University of Massachusetts, Amherst
This presentation focuses on the trajectory of attempts to legislate media literacy as part of education reform, exploring the route the study of media literacy has taken over the years and its various incarnations. When the need for further study of the media is brought to the attention of legislators, it is almost always as a response to a tragic public event. A quickly-learned shorthand develops where one need use only a couple words to grapple with a larger issue: Columbine; Aurora; Newtown; Cyber-bullying are but just a few in our recent public history. I explore legislative support and resistance to including the study of the media in the primary and secondary school classroom and show that without regulatory support, media literacy runs the risk of remaining piecemeal and individualized, thereby implicitly supporting neoliberal policies. Further, this presentation shares work being done in the state of Massachusetts on curriculum and legislative development to include the study of the media in all public schools across the state. Sustained grassroots efforts can make proactive change and with a better understanding of history, the inclusion of media literacy into education reform can serve to shift the public conversation.