SEVERE WX : Severe Thunderstorm Watch - Severe Thunderstorm Warning View Alerts

Efforts grow to help students evaluate what they see online

KIMT

Several more states are expected to consider such bills in the coming year.

Posted: Dec 31, 2017 9:51 AM

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Alarmed by the proliferation of false content online, state lawmakers around the country are pushing schools to put more emphasis on teaching students how to tell fact from fiction.

Lawmakers in several states have introduced or passed bills calling on public school systems to do more to teach media literacy skills that they say are critical to democracy. The effort has been bipartisan but has received little attention despite successful legislation in Washington state, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Mexico.

Several more states are expected to consider such bills in the coming year, including Arizona, New York and Hawaii.

"I don't think it's a partisan issue to appreciate the importance of good information and the teaching of tools for navigating the information environment," said Hans Zeiger, a Republican state senator in Washington who co-sponsored a bill that passed in his state earlier this year. "There is such a thing as an objective source versus other kinds of sources, and that's an appropriate thing for schools to be teaching."

Advocates say the K-12 curriculum has not kept pace with rapid changes in technology. Studies show many children spend hours every day online but struggle to comprehend the content that comes at them.

For years, they have pushed schools to incorporate media literacy — including the ability to evaluate and analyze sources of information — into lesson plans in civics, language arts, science and other subjects.

Their efforts started getting traction after the 2016 presidential election, which highlighted how even many adults can be fooled by false and misleading content peddled by agenda-driven domestic and foreign sources.

"Five years ago, it was difficult to get people to understand what we were doing and what we wanted to see happen in education and the skills students needed to learn," said Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, executive director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education. "Now there is no question about the vitalness of this in classrooms."

A study published last year by Stanford University researchers also brought the issue into focus. It warned that students from middle school to college were "easily duped" and ill-equipped to use reason with online information.

The researchers warned that "democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish."

In June, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill establishing an advisory council to develop recommendations that will include instructing students on evaluating what they see and read online.

Jennifer Rocca, a high school librarian in Brookfield, Connecticut, was among several supporters who urged lawmakers to pass the legislation.

Her digital literacy course, a requirement for freshmen, challenges students to evaluate the credibility of online sources so they can spot falsehoods and biased information. She requires students to cite their sources when conducting research and explain why each would have the authority to be credible.

Without stronger statewide standards, Rocca said she worries that some school districts will not do enough to develop skills that are critical for students and society.

"You should be expected to navigate the internet and evaluate the information no matter where you go to school," she said.

Many of the state bills are based on model legislation backed by a coalition of groups, including Media Literacy Now and the Digital Citizenship Institute. Advocates say the laws are a good first step that must be paired with updates to teacher education programs, funding for professional development and other changes throughout the education system.

The efforts have run into concerns about school funding shortfalls, and supporters say they are mindful of adding mandates on districts and teachers. That's why the laws have so far stopped short of dictating changes and instead called for voluntary actions.

New Mexico Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said media literacy is an elective in the state's secondary schools curriculum — unlike financial literacy, which is required. He said he would like to see that changed in coming years and "intertwined throughout the entire curriculum regardless of what you are teaching."

Last summer, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed two bills calling on state education officials to work with media literacy organizations to consider incorporating the subject into the basic education program.

The new law in Washington requires the state school superintendent to create a website with links to successful media literacy practices. The office also must conduct a survey to understand how librarians, teachers, principals and technology directors are integrating those subjects into their curriculum.

Supporters are helping lawmakers in several states draft similar bills to be introduced in 2018.

"The combination of social media and misinformation really captured people's awareness and attention in the last year," said Erin McNeill, president of Media Literacy Now, a nonprofit based in Watertown, Massachusetts. "It took a long time to get media literacy into the public consciousness."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 26273

Reported Deaths: 1126
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8867641
Ramsey3252140
Stearns205014
Nobles15625
Anoka148878
Dakota141464
Washington68034
Olmsted67211
Kandiyohi5111
Rice4833
Scott4602
Clay44129
Mower4062
Wright3392
Todd3361
Sherburne2482
Carver2322
Benton1823
Steele1670
Blue Earth1480
Freeborn1420
Martin1325
St. Louis11814
Pine930
Nicollet8811
Lyon811
Winona8015
Cottonwood790
Watonwan780
Crow Wing774
Unassigned7511
Carlton750
Otter Tail730
Goodhue715
Chisago641
Polk612
Itasca5610
Dodge530
Chippewa521
Morrison480
Le Sueur461
Meeker460
Douglas450
Becker430
Jackson420
Murray400
McLeod390
Isanti360
Waseca270
Pennington230
Rock230
Mille Lacs231
Faribault200
Swift190
Beltrami180
Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Brown162
Norman150
Pipestone120
Marshall120
Kanabec121
Wilkin113
Cass112
Aitkin110
Wadena100
Pope100
Koochiching90
Big Stone80
Redwood70
Renville70
Mahnomen61
Lincoln60
Yellow Medicine60
Grant40
Traverse40
Red Lake40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Roseau30
Hubbard30
Houston20
Kittson10
Lake10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 20767

Reported Deaths: 583
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4541137
Woodbury283737
Black Hawk177548
Buena Vista9971
Linn97179
Dallas94025
Marshall91218
Wapello62814
Johnson6189
Muscatine56541
Crawford5472
Tama41029
Scott38010
Dubuque35521
Louisa34911
Pottawattamie31110
Sioux2980
Jasper26917
Wright2120
Washington1958
Warren1661
Plymouth1462
Story1261
Allamakee1204
Mahaska9912
Poweshiek928
Henry722
Bremer706
Boone700
Des Moines671
Clarke660
Clinton651
Taylor640
Webster621
Hamilton610
Guthrie543
Cedar491
Benton431
Monroe415
Shelby370
Cherokee370
Jones370
Jefferson350
Marion350
Osceola340
Clayton343
Cerro Gordo331
Iowa330
Dickinson330
Buchanan330
Madison292
Lee290
Fayette280
Sac280
Davis280
Harrison260
Monona250
Clay250
Lyon240
Winneshiek240
Emmet240
Lucas222
Hardin210
Grundy200
Mills200
Delaware191
Humboldt191
Floyd191
Franklin170
Appanoose173
Hancock160
Butler161
Ida150
Greene150
Pocahontas150
Page140
Kossuth140
Keokuk140
Audubon131
Jackson130
Carroll130
Chickasaw130
Howard120
Cass120
Winnebago110
Montgomery91
Adair90
Union90
Van Buren90
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Calhoun60
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Fremont40
Worth30
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned00
Rochester
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 68°
Mason City
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Albert Lea
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
Charles City
Broken Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 68°
Another round of severe weather tonight
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Covid-19 Cases on the Rise

Image

Becoming a better ally

Image

Giving your best

Image

Coronavirus attacking your blood vessels?

Image

Young Protester's impact on police reform

Image

How important are school resource officers?

Image

bri first at 4

Image

Graffiti on Rochester trail

Image

Expedited breast cancer treatment

Image

Stock market makes a comeback

Community Events