Senate Education Committee approves media literacy, sexual assault reporting proposals


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A plan moving through Springfield could require Illinois public schools to teach kids skills to identify misinformation.

Democrats say public schools should prepare young people to exercise their civic responsibilities by offering media literacy curriculum.

Sen. Karina Villa says the internet has become a place for students to debate and discuss social issues and politics. However, she believes they’re also vulnerable to persecution and misinformation.

Villa’s proposal would include media literacy during the required year-long computer literacy courses. Republicans worried how schools will teach the difference between “fake news” and real media.

“When we were younger and go to the library, we knew what was in the fiction section and what was in the nonfiction section,” Villa said. “There’s clearly defined regulations, ways to define that, by folks who are in the education system.”

The West Chicago Democrat explained teacher opinions wouldn’t be used in this situation. In fact, individual school districts could decide the curriculum.

“So the district decided that Anderson Cooper, just using that as an example, is a liar. They can basically say that Anderson Cooper says is fake news,” asked Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro).

Villa later said the unit would only help students verify information in news articles and make their own judgments.

Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas said her daughter could benefit from this change. She explained her second-grader can now look at information online and evaluate if it comes from a verified source or not.

House Bill 234 passed out of the Senate Education Committee on an 11-2 vote. It now heads to the Senate floor for consideration. Representatives approved the proposal on a 68-44 vote last month.

Reporting school sexual assaults

Illinois schools may also soon be required to release the number of sexual assaults occurring in schools. Senate Bill 633 could make a new column of the school report card to list the number of sexual assaults without violating confidentiality.

The report would include the number of incidents on school grounds or during school-related activities that led to suspension, expulsion, or other forms of removal. If approved by both chambers, the reporting would start at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year.

Sen. Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) also worked with stakeholders to address how schools in smaller districts could fulfill this requirement.

“In a smaller community where it might only be one incident might have occurred, you wouldn’t be able to protect the confidentiality of that person. So, we’re going to list less than 10,” Murphy explained.

Republicans thanked Murphy for working with stakeholders to address the confidentiality issue for smaller communities downstate. The bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee unanimously and moves to the Senate floor.

The post Senate Education Committee approves media literacy, sexual assault reporting proposals appeared first on WEEK.


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