Illinois has just passed a new law that requires a unit of media literacy in every high school. This is a big step forward for the 2 million students of Illinois who will have an opportunity to learn key life skills and habits of inquiry in an increasingly complicated media environment, and a step forward for educational equity across the state. The legislature passed House Bill 234 during the current session and sent it to the governor’s desk. This major victory for the media literacy community was made possible by MNL board member Alicia Haywood’s efforts in working with Illinois Representative Elizabeth Hernandez, who introduced the bill, and attorney Maaria Mozaffar in crafting the bill’s language.

The state Board of Education will determine how to prepare and make available instructional resources and professional learning opportunities to develop the unit of instruction. Local media literacy experts are now working to support this unique legislation by providing guidelines for high school educators to use immediately, even though the requirements in the bill won’t take effect until the following school year.

In developing tools for implementation of media literacy units into existing core subject areas, Media Education Lab member Michael Spikes from Northwestern University and Assistant Director of the lab Yonty Friesem from Columbia College Chicago are leading the effort and looking for media educators in Illinois to provide their expertise.

If you live in Illinois and would like to join the effort, please contact Dr. Yonty Friesem yfriesem@colum.edu