Members of Welcome to Reality meet with the sponsoring senator (from left to right): Anthony Gay, Sen. Terry Gerratana, Qur-an Webb, Marcus Stallworth
We are thrilled to announce that thanks to the work of our partners in Connecticut, Welcome to Reality LLC, Connecticut legislators have passed a law that will help to elevate media literacy education in the state’s public schools. The bill passed by a wide bi-partisan margin, with a unanimous vote of the 18 Republicans and 18 Democrats in the Senate and a vote of 144 to 3 in the House of Representatives and will become law on July 1 as Public Act 17-67
“With the passing of this bill, it’s with hope that all people from different disciplines and experiences can come together and work towards the inclusion of media literacy in schools – not to add a new burden, rather lessen the demands and take education to new heights,” said Qur-an Webb of Welcome to Reality, an organization founded by a group of social workers focused on youth and families.
Webb, along with colleagues Marcus Stallworth and Anthony Gay, have been working with Sen. Terry Gerratana for several years to educate policy makers on the value of media literacy to address the urgent need for young people to acquire key 21st century literacy skills that will serve them throughout their lives.
“The internet allows us to access more information than ever before, but unfortunately it has also begun to blur the lines between fact and fiction,” said Sen. Gerratana. “In order to prepare Connecticut’s students to be responsible citizens in the modern world, we must ensure they are educated in media literacy. This will help them discern what information can be trusted, and what cannot be. These are basic skills that will help future generations stay informed, stay safe and become good digital citizens.”
This is the second media literacy law for the Welcome to Reality organization. In 2015 the group was successful in getting a law passed – also with the sponsorship of Sen. Terry Gerratana – that requires schools to teach students about safe, ethical and responsible use of social media starting in the 2016-2017 school years. Public Act No. 15-94 [pdf]
The new law will help schools to meet the requirement by bringing together experts and state resources to identify best practices and methods of instructio so students will learng to safely, ethically, responsibly and effectively consume and create media using the array of technologies available.
12 people offered written testimony to the Joint Committee on Education, while Marcus Stallworth appeared at the hearing in February where he said,
“In my role as a national trainer with the Child Welfare League of America, adjunct professor, and as a parent, I see countless occurrences where children are winding up on the wrong side of social media and technology. …
Children are getting inundated with imagery and messaging hundreds of times a day and are being left to their own devices to decipher the purpose and intentions of what they see and hear.
He said the committee would enable like-minded individuals to assemble a strength-based, solution-focused approach to meeting the media literacy needs of Connecticut citizens, and provide additional support to schools.
See all testimony here.
You can find more information here including additional analysis and votes. Connecticut residents: you can help the media literacy movement by thanking your legislators who voted in favor of the bill. They appreciate hearing from constituents.
The next step will be to work with the Department of Education to convene the advisory group. Welcome to Reality will be leading that effort and those who want to be involved should be in touch with them:
Qur-an Webb firstname.lastname@example.org or Marcus Stallworth email@example.com