A bill designed to help Colorado students learn how to critically evaluate what they see and hear in today’s digital media landscape has cleared the Colorado General Assembly.
House Bill 1103 will create an online media-literacy resource bank, managed by the Colorado Department of Education, that schools can tap to help kids identify the difference between factual information, misinformation and opinion.
Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, said misinformation and disinformation are growing problems.
“People really do need the skills to look at TV commentaries, the social media posts, and know how to decide whether what they’re seeing has some truth to it or not,” Roberts contended.
House Bill 1103 will implement recommendations from a Media Literacy Advisory Committee report, which concluded students need tools to navigate a media environment where anyone can produce, publish, and share information globally.
Opponents objected to the creation of a state-sanctioned information hub, calling it governmental intrusion on free speech. The bill as amended allows public input on materials that should be added or removed from the bank.
The measure also leaves it up to school districts and charter schools to decide whether to incorporate materials from the resource bank into their curriculums.
Roberts agreed most people would object if the materials were partisan or designed to indoctrinate students in any way.
“But you’re talking about teaching critical thinking,” Roberts observed. “And if it doesn’t turn out to be the case, this all should be reviewed. And I’m sure that parents will be paying close attention.”
The Media Literacy Advisory Committee’s report includes links to lesson plans, videos and activities for elementary, middle and high school teachers.
Legislation passed in 2019 called for the creation of the committee within the Colorado Department of Education. Members appointed by the state education commissioner included media literacy experts, teachers from rural and urban districts, professional journalists, parents, students and a librarian.