Democrat lawmakers in Colorado are proposing legislation that would seek to teach school children how to differentiate between fake and credible media sources.
“Whenever somebody starts off a sentence with ‘I read somewhere that this happened’, you think, wait a minute,” State Rep. Barbara McLachlan said, according to the local CBS affiliate in Denver. “I think we all need to be a little distrustful about where people are getting their information.”
McLachlan, a former teacher, and colleague State Rep. Lisa Cutter, say lawmakers need to help school children identify fake news and disinformation, since many have access to Facebook, Twitter, and other sites where information is not always accurate.
According to CBS, McLachlan and Cutter observed a Stanford University study that found 82 percent of middle school students are unable to differentiate between an online ad and a news story.
“We don’t want to teach kids what to think,” Cutter said, elaborating:
We’re not taking a stand that one side is right and another is wrong, or one outlet is good and one outlet is bad. We just want to give them the tools so they can figure it out and understand what makes a credible source and then they can form their own opinions about that information.
The bill would establish an online bank of media resources in the Colorado Department of Education from which teachers can learn how to build media literacy into their curriculum.
McLachlan said the goal is to incorporate media literacy into every subject area.
“So it’s not like everybody stops and says okay now we’re going to do a unit on media literacy,” she said. “It’s every time you do a research paper, every time you’re having a discussion in class and you’re referring to an article or something on TV, that’s’ where media literacy will be taught.”
“There’s outside entities that are trying to sow distrust in public health, in vaccines,” Cutter said. “They’ve traced some of that to China, Russia with election meddling. So I absolutely, firmly believe this will lead to a healthier democracy and society.”
Common Core champion education nonprofit West Ed prepared the report to advise the Colorado Media Literacy Advisory Committee on how to incorporate media literacy education into the state’s Reading, Writing, and Civics standards.