A media literacy bill was voted through committee in the Massachusetts state legislature on March 6.
The bill, “An Act Concerning Media Literacy in School,” would require Massachusetts public schools to teach media literacy to their students at some time between K-12 grade. It was helped through committee by testimony from a group of Andover teens.
Seniors Sophie Draper, Emily Granoff, Madison Hines, Cole Organicsek, and Jack Cox, past students of Andover High’s Democracy and Media Literacy class, all spoke in front of numerous state legislators in November. They spoke about their experiences in the class, which is designed to teach students about media literacy and how to become better-informed citizens. They also answered a range of questions about class curriculum and usefulness of the class in everyday life.
Their media literacy teacher, Ms. Robb, who went with them to the State House, described how the experience was a bit nerve racking. They had to wait about two hours before they would be seen by a committee who they were told would report back to the full House and Senate. One of Robb’s most fulfilling moments of the day was when she was listening to the testimony and she heard one of the students say to the committee, “Because of this class, I am a better informed voter, and I hold your future in my hands.”
Some months after the group’s testimony, the bill was redrafted into bill S2027 so it could be voted on by the state’s legislators. Madison Hines, one of the students who testified, said she hopes the bill will pass because she feels it is important for people to be well versed in the different stances of political parties and to be able to form their own opinions.
The students’ strong speeches and hard work were complemented by the president of Media Literacy Now, Erin McNeill, whose foundation is one of the leading advocates for media literacy education across the Northeast. This group is the main supporter of the bill, according to Robb.
By Hayes Linzer