You’ve heard me say it before. Young citizens of Missouri need a new survival skill: media literacy. In today’s media frenzy, we are all overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what we hear on the radio, what we see online, and what we hear from social media.
Unfortunately, much of what we see is opinionated or designed to stir up emotions in an effort to get the most views and shares. This tactic is used to gain our trust, or convince us to join one side or the other. In order to cut through all this noise, young people must learn to decipher what is real and what is not, and how the different media they experience try to persuade them.
The United States Senate is currently considering a bill that could help them acquire these skills.
The Civics Secures Democracy Act, introduced this summer by a bipartisan group of senators led by John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chris Coons, D-Del., would authorize $1 billion a year over the next five years to support the K-12 civic education. and US history.
If passed, it would help ensure that every student in this country has the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills and civic dispositions necessary to become informed and engaged members of our constitutional democracy. It is a landmark bipartisan effort to elevate civics and history as a centerpiece of the American school system alongside literacy and STEM education.
Civics is rooted in acquiring fundamental knowledge about how our system of government works and the roles and responsibilities of every American. But a 21st-century civics education also includes essential skills — such as media literacy, civil discourse and even financial literacy — that really give young people the tools they need to navigate an increasingly social American society. complicated.
The Civics Secures Democracy Act would help strengthen schools as they teach these skills here in the Show-Me State. If the bill passes, Missouri districts will receive $9.8 million in funding over the next five years to advance civics and history education.
I have reviewed the bill and will tell you that I believe the funds that come into our state will be available for us to use as we see fit. The US Department of Education will not tell us how we use the money – it will be up to our own education officials and elected officials.
In January, I plan to reintroduce a new iteration of HB1402, which I presented at the last Missouri House session, to pilot a program in Missouri school districts to build student skills in the ability to assess , analyze, create and participate critically in today’s information. and media, and develop civic virtues such as intellectual curiosity and reasoned reflection. Funds from the Civics Secures Democracy Act could help our schools implement the plan we design.
I am not asking my fellow citizens and our congressional delegation to take my word for it and support the carte blanche bill just because I tell you to. I ask that we all exercise our media literacy skills and look at the bill with our own eyes.
Let’s not take at face value media reports that claim the bill is good or bad. Take a break. Read the bill for yourself. See what he actually says. Assess the sources: are they credible? Can you discern the rotation of the bill from verified information?
Above all, don’t be intimidated by loud voices on the internet or behind closed doors trying to pressure you in some way. Look for facts and decide for yourself.
It is a real civic exercise and a step towards strengthening our democratic republic.
State Representative Jim Murphy, a Republican, represents portions of St. Louis County in the Missouri House. He was elected to his first two-year term in November 2018.