Originally published by Marianne Goodland in Colorado Politics After an eight-day delay, House lawmakers went another two hours Friday on a media literacy bill that Republicans claim will provide one-sided, leftist views of the media. House Bill 21-1103 would put into law the recommendations of an advisory committee, formed under HB 19-1110, that came up with standards for a media literacy curriculum for public schools. Co-sponsor Rep. Lisa Cutter, D-Littleton, said the bill would require school districts to incorporate media literacy into reading, writing and literacy standards the next time those standards are up for review. The burden of evaluating the validity of information has shifted from media outlets to the individual, Cutter said. “We need to ensure our students are taught how to access and evaluate media in all its forms,” she told the House Friday during a second round of second reading debate. The first, on March 11, featured the partial reading of a 158-page report issued by the advisory committee on media literacy standards. Friday's debate brought more heat, inflammatory rhetoric and a long list of amendments and questions from Republicans. Debate and disagreement are a necessary and healthy part of democracy, Cutter said at the beginning of the debate. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we weren’t arguing over the facts and instead debating solutions?” she asked. Cutter also noted that foreign countries, such as Iran, deliberately spread misinformation about President Trump during last year’s election cycle. Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, the bill’s other co-sponsor, said people should not fear the term media literacy. She also advocated for healthy debate, but one with facts rather than opinion. The material used for teaching media literacy would be controlled by the a small group of people, according to Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park. He didn't say who. The government should not press its philosophy onto the student body and a single point of view should be not be taught in the schools, he said, which he later called a “leftist world view.” McLachlan said that because of local control, educators get to decide what materials to use, which could be the materials provided by the Department of Education or another organization. No one is telling them what to use, she said. Democrats turned back an amendment that would make that explicit. The resource materials available to schools from the CDE are a library of sorts, McLachlan said, akin to an encyclopedia. That prompted Rep. Ron Hanks, R-Penrose, to point out that in Romania, one-time president Nicolae Ceaușescu wrote the books in his country's libraries. Those facts were what the Romanian president said they were, he said. Ceaușescu wrote a 32-volume set of books, “On the Way of Building up the Multilaterally Developed Socialist Society.” When he was thrown out (and eventually executed) after a 1989 revolution, his books at the national library and all over the world were shredded. “How do we know encyclopedias are fact-based here?” Hanks asked. “Whose facts are we using and who’s banking them?” He also called the bill Orwellian and a violation of the First Amendment. Rep. Andy Pico, R-Colorado Springs, said the resource bank should be renamed the Pravda bank. He also referred to CNN as the Communist News Network, the Los Angeles Times as the "LA Slimes" and the Washington Post as the "Washington Compost." If the resource bank were thrown out of the bill, we can have a conversation, he told Democrats. The House adopted two of the amendments proposed by Republicans. The most significant was offered by Rep. Tim Geitner, R-Colorado Springs, toward the end of the debate and in collaboration from Cutter, on allowing public input into the materials offered in the resource bank. “We aren’t prescribing facts,” Cutter said, to some of the questions raised by Republicans. “There’s a way to determine facts ... . We’re suggesting that children need to understand how to corroborate” the information that comes through their phones and to give them the tools to do that, she said. HB 1103 won preliminary voice vote approval on Friday and is likely to be headed to a final House vote on Monday.
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