Teacher support for media literacy proposed

Alexandria Osborne

WNPA News Service

A public-school grant program to help students evaluate news reports would be established if a bill passed by the state Senate makes its way through the House of Representatives.

The amount of the grant program awarded to teachers and school districts proposed in Substitute Senate Bill 5626 by Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, is unspecified. Funding would be subject to the final budget approved later in this year’s legislative session for the 2003-2005 biennium.

The bill passed the Senate 44-4.

Jen Ligot, Washington State Council for Social Studies board member, works with school-aged children every day on media related issues as a teacher and the mom of a middle schooler.

“They really need to know that their news does not come from their social media accounts, it comes through their social media accounts, and how to research and dig a little deeper and find out where their news actually comes from,” she said.

In 2021, legislation was passed requiring the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to begin planning a similar grant program supporting media literacy and digital citizenship throughout school district leadership teams.

The program would run in a two-year cycle, with criteria for program participation established by the OSPI.

During the first year, the program would be required to support the group of teachers in analyzing how the full range of media literacy skills fall in the current state learning standards.

During the second year, the program would support the group of teachers in training media literacy within their subject areas.

Liias said Washington was the first state to adopt a vision for media literacy and digital citizenship.

“We are now seeing, I think, the development and blooming of what that means as a strategy,” he said.

Librarians are typically at the heart of the work done for media literacy and digital citizenship, he said, but a lot of schools do not have a full-time librarian on staff, so there is a value in having teachers trained in these skills where there is not a librarian available to provide the education, he said.

“This can be really valuable to embed across the curriculum,” Liias said. “Eventually, we’ll reach a place for every teacher in every classroom, to the extent that they have time and energy and desire to integrate this, would find resources to do it.”