New Report Details State-by-State Status for Media Literacy Education Laws in K-12 Schools
Despite Growing Bipartisan Support, Only 14 States Making Meaningful Advancement
BOSTON, January 6, 2020 – Non-profit advocacy organization Media Literacy Now (MLN) has today released the findings of the U.S. Media Literacy Policy Report 2020, the first state-by-state status report for media literacy education laws in K-12 schools. Media literacy education policy has become an urgent priority in the backdrop of research showing that U.S. students are not learning the basic skills needed to discern the quality of information they find online or to responsibly share and create content.
A nonpartisan effort, the U.S Media Literacy Report 2020 concludes that only 14 states have taken substantial legislative action for media literacy education. Ohio and Florida were revealed to have the strongest media literacy education policies for K-12 curriculum.
“Florida is proud to be an early leader in media literacy education and in modernizing our department of education frameworks and curriculum,” said Florida State Senator Kelli Stargel (R-District 22). “Children are adept at using technology, but that does not mean that they fully understand how to judge trustworthiness online, how to make choices about sharing on social media or the ethics of their decisions. Florida’s children are benefitting immensely from the priority we have placed on media literacy.”
The mission of MLN is to drive policy change at the state and national level to ensure all K-12 students receive comprehensive media literacy education and skills. MLN completed this preliminary survey of all state laws at the end of 2019 to compare states’ progress and instill a sense of urgency for media literacy education. Overall, the following states were found to have some level of statutory requirement in place:
- Advanced Leader: Florida, Ohio
- Strong Leader: Texas
- Progressing Leader: Washington, New Mexico
- Emerging Leader: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Utah
“While it’s encouraging that 14 states are now on their way to including media literacy curriculum in their K-12 schools, only two have highlighted media literacy in their laws as an essential skill,” said Massachusetts State Representative David Rogers (D). Representative Rogers was an early advocate and an original sponsor of the Massachusetts bill, resulting in the formation of MLN. “As we enter 2020, I hope this report inspires and empowers legislators in the remaining, unranked states to make media literacy a priority.”
It’s important to note that while sound legislation is a vital starting point, statutory language is not the final step in the journey of media literacy. Implementation in each state is key and has not been evaluated for this report. More research is needed to determine how the laws are taking effect – or not taking effect – at the state administrative and school district level.
“Teaching media literacy is critical as we seek to prepare learners to thrive in the world,” added Dr. Jon Mundorf, 8th Grade English Language Arts (ELA) Teacher and University School Assistant Professor at the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School in Gainsville, Florida. “Our classroom-based research has been underway for almost four school years. It has evolved to move beyond teaching media literacy skills to supporting students as they develop a research identity rooted in skepticism, curiosity, and persistence.”
“There has been an overdue realization among legislators and the general population that most youth – and frankly many adults – lack the skills to decode media messages, to recognize where those messages come from, and to understand how they are shaping our world,” said Erin McNeill, president and founder of Media Literacy Now. “We are encouraged to see the progress made by the 14 leading states, but we still have a lot of work to do. Despite some very good laws, there is evidence that curriculum is still not making its way into most classrooms. Today we are calling on state lawmakers to elevate media literacy as a priority in K-12 schools by updating policy, and just as important, to use their oversight authority to ensure implementation. MLN will work with every state policymaker and activist who wants to support media literacy and better prepare our young people for the future.”
Data for this report was collected and analyzed by MLN in 2019 based on public information on legislative efforts. For the purposes of this report, MLN reviewed state laws only and included laws that use the terms “media literacy” or “digital citizenship.”
About Media Literacy Now (MLN)
Media Literacy Now supports, empowers and connects activists and communities across the country who are advocating for media literacy in their local schools; provides crucial policy and advocacy expertise and resources toward modernizing state-level education policy; and raises public awareness of media literacy as an essential life skill for health, well-being, and economic and civic participation. For more information, visit https://medialiteracynow.org/.
For further information, please contact: