By Jaclyn Siegel, MLN New York chapter leader 

photo of jaclyn siegel
“To be democracy ready, students must be media literate.”

Last month, the DemocracyReady NY Coalition released its report, Developing Digital Citizens: Media Literacy Education for All Students. The report lays out a framework to guide policymakers in ensuring every school in New York State is equipped to help students meet media literacy standards. The nonpartisan statewide coalition, which works collectively to advance students’ civic preparation, presents a series of recommendations designed to bring media literacy education (MLE) to all school districts, particularly under-resourced districts that predominantly serve students of color and students in poverty. 

The report recommends:

  • All schools be staffed with school library media specialists, whose licensing requires extensive media literacy training.
  • All districts be required to provide access to professional development for teachers around media literacy.
  • The New York Board of Regents consider adding a dedicated one-semester course in media literacy for all ninth-graders as part of its review of graduation requirements.
  • The state education department conduct a detailed survey to learn the current state of media literacy education and media literacy education resources in all schools.

DemocracyReady NY provides detailed recommendations  to guide  state education officials in following a  five-part MLE framework: 

  1. Clear state standards for media literacy,
  2. Qualified personnel for teaching media literacy, 
  3. Suitable MLE curricula and course offerings, 
  4. Up-to-date facilities, instructional materials, and technology, 
  5. Transparent monitoring and reporting of MLE resources and results

Teachers College’s Center of Educational Equity (CEE) policy director Jessica Wolff co-authored the report with CEE executive director Michael Rebell and TC doctoral student Ann LoBue.

As the NYS chapter leader for MLN, I provided feedback from the perspective of a media literacy educator and advocate, in conjunction with Assemblyperson Linda Rosenthal who had introduced media literacy legislation (A00106) during the 2019-2020 legislative session. We hope that this report will encourage our legislators to take action on implementing media literacy education within our schools.

While the report was prepared well in advance of the coronavirus pandemic and designed to be implemented in the context of traditional, in-classroom schooling, many of its recommendations are easily adaptable to a remote learning environment. If anything, “the current crisis underscores the importance of media literacy and the urgency of effective media literacy education,” said CEE policy director Jessica Wolff.