I’m very excited about the recent vote of the Los Angeles school board. Last week, the board decided that schools would begin teaching media literacy in grades 1 through 12 beginning next school year. They have called on the superintendent to develop a plan, and for the plan to consider in which subject areas media literacy will be included, and for how much time. They plan will also consider how professional development will get to the teachers. And here’s a really intriguing part of the resolution: The board is engaging students by calling for a campaign of 12th graders with their teachers to discuss and then submit ideas and best practices for media literacy instruction.
–Erin McNeill, founder, MLN
School Board Approves Critical Media Literacy Resolution
CONTACT: Shannon Haber, 213-393-1289
LOS ANGELES (March 9, 2021) – The Board of Education unanimously passed today a resolution to help students learn to determine fact from fiction in an environment when many depend solely on social media or one-sided sources for information. Critical Media Literacy instruction would begin with the 2021-21 school year.
“Bombarded by misinformation posing as fact on social media, television, radio and in publications,” Board Member Jackie Goldberg, who sponsored the resolution, said, “our students need to use their critical thinking skills to determine what to believe.”
“The Internet is an undeniably powerful tool for our students, but it is also one that must be used responsibly,” Board President Kelly Gonez said. “Now more than ever, it’s important that students be equipped with the tools and skills to recognize biased depictions and distorted narratives in order to become more informed and active participants in our communities.”
“Learning how to critically evaluate the validity of information has become an even more important skill because too often those we believe we can trust treat lies as truth,” Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III said. “Also, sources of information have grown exponentially because of social media, cable TV with its hundreds of choices and publications that spread unverified information.”
“Our students are surrounded by the need to be critical thinkers and digitally literate,” Board Member Mónica García said. “I support transforming education to empower each learner!”
“In light of recent and evolving and contentious political developments in our nation and misinformation spread by news outlets, social media platforms, and even local electoral campaigns, now more than ever our students need to be educated so they can differentiate fact from fiction,” Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson, a co-sponsor, said. “Given our current distance learning model, our students rely heavily on the Internet to complete their schoolwork so digital citizenship and media literacy is more important than ever. I applaud Ms. Goldberg for allowing the Division of Instruction to explore a curriculum that will provide strategies to incorporate critical thinking, an anti-bias perspective and best practices to successfully implement a Critical Media Literacy campaign.”
“In this moment when we can’t gather or connect in the in-person ways we’re used to, our kids are spending more of their days online,” Board Member Nick Melvoin, a co-sponsor, said. “At the same time, we are seeing misinformation and disinformation being spread at unprecedented levels on the Internet. It is imperative that we prepare our kids to navigate this new world with a keen and discerning eye when it comes to the perils of fake news.”
“In an increasingly digital world, it is critical that our scholars are able to identify and distinguish the rhetorical devices that illuminate and influence the information we consume,” Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin said. “As a former middle school teacher, I’m proud to support the implementation of a Critical Media Literacy instructional program for all of our scholars, especially as students gain more access and independence over their learning.”