A bill that elevates media literacy within new civics requirements passed by both House and Senate and is now embedded within the History and Social Science Curriculum Framework

In Massachusetts, both chambers have passed legislation that would require all public schools to teach civics, “to prepare students, morally and intellectually, for the duties of citizenship.” Both bills include certain requirements within the civics education program for all districts, including the development of media literacy skills to “access, analyze and evaluate media as it relates to history and civics.”

This would make the state the first to institute civics standards that require a media literacy component.

This legislation would be a big step forward in the way it elevates media literacy as a key component of education that prepares students to be citizens.

The conference committee will iron out differences between the two bills and expects to bring the final bill to the floor of both houses by the end of the session, which comes at the end of July. We are strongly supportive of the legislation and hope to see it pass so that media literacy will be codified as a key component of an essential k-12 school subject.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has approved a revised Curriculum Frameworks for History and Social Sciences that include a groundbreaking emphasis on Media Literacy standards as a result, in part, of MLN advocacy.

For the first time, media literacy is a “guiding principal” within the framework:

Guiding Principle 8
An effective history and social science curriculum incorporates the study of current events and news/media literacy. When teaching history and social science, teachers have a unique responsibility to help students consider events – including current events – in a broad historical, geographical, social, or economic context. The Framework’s News/Media Literacy standards for grade 8 and high school are designed to help students take a critical stance toward what they read, hear, and view in newspapers and on websites, television, and social media. Applying these standards, students learn to evaluate information, question and verify its source, distinguish fact from inference, and reasoned judgment supported by evidence from varying degrees of bias.


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