A clearer understanding of media literacy and the practice of digital citizenship awaits public school students in Colorado, thanks to recent legislation.

A bill directing the Colorado state Department of Education to create a K-12 media literacy curriculum was signed into law on June 3, 2019, by Colorado Governor Jared Polis. A media literacy advisory committee of educators and media professionals will oversee the effort, making recommendations for ways to teach students how to evaluate media critically, and distinguish real news from ‘fake news,’ as well as recognize bias and misinformation.

House Bill 1110’s sponsor was first-term Representative Lisa Cutter, a Democrat from Littleton. Rep. Cutter reached out to Media Literacy Now when she decided to sponsor media literacy legislation; ultimately, she introduced a version of one of our model bills.

“As a country, our decisions are only as good as the information we take in to form our opinions,” says Cutter. “The media landscape has changed dramatically in the last few decades. Students are facing the largest and most complex information landscape in human history and it’s crucial that we provide educators with the tools necessary to help our youth better understand the world around them. If we want people to make educated decisions, we have to first educate them on how to make educated decisions.”

The legislation ensures broad representation, specifying that the advisory committee be made up of a cross-section of constituents, including teachers, school administrators, librarians, and parents and students from rural and small school districts as well as urban districts. Print and broadcast journalists, and media literacy academics and advocates will also be represented on the advisory committee.

The committee’s report will include recommendations for revisions to state education standards in reading, writing and civics, suggestions for materials and resources for teachers, as well as best practices and strategies to support school districts in implementing the new curriculum.

The new legislation received bipartisan support in the Colorado House and Senate. Its quick passage – less than five months from introduction to law – indicates that support for media literacy tools, from schools, lawmakers and citizens alike, is vital and continuing to gain momentum.

The Commissioner of Education will be appointing members to serve on the advisory committee which will launch and begin work in September of 2019. If you are a Coloradan, who would like to be a part of this effort, please contact Media Literacy Now.