Quashing fake news with media literacy

In a continued effort to address the flood of misinformation now ubiquitously called “fake news,” the Senate Education Committee heard two efforts to create digital media literacy curriculum in California schools-to teach students how to be critical consumers of news.

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D- Santa Barbara) presented SB 947, a measure which seeks to promote “thoughtful, safe, and strategic uses of online and other media resources and education on how to apply critical thinking skills when consuming and producing media in any form.” The bill would create an advisory committee that would develop best practices related to “digital citizenship” and internet safety policies. The measure seeks to address a wide range of online issues including “cyber bullying, sexting, privacy, digital footprints, and ‘fake news.’”

The bill passed out of committee on a 4-2 vote with Republicans voting “no.”

SB 830 is a similar measure authored by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Davis), which also passed out of committee on a 4-2 party line vote. Senator Dodd’s bill would require the state’s Instructional Quality Commission to develop and adopt a curriculum “designed for the purpose of providing instruction in the safe and responsible use of media and supporting pupils’ use of critical thinking skills when consuming media.”

CNPA testified in support of both measures which seek to teach and improve critical thinking skills and help students better identify the differences between true news stories, sponsored content, advertising, and false information.

The bills will face scrutiny next from the Senate Appropriations Committee. Both senators authored similar bills last year, which died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee due to costs. Due to the cost concerns, Senator Dodd testified that he is seeking private funding to help subsidize the costs of creating a new curriculum.