Last week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) signed a first-of-its-kind bill into law requiring all K-12 students to receive an education in “media literacy,” which the governor argued would allow children to identify so-called “misinformation.”
“I am proud to sign a first-in-the-nation, bipartisan law to equip NJ students with tools to identify fact from fiction,” Murphy tweeted. “K-12 media literacy education will empower future leaders to accurately assess information — essential in preserving our democracy in a time of disinformation.”
The state’s Senate Bill 588 updates the New Jersey Student Learning Standards to include “information literacy” curriculum.
According to the bill, K-12 students will be taught about the research process and how to conduct “critical thinking.” In addition, the new curriculum will educate children about primary and secondary sources and the difference between “facts, points of view, and opinions.”
Students will also receive instruction on “the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information” and “the ethical production of information.”
The commissioner of the Department of Education will put together a committee of teachers and certified school library media specialists to develop information literacy standards. The standards will then be reviewed by “experts.”
The legislation stated that the state board plans to hold hearings where the public will be permitted to comment on the curriculum.
“Our democracy remains under sustained attack through the proliferation of disinformation that is eroding the role of truth in our political and civic discourse,” Murphy stated. “It is our responsibility to ensure our nation’s future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction. I am proud to sign legislation that is critical to the success of New Jersey’s students and essential to the preservation of our democracy.”
Fellow Democrats voiced support for the legislation, including state Senator Shirley Turner, who stated that the bill will “equip the next generation with the tools they need to spot deceptive sites and become savvy consumers of media.”
“This signing feels especially timely as we approach the two-year anniversary of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. It is incredibly important that our children are taught how to discern reliable sources and recognize false information,” said Turner.
The legislation has some parents and critics concerned that news organizations with certain political leanings will be labeled more trustworthy than others, ultimately leading to indoctrination.
Ashley Jacobs, co-founder of Parents Unite, an organization committed to ensuring that schools promote diversity of thought, told Fox News Digital that New Jersey’s new law admits students have not been taught to think critically.
“How will standards be developed? How will students be assessed? How will students be taught to search for objective truth? Whose truth is the truth? Sadly ‘disinformation’ has come to be defined as ‘things people don’t agree with,’” Jacobs stated.
The latest legislation is a part of Murphy’s ongoing effort to combat so-called “disinformation.” The governor’s administration launched a “disinformation portal” in April 2022.
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