by Bob McCannon

Albuquerque Academy is pleased to be able to help expand media literacy in New Mexico and give the state pilot project a home for the next year. When Downs Media Education Center came to us with the notion of helping the project establish a permanent New Mexico base, we jumped at the opportunity to work with teachers from all around the state; it seemed to fit with our love of media education and our school's outreach program. With time short, we proposed a grant; it was accepted, and here we are.

Who are we? Specifically, we are Bob McCannon and Giles Pennington. Giles is the head of the Academy summer session which is known for its innovative programs. Giles works with teachers from a variety of New Mexico schools and colleges. He also works with the business community and parents. Teaching about media has become Giles'favorite activity and he is chief cook and bottle washer for next fall's conference. "Teaching around Televison" which will be held next October 20-23 at the Academy.

Bob McCannon also teaches media and has experience working with educators. He is the Coordinator of Multimedia and Technology at the Academy, and he is very interested in digital video and multimedia; he is author of the video, "Making Connections; Teaching Social Studies Through Technology," which was sponsored by Apple Computer and the National Council for the Social Studies. Bob was elected President of the New Mexico Council for the Social Studies several times, and during his leadership, the Council went from a small, Albuquerque-based group to a thriving organization with board members and functions statewide.

Bob and Giles are only a few of the folks at the Academy committed to media literacy, and as we describe our proposal, you will sense that supporting cast. One more thing about Albuquerque Academy: we have a strong committment to diversity, multicultural education, and socioeconomic justice. Our outreach program commits millions of dollars to these goals.

What did we propose? Basically, we proposed a continuation of the fine beginning of DMEC's pilot project with some specific changes and additions. Here are the key concepts that were presented to the State Board of Education.

1. Continue to expose New Mexico's students to media literacy education.

2. Publish The State of Media Education quarterly newsletter.

3. Training: Establish conferences and trainings that will train students, teachers, parents, administrators, community and civic leaders, members of the media and establish a system of rewards, awards and professional development.

4. Curriculum: Develop curriculum materials and provide on-site support.

5. Database: Develop a statewide database.

6. Research: Provide unique research measuring student, parent, and teacher outcomes to better serve New Mexico students.

7. Offices: Transfer the project to offices at Albuquerque Academy which will fund it with $60,000 of in kind services of office, secretarial, phone, computer technicians, accounting, public relations and co-directors: Bob McCannon and Giles Pennington. A state Coordinator will be hired.

8. Board: Create a self-administering, ethnically, professionally, and geographically representative volunteer board of directors to provide professional development for teachers and advise policy. Hopefully, this group will become a self governing and independent board within two years.

9. Network: Using the Academy Internet node, we will create an online NM media literacy database, creating a local, state, national and international communication and information site.

10. Publicity: By creating media attention, we create media messages, using the medium to expose students to new ideas and create change. We will work to educate and take advantage of the media.

This plan was designed for a $125,000 grant. The good news is that we received more than last year, the bad news is that we received less than planned, $37,750. Now begins a period of negotiations with the state, and hopefully, much of the above will come to fruition. At this time details are a bit scarce, but it is certain that media education will continue to be supported in New Mexico.

We look forward to getting input from you and helping you put together teacher trainings, new materials, a support network, database and, of course, continue to expand the newsletter.

What is our major goal? We are intensely committed to goal number nine. We want to establish a diverse board and an even more diverse group of media literacy advocates. Our philosophy will be one of open arms, accepting people for their strengths, minimizing bureaucracy and negatives. We invite everyone to contribute to the organization. We want a group that maximizes energy, accomplishment and good feelings about media education.

Please, if you have any ideas, feelings, materials, contacts - anything, write us at the Academy at 6400 Wyoming NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87109, or call at (505)828-3264.

What about your conference? New Mexico people are already calling about the Academy conference, so let us start by saying we have been working on this conference for several years, and that it is not connected to the grant or the pilot project, although it will reinforce many goals of those organizations. The conference, "Teaching Around Television," is going to bring together 300 people from all over the world to conduct a "conversation" with each other and 22 of the top experts in fields concerned with media and education.

The conference's internationally distinguished faculty includes researchers, medical experts, media educators, activists, authors, psychiatrists, and media figures. They are: Wally Bowen, Renate and Geoffrey Caine, Brandon Cenlenwall, Gloria DeGaetano, Deidre Downs, Hugh Downs, Jane Healy, Charles Johnston, Jean Kilbourne, Robert Kubey, Bill McKibben, Kathryn Montgomery, Kate Moody, Robyn Quin, Godfrey Reggio, Dorothy and Jerome Singer, Elizabeth Thoman, and Kathleen Tyner.

Our guiding principle is to provide a large number of experts and a limited enrollment, thus, facilitating wonderfully small discussion groups which can have genuine "conversations" which will generate questions for the larger group panels and presenters. Also, five meal events come with the registration, hopefully further stimulating access to the large faculty. Such a conference costs more than a typical one (one with less faculty and more attendees), and even though we are running the conference at cost, registration is still $450. If you are interested, don't wait to call (505) 828-3190 for a brochure.

We hope to see some of you at the conference, but more importantly, we are working to uplink the big panel discussions to rural New Mexico, tape the Saturday presentations, and make documents and presentations available to everyone- either by tape or Internet. As the work of spreading media literacy takes shape this summer and fall, we hope to help you have your conferences, and we are thrilled at the possibility of being included in your conversations.

That, in a nutshell, is our vision. We are enthusiastic to hear your and work with you to make New Mexico the first media literate state.