Bring media education to the masses and to the State House


As partisanship continues to create a deep ideological chasm in the United States, an informed population may be the only way to bridge the divides. According to the politically neutral nonprofit Media Literacy Now (MLN), the idea of ​​media literacy is crucial given that “… children live in a 24/7 powerful media world. 7 …[along with] a drastic increase in the time children and young people spend with the media over the past decade. According to the Fundamentals of Media Literacy, “the goal of media literacy is to help individuals of all ages develop the research habits and expressive skills they need to be thinkers. critics, effective communicators and active citizens in today’s world. “

Jaclyn Kahn Siegel of Hicksville is the New York MLN Chapter Leader and, as a teacher at a private school, sees how crucial it is to teach students how to navigate the messages that bombard them through a prism. critical thinking and evaluation.
“Media literacy can help anyone, but especially students, analyze and determine what media resources they read and what information comes out of them,” said Kahn Siegel. “And to be able to tell if it’s correct, biased, misinformation or 100 percent completely wrong like Onion. It is also about accessing the media, analyzing it and creating it. An organization like the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) has been [talking about understanding the effects of the media] since 1997, but I feel like a lot of people are more aware of it since 2016 because this presidential election sparked all this need for media education and the realization that a lot of people are promoting [media literacy] During a very long time.”

Founded in 2013 by Erin McNeill, MLN built on McNeill’s landmark success in introducing a bill to introduce media literacy to Massachusetts schools in March 2011. Since then, MLN has opened chapters in two dozen states while leading a grassroots movement to create a public education system that ensures all students acquire the 21st century literacy skills they need for health, wellness, economic participation and citizenship. Kahn Siegel came to MLN through NAMLE, “… a trade association for educators, academics, activists, and students with a passion for helping individuals of all ages develop inquiry habits and skills for research. expression they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens in today’s world.

An important cornerstone of media education is resuscitating the importance of teaching civics. Kahn Siegel admits that this can be a potentially delicate issue in these divided times.
“From what I understand, civic education is what citizens or anyone living in the country should know: their rights and obligations to society,” she said. “This includes the political aspect and I think that at the moment there are such supporters [leanings] that if you do bring up a subject, will it trigger red flags when you talk about certain issues? But it is also about getting students not only to learn things, but also to make them active citizens.

From a legislative perspective, codifying how media education is taught in school districts is what is currently being discussed in Albany. Here is a trio of bills introduced by Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal (D / WF-Manhattan) and co-sponsored by a number of her fellow Democrats. At the time of going to press, no Republican had signed on as a co-sponsor.

Directs the Education Commissioner to appoint a Media Education Advisory Group to identify best practices and recommend appropriate policies at state and district level; forces this group to survey all school districts to see if media literacy is already taught

Requires teachers and library media specialists to complete professional development related to media education

Requires a school library media specialist in each elementary, middle, middle, high and high school

Currently, there are three media literacy bills pending in the New York State Assembly presented by Linda B. Rosenthal (D / WF-Manhattan) intended “for all students to l New York State gain better media literacy with the help of teachers and school library media. specialists; to empower and educate young people with the tools and resources they need to participate as thoughtful and productive members of society. Among the proposals is ensuring that each school has a library media specialist on staff. All teachers and library media specialists would be required to complete media literacy training. The third piece of legislation focuses on investigating schools to see whether media literacy is taught and to what extent it may or may not be successful.

Jaclyn Kahn Siegel, originally from Hicksville, is the New York section manager of Media Literacy Now
(Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Kahn Siegel)

Right now, there is no Republican cosponsor behind an issue that is essentially apolitical, which Kahn Siegel is quick to point out.
“I think one of the thoughts that went into this and that you have to be very careful about is that [media literacy] is absolutely meant to be non-partisan, ”she said. “Because it’s just about getting our students to learn and making sure there are people in the building who can teach this important instruction. It is also about making sure that they are still learning, because with educators, it is not over. You went to school and that’s it. I think it’s about having more educators in the building, which in my opinion is not a bad thing. And then have them educate themselves so that they can teach the children. “

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