent.

Another positive step forward here in California is SB-830 which is also at the governor’s desk. Introduced by Senator Bill Dodd, this bill requires the State Department of Education to provide on its web site, by July 1, 2019, a list of  resources and instructional materials on Media Literacy, including Media Literacy professional development programs for teachers.

The requirements for action in this bill will hopefully be implemented more quickly and efficiently than SB 947, which would require the creation of a framework for curriculum which could take some time to build.  I have had experience sitting on a committee that reviewed an existing state framework and that review took an entire academic year.  Hopefully the resource list required here could be available to educators by the July 1, 2019 deadline.



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