Media Literacy

With the recent approval of Assembly Bill 873, Governor Newsom has signaled to the state that teaching students to be critical consumers of media is of the utmost importance to our work as literacy teachers and teacher educators. The new bill requires the CA State Board of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission to integrate media literacy into English language arts/English language development, science, mathematics, and history-social science curriculum frameworks for K-12 when those frameworks are next revised. The passage of Assembly Bill 873 aligns California with other states who have already passed similar legislation and many more who are moving in that direction.

Media are “complex tools whose effects do not always match intentions. Media can promote democratic participation, support social justice, and bring considerable joy, but they can hinder democracy, stoke violence, and manipulate individuals and society” (Critical Media Literacy of the Americas, 2022). The overwhelming amount of mis- and disinformation on the internet and social media requires a critical and keen reader. Children need exposure to practices that help them critically consume texts from  informed, thoughtful and reasoned stances. This is essential for both their safety and their democratic participation  but also, arguably, to call out propaganda and conspiracy theories and  safeguard the future of our democracy. Research tells us that children do struggle with media literacy. A 2021 publication from the Stanford History Education Group reports on their research team’s national assessment of 3,446 students’ abilities to evaluate sources on the internet.  The one word they use to describe the results is “troubling” (3).  In one particularly striking example, two-thirds of the students were not able to tell the difference between an actual news story and an advertisement. 

Literacy always entails reading and writing both the word and the world (Freire & Macedo, 1987). It requires teaching students to be able to break codes, make meaning, understand genres and uses of texts, and critically produce and analyze texts (Luke & Freebody, 1990).  Readers must both question and analyze the thinking in text through using the keen abilities of synthesis, analysis, evaluation, and interpretation in order to make well-reasoned and reflective responses, as critical engagement with the ways in which we produce and consume meaning, whose meanings count and whose are dismissed, who speaks and who is silenced, who benefits and who is disadvantaged” are essential to literacy growth (Janks, 2014, p.43).

Teacher preparation programs have a deep responsibility to help teacher candidates learn how to center the ability to read  and write critically in their PK-12 classrooms. Candidates must have many learning opportunities throughout their credential programs to engage with multiple, diverse literacies  centering learning and inquiry practices.  The recent passage of Assembly Bill 873 provides another welcome opportunity to highlight and integrate critical thinking in the form of media literacy in the teacher preparation programs and in K-12 classrooms.

We have gathered the following resources that may be of use for teacher educators as you work to integrate media literacy into your credential program. These offerings are not meant to be exhaustive but to help begin or support your ongoing inquiry into the field. 

Resources to help you learn more about Assembly Bill 873 and its rationale 



Possible Use

Assembly Bill 873: This link will take you to an external website in a new tab.

Government Document

The bill is the primary source and can enrich your foundational understanding of state requirements.

Statement by the Office of Marc Berman: California to Teach Media Literacy in Every Grade This link will take you to an external website in a new tab.

Press Release

Marc Berman is a CA Assemblymember and the author of Assembly Bill 873. This press release briefly explains the parameters of the bill and the rationale for writing it. Key supporters of the bill are also listed. This can be used to provide contextual information on the intent of the legislation and the intent of it.   

Stanford History Group, Students Civic Online Reasoning: A National Portrait This link will take you to an external website in a new tab.

Research report published by the Stanford History Education Group

This research report provides student data that makes a very compelling case for the need for critical media literacy in the classroom. 

Model School Library Standards for CA Public Schools: This link will open a PDF file from an external website in a new tab.


CA State Standards

These are the existing standards that the bill suggests be integrated into the frameworks. Candidates can learn and apply these standards into lessons across the content areas. Faculty can learn this content so they can plan learning opportunities.