Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill.
Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill.

New Classes for New Jersey

The Garden State will add information literacy to grades K–12.

Schools must teach math. Students also need to learn English, social studies, and science. Well, kids in New Jersey will soon be studying another subject as well. On January 4, the state’s governor signed a new bill into law. It requires New Jersey schools to teach information literacy to all students from kindergarten through grade 12.

Some schools already include information literacy in their curriculum. But New Jersey became the first state in America to add information literacy to all the public schools in every grade.

So, what is information literacy? The bill calls it “a set of skills that an individual to recognize when information is needed and to locate, , and effectively use the needed information.” You need to use information literacy when you read books or news sites. You also need it for social media, movies, TV shows, video games, and ads — or any other source of info. Information literacy includes key skills for media literacy.

Michael Testa is a state senator in New Jersey. He voted to support the bill — which passed the state senate 36–0 in November before Governor Phil Murphy signed it in Trenton, New Jersey. “Teaching children about information literacy will help them to weigh the flood of news, opinion, and social media they are exposed to — both online and off,” said Testa. “This law isn’t about teaching kids that any specific idea is true or false,” he added. “It’s about helping them learn how to research, evaluate, and understand the information they are presented for themselves.”

Many people struggle to figure out what information is real. Many websites or social media posts include fake facts. Governor Murphy called it his “responsibility” to make sure that America’s “future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction.” And he said he was “proud” to sign this bill to support “the success of New Jersey’s students and the preservation of our democracy.”

Ewa Dziedzic-Elliott called this new law “a huge win for educators across the state.” She is a school librarian in New Jersey — and the president of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians. Dziedzic-Elliott said information literacy supports the other subjects that students learn in school. “Now we’re trying to add another layer to what we teach,” she told News-O-Matic. That means not only the content, “but how is that content and how is it evaluated and how is it brought to light?”

“The good news is that this law is not an add-on,” explained Olga Polites. She works for a group called Media Literacy Now, which worked to get the bill passed. “Some teachers are going to say, ‘Wow, I already do this’ because the library specialist or the media center specialist taught me how to do this,” she added. “That’s the really good part about the way the bill is designed.”

Experts will now work to figure out how to add information literacy to New Jersey’s classrooms. That process may take a year or two. Meanwhile, Dziedzic-Elliott believes that other states may pass similar bills for schools. “We are setting a tone for the country,” she told News-O-Matic. “We believe our success is going to push through to other states.”

Updated January 5, 2023, 5:03 P.M. (ET)
By Russell Kahn (Russ)

New Classes for New Jersey

The Garden State will add information literacy to grades K–12.

Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill.
Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill.

Schools must teach math. Students also need to learn English, social studies, and science. Well, kids in New Jersey will soon be studying another subject as well. On January 4, the state’s governor signed a new bill into law. It requires New Jersey schools to teach information literacy to all students from kindergarten through grade 12.

Some schools already include information literacy in their curriculum. But New Jersey became the first state in America to add information literacy to all the public schools in every grade.

So, what is information literacy? The bill calls it “a set of skills that an individual to recognize when information is needed and to locate, , and effectively use the needed information.” You need to use information literacy when you read books or news sites. You also need it for social media, movies, TV shows, video games, and ads — or any other source of info. Information literacy includes key skills for media literacy.

Michael Testa is a state senator in New Jersey. He voted to support the bill — which passed the state senate 36–0 in November before Governor Phil Murphy signed it in Trenton, New Jersey. “Teaching children about information literacy will help them to weigh the flood of news, opinion, and social media they are exposed to — both online and off,” said Testa. “This law isn’t about teaching kids that any specific idea is true or false,” he added. “It’s about helping them learn how to research, evaluate, and understand the information they are presented for themselves.”

Many people struggle to figure out what information is real. Many websites or social media posts include fake facts. Governor Murphy called it his “responsibility” to make sure that America’s “future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction.” And he said he was “proud” to sign this bill to support “the success of New Jersey’s students and the preservation of our democracy.”

Ewa Dziedzic-Elliott called this new law “a huge win for educators across the state.” She is a school librarian in New Jersey — and the president of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians. Dziedzic-Elliott said information literacy supports the other subjects that students learn in school. “Now we’re trying to add another layer to what we teach,” she told News-O-Matic. That means not only the content, “but how is that content and how is it evaluated and how is it brought to light?”

“The good news is that this law is not an add-on,” explained Olga Polites. She works for a group called Media Literacy Now, which worked to get the bill passed. “Some teachers are going to say, ‘Wow, I already do this’ because the library specialist or the media center specialist taught me how to do this,” she added. “That’s the really good part about the way the bill is designed.”

Experts will now work to figure out how to add information literacy to New Jersey’s classrooms. That process may take a year or two. Meanwhile, Dziedzic-Elliott believes that other states may pass similar bills for schools. “We are setting a tone for the country,” she told News-O-Matic. “We believe our success is going to push through to other states.”

Updated January 5, 2023, 5:03 P.M. (ET)
By Russell Kahn (Russ)

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