The bill requires the state to create guidelines on media and information literacy for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. (Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office)
New Jersey will soon require students of all ages to be taught research skills, critical thinking, and other methods that can help them spot misinformation online.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday signed a bill that requires the Department of Education to create guidelines on media and information literacy for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
“Our democracy remains under sustained attack through the proliferation of disinformation that is eroding the role of truth in our political and civic discourse,” the governor said in a statement. “It is our responsibility to ensure our nation’s future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction.”
The bipartisan bill requires the state’s education commissioner to empanel a committee that includes library media specialists and educators to draft learning standards that must teach students how to differentiate fact and opinion, use library resources to find scholarly articles, and understand economic, social, and legal factors related to the use of information.
“Teaching children about information literacy will help them to weigh the flood of news, opinion, and social media they are exposed to both online and off,” said Sen. Michael Testa (R-Cumberland), the bill’s prime sponsor. “This law isn’t about teaching kids that any specific idea is true or false, rather it’s about helping them learn how to research, evaluate, and understand the information they are presented for themselves.”
It’s not clear when the information literacy learning standards will be ready for deployment in schools.
Learning standards announced by First Lady Tammy Murphy in June 2020 that required lessons on climate change in science, technology, and social studies classes, among several others, took more than two years to be implemented, though that program suffered delays related to the pandemic.
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