New law takes aim at teaching students to spot fake news

Media literacy will be a topic throughout Golden State schools starting next year.

California students are now required to take media literacy courses throughout every grade level to recognize fake news. 

The new law was introduced by Asm. Marc Berman (D–Menlo Park) and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last month. 


The big picture: Per the new law, media literacy lessons must be incorporated into standards for English, science, math, and history classes when they are revised after the new year. 

  • Previous laws required the state department of education to post resources and instructional materials on its website for school districts to access.
  • California follows other states such as New Jersey, Illinois and Delaware in requiring media literacy classes. 

Driving the news: The bill’s text reads that students should be able to ask and answer questions about the “moral obligation and ethical standards regarding what appears on social media networks and digital platforms.” 

  • The law also points to a Stanford study that found 82 percent of middle school students could not tell the difference between ads and news stories. 
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