Thoughts about Civic Education, Democratic Citizenship, and School Libraries

By Lai, Terri | CSLA Journal, Summer 2017 | Go to article overview

Thoughts about Civic Education, Democratic Citizenship, and School Libraries


Lai, Terri, CSLA Journal


In California, teacher librarians have struggled to maintain their positions. Districts will admit that credentialed teacher librarians are vital to education but, have had a hard time "finding" the funds to pay for this person and the clerical staff to support this teacher. Many teacher librarians will testif~y that their career has been like a roller coaster as funding is available, then is not.

Due to the recent political campaigns of 2016 and heavy use of social media, fake news proliferated at an alarming rate. To highlight this topic in relation to the education of children K-12, the executive summary of "Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning" (http://stanford.io/2gkkfXe), a study from the Stanford History Education Group, including 7,804 students from 12 states across a variety of socio-economic backgrounds was released on November 22, 2016. The researchers examined students' abilities to analyze home pages, evaluate evidence, and claims on social media. The results of the study showed that 80 percent of students are unable to distinguish between fake and truth in the news (Stanford, 2016). They cannot judge the credibility of information that floods their smartphones, tablets, and computers.

In the article "A search for truth: Real-life lessons about fake news" from the CTA magazine California Educator March 2017, fake news is defined as misinformation found in publications and on websites that look deceptively newsy (Posnick-Goodwin).

There are currently two bills related to this issue in the State Legislature. AB155 by Assembly member Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) would incorporate analytical skills for online information into English and other subjects grades 6-12. Another bill, SB135, by State Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) would add media literacy training to social science standards for grades 1-12.

Jeff Frost, CSLA's legislative advocate in Sacramento, is working on amending these bills to have teacher librarians, who are already credentialed to teach analytical skills for online information and media literacy, be identified as the staff person to take the lead in this curriculum. …

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