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New Jersey Becomes the First State to Mandate Media Literacy Education for K-12 Students


February 16, 2023

By Christiana Hadjipavlis

NEW YORK— On January 9, 2023, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law the first statewide media literacy requirement for public school curriculum, effective immediately, in the nation. This bipartisan measure will require students at every grade level to be instructed on media literacy to help students recognize misinformation online. The legislation requires the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education to form a committee to assist in creating media literacy standards.

This committee will primarily consist of school library media specialists, along with educators across subject areas, and the new learning standards will be reviewed by experts. The public will also be given the opportunity to voice their opinions on each standard before they are implemented by the NJDOE. Additionally, the bill states that lessons on media literacy must cover, at the very least, the research process, how information is made and produced, critical thinking, and the proper use of information resources. The curriculum must also educate students on different research methods, including the difference between primary and secondary sources, and the difference between facts, points of view, and opinions. Finally, students must be taught how to access peer-reviewed print and digital library resources, economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and the ethics of producing information.

While New Jersey is not the first state in the nation to implement some form of media literacy education, with Illinois having implemented a measure during the 2021-22 school year for high schoolers, New Jersey will be the first to codify a curriculum for students as early as kindergarten. Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, executive director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, stated that “the public and legislators understand what an urgent issue this is, and we no longer feel the need to have to prove it to anyone anymore…People get it. People have seen the real-world consequence of mis- and disinformation” as it pervades American politics and even health protocols.

Director of Media Relations at Teens for Press Freedom, Ifeoma Okwuka, states “ Legislation such as the one recently implemented by the state of New Jersey ensures that students are exposed to skills necessary for becoming knowledgeable and critical media consumers. This serves as an appropriate and ideal response to the alarming infiltration of misinformation and disinformation prominent in today's media. And through mandating instruction on information literacy for K-12 students, we can help to nurture a generation of media-literate youth, thus preserving democratic integrity.”


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