Governors, educators include "media" in voluntary U.S. core-curriculum standards; but do they go far enough?

By Bill Densmore

"Media literacy" concepts are generally part of a major effort to push adoption of voluntary "Common Core State Standards" for English and literacy in history, social, studies, science and technical subjects, an initial line-by-line comparison of drafts shows. But do the standards go far enough?

Seaching on the term "media" in the English standards shows no reference to media literacy as a term or concept, and no mention of "news" at all. The word "media" is used in many places, and some references in the final draft are improved from the April draft, from the perspective of referencing general media-literacy tenets. There is reference to the need to be able to work with "informational texts" and that could certainly include news.

READ A LINE-BY-LINE COMPARISON.

Frank Baker, a former broadcast journalism executive who run's the nation's most extensive website of media-literacy resources, does not believe the standards go far enough.

A comprehensive statement of support was released by big-city educators. 

Dane Linn, director of the education division of the National Governors Association, said federal officials didn't help create the document and didn't have input on the early drafts, the Wall Street Journal wrote.

The most analytical coverage I saw was a few grafs blogged on the Newsweek website, headlined: "A breakthrough for local-control-loving U.S. schools," (excerpted below):

" . . . (T)he National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (rather than the federal government) took the lead, and states were invited to join the process voluntarily. In a country where local control of schools often outranks other educational considerations, the key to success was finding a way to create national but not federal standards.

" . . . One of the coups of the new math and English standards: They are designed to encourage educators to teach deeper knowledge and understanding, rather than laundry lists of superficial facts, but don.t specify how teachers should transmit information. If those goals are achieved, the result should be less worry about teaching to the test, and more schools encouraging students to do higher-level thinking. At least, that's the theory."

Here's a key graf from the U.S. Dept. of Education release:

"As states move forward to implement the standards, they will need to translate standards into classroom teaching that will help all students master these new standards. The Department plans to support state implementation efforts by providing federal funds for high quality assessments, professional development to help teachers enhance the knowledge and skills needed to help students master the standards, and research to support continual improvement of the standards and assessments over time."

And the National Association of State Boards of Education commented: 

"While this is primarily a state-led movement, the Obama administration is supporting this initiative to develop common standards by allocating part of the $4 billion .Race to the Top. funds towards the common core initiative, including $350 million for the development of common assessments."