It’s time to pass the information literacy bill
Let’s start this editorial with a question: What do you think is the greatest threat to our democracy?
No, it’s not meant to be a leading question leading us down a partisan rabbit hole. Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, AOC and Tucker Carlson are not considered correct answers. If you said any of them, please delete it and try again. Only in broader terms.
You could say that voter suppression is a big threat, and that’s what we understand. A reasonable assertion. Or maybe you would say money in politics. Again, this is not a bad answer.
But we would say the biggest threat to our democracy is polarization and disinformation.
Don’t we all feel that these days? Don’t we know people whose facts do not match our facts? Don’t we all feel like we know people who live on another planet?
Informed citizenship is at the heart of a democracy.
Without it, we the people – as architects of our government – are subject to manipulation, wrong decisions, wrong choices.
News education is important.
And especially in this era of rumors, lies and lies on social media, algorithmic digital marketing, Orwellian politics and yes, bias in news media, it has become central.
Our greatest hope is that today’s young people will grow up to be wise citizens, develop a healthy skepticism about the information they receive, understand how to verify what they read and hear and pride themselves on being open to thinking about ideas that might challenge their views.
These are the ingredients of responsible citizenship, also the ingredients of a healthy democracy.
And I hope these ingredients provide light at the end of the tunnel of our dysfunctional polarization.
Yes, information literacy is important, as we have said in this area in the past.
We are therefore disappointed that Springfield’s legislation requiring an information literacy program in our schools has become another partisan issue.
We do not understand this. We don’t understand why Republicans would oppose citizenship education. Our schools are designed to prepare our children for the adult world. In a democracy, which preparation is the most important?
The program does not specify who or what to believe. It develops thinking skills. It is not partisan.
The bill passed the House by party vote. Congratulations to suburban co-sponsors Stephanie Kifowit from Oswego, Joyce Mason from Gurnee and Janet Yang Rohr from Naperville.
A vote is expected this week in the Illinois Senate, where Karina Villa of West Chicago is the primary sponsor, with Laura Ellman of Naperville and Laura Murphy of Des Plaines among the co-sponsors.
We encourage Republicans in the region to come on board. It is a vote for good government. It is a vote to protect our democracy.