Bill Update, News

Press Release: New Bill, ESSB 5449, Targets Internet Safety and Media Literacy Education in Washington Schools



Official Press Release

4616 25th Ave NE,
#310, Seattle, WA 98105

April 27, 2017

Michael Danielson, President, Action for Media Education
Email:  |  Phone: (206) 683-7277

New bill targets internet safety and media literacy education in Washington schools

Olympia, WA – Governor Jay Inslee has signed into law a new bill requiring Washington schools to develop a model policy to better support internet safety, digital citizenship and media literacy education. The Governor called this piece of legislation “extremely timely. “  He added, “We’re really excited about this bill.” The bill introduced by Senator Marko Liias, 21st District, Lynnwood comes at an important time of heightened scrutiny of information coming from the media and from government sources.

The new legislation is the outgrowth of work by a statewide advisory committee convened by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The committee was asked to examine best practices and make recommendations about strategies and ideas for integrating digital citizenship and media literacy education into Washington’s classrooms. As a result of this new legislation, a statewide survey of teacher-librarians, principals and school technology directors will be conducted to determine how Washington schools are currently addressing internet safety while also integrating digital citizenship and media literacy education into the curriculum.  In addition, a new website will be established to provide schools throughout the state with information about successful practices that are currently being used to introduce media literacy education throughout the country. The website will also provide teachers with easy access to information and links for curriculum materials and other resources that are currently available for use in their classrooms.

Action for Media Education (AME), the group that first proposed a bill promoting and supporting media literacy education in Washington’s schools, is a Seattle-based non-profit organization that has been advocating for media literacy education for the past 25 years. Michael Danielson, the organization’s president, shares that Washington has become a model for other states in the country with 20 more states currently trying to pass similar legislation.

Media literacy education fosters the application of critical thinking skills when both consuming as well as producing media. Marilyn Cohen, PhD, Director of the Northwest Center for Media Literacy, University of Washington points out, “Phrases like ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ have become so commonplace these days. Requiring students to apply critical thinking skills to the digital world in which they live has never been more important.”

View the official AME press release.