Lawmakers propose $60M for teaching students as young as kindergarten to evaluate the media

Democratic lawmakers are proposing spending $60 million over five years to teach students as young as kindergarteners how to evaluate the media.

Democratic Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin introduced the “Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act” in the House last week.

“People in the United States rely on information from mass media, social media and digital media to make decisions about all aspects of social, economic and political life … Ensuring that people in the United States possess the skills to make these informed decisions based on media begins early in life,” the House version reads.

“Learning to critically analyze and create media is a lifelong process,” the bill says.

Right now, the bill is cosponsored by six members of Congress, including Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger and New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill. They’re among several freshman representatives with military and national security backgrounds who banded together to form Task Force Sentry, a group that aims to prevent foreign election interference.

The bill cites Russian, Chinese and Iranian attempts to spread disinformation to disrupt to democracies like the U.S. as evidence that children as young as 5 need media literacy education.

The bill charges the Secretary of Education with overseeing the program, which would give grants to state media literacy advisory councils to work with local education agencies on developing curricula, training teachers and evaluating “student learning in media literacy.”

It would give the Department of Education $20 million to spend on grants in fiscal years 2020, 2022 and 2024. Fiscal year 2020 began Oct. 1.

Slotkin was not available to comment on her bill in time for publication.

Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is running for president, introduced an equivalent bill in the Republican-controlled Senate in the summer.

“Adversaries are targeting our democracy with sophisticated information campaigns designed to divide Americans and undermine our political system. One of the best ways we can fight back is to give people the tools they need to identify these disinformation campaigns and that begins with educating students,” Klobuchar said in a statement in July.