Media literacy bill runs into trouble again with GOP lawmakers | News


On Thursday, the Colorado House had just a few bills to debate at second reading, but the morning was devoted to just one: Bill 21-1103, intended to implement the recommendations of a 2019 media literacy report.

The bill succeeds Bill 19-1110, which required the Colorado Department of Education to convene a committee to make recommendations on a media literacy program that would be part of civic education during the next update of these standards. It happens to be happening this year, under a bill (SB 21-067) now headed to the House.

In 2019, Republicans opposed adding more to the elementary and secondary curriculum as well as who would sit on this media literacy panel, complaining that the report would be skewed by the appointment of teachers and other union staff. “Fox [would be] barn manager,” according to Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park. “To get the people who produce what we should be skeptical of to advise how it should be taught, [makes it] ripe for prejudice and defeats the purpose.”

The House GOP’s objections to the 2021 bill have focused on alleged bias and lack of community engagement.

Rep. Tim Geitner, R-Falcon, said what kids need to learn is critical thinking, not media literacy. He also had concerns about a resource bank listed in the bill, which he said could include material that could be controversial or biased.

Nor is there a process for the public to weigh in on those resources, Geitner said.

Arguing in favor of a Geitner amendment, Rep. Colin Larson, R-Littleton, said most would agree that “we are going through a particularly difficult time in our democracy. There are many passionate opinions on both sides. Something like this is going to come under extra scrutiny,” and the information in the resource bank should be subject to public scrutiny, given that media literacy is likely to evolve with the weather.

Rep. Janice Rich, R-Grand Junction, added that the public, who pay the taxes that run the schools, should be allowed to participate in what goes into the resource bank. There is no guarantee that the Ministry of Education will ensure ideological diversity, she said. “It can’t be one-sided.”

“I’m kind of old school,” R-Colorado Springs Rep. Dave Williams said. “More talk is always better. People can tap into multiple resources from different perspectives and we are all better served. But the list in the report is a static list that educators can draw from, he said, which could make it one-sided. -to balance, or at least allow for adjustments, “I don’t think it’s about media literacy” or that it teaches a specific point of view, he said

Rep. Stephanie Luck, R-Penrose, ruled the bill should be blocked. Reading the bipartisan bill at length wouldn’t delay things much; it’s only four pages.

However, the CDE’s accompanying report is 158 pages, and that’s what she chose to read in the House.

There’s been a bit of a huff about it in caucus.

Luck ran through 24 pages as Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, filed the bill through Friday.

Stay tuned.

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