I was raised to believe that there are no higher professional callings than health care and teaching, no duties more sacred than the welfare and education of our kids. And yet, as TIME’s Katie Reilly reports in this week’s cover story, more than half of all states are spending less per student than before the Great Recession, and annual pay for America’s public-school teachers has barely budged in three decades. In 2017, teachers made nearly 20% less than comparable college-educated professionals.
The education of future generations is not solely the job of teachers, however. All of us have a part to play, including those of us in the media. A few weeks ago, TIME’s Katy Steinmetz took a deep look at a critical educational challenge that is particularly close to home: news literacy. We can blame Facebook, Twitter and web profiteers in Macedonia all we want for the proliferation of false information online, but at some level the responsibility comes down to each of us having the baseline ability to discern fact from fiction. “Having a well-informed citizenry,” Katy wrote, “may be, in the big picture, as important to survival as having clean air and water.” (You can read her story at TIME.com/fake-news.) That work needs to begin early. According to an extensive recent report from PEN America, students need to be taught news literacy before middle school in order to be “inoculated” from disinformation.
At TIME, we’ve been focused on this issue for more than two decades through a publication called TIME for Kids, which is distributed to some 1.8 million students around the country. The editors and writers at TIME for Kids work closely with their counterparts at TIME and TIME.com, as well as with educators, to help make the world comprehensible to students in ways they can trust. This year, we are stepping up our focus on news literacy, offering special features and teachers’ guides to help kids better discern what’s real and what’s not across the media landscape. As TIME for Kids editorial director Andrea Delbanco notes, “Historically, kids were just left out of the conversation. Now they are exposed to dozens of media messages every day. They need context more than ever.”
You can support this effort by visiting DonorsChoose.org and searching “TIME for Kids” to help a teacher join the fight against misinformation.
This appears in the September 24, 2018 issue of TIME.