JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CREATING AN ADVISORY COUNCIL RELATING TO DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP, INTERNET SAFETY AND MEDIA LITERACY.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
REASONS FOR BILL:
The reasons for this bill are to address the lack of items in the education curriculums for classes pertaining to digital citizenship, media literacy and internet safety and to create an advisory council to inform teachers of the best methods used to educate themselves and their students about media literacy, digital citizenship, and internet safety.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Douglas Casey, Executive Director, Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology:
Executive Director Casey testified on behalf of the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology (CTEDTECH) in support of SB949 indicating that the objectives this bill champions, education relating to media literacy, internet safety, and digital citizenship, are in line with what the commission recommends. Additionally, Mr. Casey included that by state statute Chapter 61a the commission has charge of the establishment of student competency skills, which include ethical and effective use of digital and other media and that the commission had endorsed and works with schools and professional teacher associations to add the most current technology standards into the curriculum.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Karissa L. Niehoff, ED.D, Executive Director, The Connecticut Association of Schools:
Executive Director Niehoff testified on behalf of The Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) in support of SB949 stating that digital safety and citizenship are important issues facing students and schools should be addressing said issues with students in all levels. Ms. Niehoff indicated that CAS would like to be a part of this advisory council because their reach is statewide Pre-K through 12 and its members are school leadership.
Jeremy Bond, West Hartford:
Mr. Bond testified in support of SB949 stating that media literacy and digital citizenship education could not be more critical as children build digital identities and navigate the media with the advent of 'fake news'. He speaks from the experience of participating in digital citizenship summits and media literacy conferences both here and on the west coast. From those he had learned that there needs to be more done and included that Connecticut had hosted its first Digital Citizenship Summit and that the Northeast Media Literacy Conference which are both resources to draw from.
Belinha De Abreu, PhD, Media Literacy Educator:
Dr. De Abreu testified in support of SB949 listing that she is a media and information literacy educator and has taught in both public education and in higher education for over twenty years. She indicated that media literacy is one of the most critical skills students need to develop but that media literacy programs are seriously lacking in schools, as she believes that education has become more about data collection and testing. She stated that turning devices off is not the solution and that it was impossible to live off the grid, making it necessary for an expansion of this type of learning in schools. She added that creating an advisory council is the first step in this process and that she would be willing to serve on the advisory board should the bill be passed.
Elisavet Kousidis, Media Specialist, Norwalk:
Ms. Kousidis testified in support of SB949 stating that public schools are responsible for cultivating the skills needed in an increasingly competitive economy and that the digital age brought a new set of obstacles to prepare students to face. Ms. Kousidis is a media specialist at her school and is a partner in aiding with the implementation of these important objectives. She believes that the creation of an advisory council will set the tone for best practices across Connecticut and ensure a high quality learning experience for all students.
Shannon McNeice, Library Media Specialist, West Hartford:
Ms. McNeice testified in support of SB949 emphasizing that in the year 2000 library media specialists were calling for the state to support a certified media specialist in every school library and that they are still not required in any level as of 2017. She stated that data correlates the relationship between a media specialist and increased literacy results and expressed that a council to work with schools on expanding this type of learning would pick up where she left off in 2000.
Marcus Stallworth, LMSW:
Mr. Stallworth testified in support of SB949 stating that as a trainer with the Child Welfare League of America he had seen multiple situations where both children and adults found themselves on the wrong side of social media such as shaming, cyberbullying, and online cruelty. Mr. Stallworth believes that media literacy and digital citizenship are integral components to aid in the education of youth and offered his willingness to participate in coordination efforts as well as stating that he would consider it a privilege to be part of a finalized council.
Kathleen Smith, Ledyard:
Ms. Smith testified in support of SB949 indicating two specific reasons with the first being that students are being given devices in schools but not receiving instruction for responsible use and that the council's plan to effectively instruct students in this field will ensure students receive the guidance to learn and develop these skills. Ms. Smith stated her second reason she was supporting this bill was for the council to address who would be teaching these skills, as she believes that classroom and subject area teachers barely have enough time to get through their curriculums and that the council will have to address the elimination of certified school library media specialists, detailing that budget cuts have forced cuts across the state and that in her district alone 6 of the schools went from 5 to 2 certified school librarian media specialists.
Jennifer Rocca, School Librarian, Digital Citizenship Teacher, Brookfield:
Ms. Rocca testified in support of SB949 discussing that digital literacy is a critical life skill and that her time as a school librarian and digital citizenship teacher at Brookfield High School. She included that she had to develop her own curriculum when her school adopted a 1:1 technology policy in 2010 and when the 'fake news' hype of the 2016 election occurred and the instruction was needed for students to distinguish between what was legitimate and what was fake, she had found that the answer existed already in the models they had to address the problem.
Mr. Highland testified in support of SB949 and included that the role of media specialists in schools are important due to their knowledge of how to critically evaluate sources of information and how to use information to build knowledge.
Ms. Webb testified in support of SB949 expressing her belief that the time is now for Connecticut educators to be more aware and knowledgeable on the impact that media can have on children. She went on to say that as media and technology continues to develop and peoples' minds are flooded with information from those sources, education on those items could aid in developing concrete judgement that a person can have when faced with a problem or issue that needs to be solved in moments.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Anne Manusky, Easton:
Ms. Manusky testified in opposition to SB949 expressing her belief that this bill should wait to be acted upon until the fiscal situation in Connecticut is resolved.
Reported by: William Allen