Lawmakers passed a bill requiring the teaching of black history last year. Today, a similar bill aims to do the same for media literacy.
Misinformation and lies spread through social media and the rest of the internet have increasingly become a problem across the country, especially when such misinformation seeks to disrupt the democratic process.
State Senator Sarah McBride (D-Claymont) offers a proposal designed to better prepare Delaware children for a digital world. It was passed by the state Senate last week.
McBride says his legislation addresses concerns that Delaware children are unprepared for an increasingly digital world.
“While our image of young people is often that of digital natives seamlessly navigating the internet with an understanding that eludes many of us,” McBride said. “The reality is that studies show that young people, just as much as adults, struggle to be savvy consumers of online information.”
McBride points to a 2019 study from Stanford University, which shows that 96% of high school students lacked the basic skills to discern the trustworthiness of online news sources.
The bill aims to create media literacy standards for Delaware schools, similar to the Black History Curriculum Bill signed into law last year.
State Sen. Laura Sturgeon (D-Hockessin) was a teacher for 25 years and worked with McBride to define what the standards should cover.
“She has really crafted an incredible bill that covers all aspects of digital citizenship – from the ability to discern misinformation, to understand sources and what is reliable, to the more personal and social aspects of digital citizenship. “, said Sturgeon.
Senate Republicans have voiced their opposition to the bill, with State Sen. Bryant Richardson (R-Seaford) raising concerns about how biases and viewpoints are incorporated into the program.
McBride says the ministry will not be responsible for developing the curriculum, but rather setting a wide range of standards that individual schools will use to create their own lesson plans.
The bill passed along party lines and is heading to the House.
Roman Battaglia is a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.