(The Center Square) – A new California law mandates that K-12 students learn “media literacy” in math, science, history and social science curriculums, leading some experts to warn of possible bias and risks to free speech.
Under AB 873, which goes into effect January 1, 2024, the Instructional Quality Commission will be required to consider “media literacy content into the mathematics, science, and history-social science curriculum frameworks” when they are next revised.
“Misinformation and disinformation on the internet intensify political polarization, threaten public health, and undermine faith in democratic institutions. As kids spend more time online and get the majority of their news from social media, they need to be equipped to detect, analyze, and evaluate negative or false media messages,” wrote bill author Assemblymember Marc Berman, D–Menlo Park. “The bill follows the lead of a number of other states in integrating media literacy curriculum content into the core subjects so that all students receive this critically important and timely instruction.”
Critics, however, say that this bill adds unnecessary complexity to classroom education at a time when the majority of students don’t meet state standards for any subjects and impose a progressive bias upon media literacy.
“This will only confuse students by displacing time that should be spent on academics to issues of opinion and politics,” said California Policy Center Vice President of Government Affairs Lance Christensen in an interview with The Center Square. “Any standard that the commission comes up with will be based upon legacy media, which is traditionally dominated by the left.”
Christensen also stated that the bill relies on slow-moving framework changes that will struggle to keep up with a changing media environment.
“We have seen how fast the media has changed in the last few years and social media dominates most of what young people consume. There’s simply no way for a standard to accommodate the rapid change across all these platforms, especially with recent developments in AI.”
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, teens are online for almost nine hours per day, excluding time spent on homework.