After completing his exchange program to Indonesia in 2012, high school social studies teacher Seth Brady of Naperville, Illinois developed the Illinois Global Scholar Certificate, an initiative which recognizes students who demonstrate global competence through coursework, service learning, and a capstone project.

One of Seth’s 2020 students, Braden Hajer, selected for his capstone project the issue of misinformation in the media. He decided the best way to effect change would be to enact legislation requiring media literacy education in high schools. With the help of subject matter experts, Braden drafted a bill and sought out sponsors in the Illinois House and Senate. Working with Representative Lisa Hernandez, Braden introduced the bill to the House, delivered testimony, identified co-sponsors, and garnered public support. He did the same when it moved to the Senate. The bill passed and was signed by Governor Pritzker on July 9, 2021. The curriculum went into effect in the 2022 – 2023 school year.

“So many Illinoisans rely on social media as their primary or even sole source of news and other important information. Given this trend, it’s more important than ever that young people learn to discern truth from fiction and facts from misinformation,” Rep. Hernandez said. “I am tremendously proud of Braden and his teacher, Seth Brady, for their collaboration on this legislation. Their hard work has helped make Illinois a leader in media literacy education, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with them.”

Illinois is the first state in the country to mandate media literacy education for all high school students. Teacher exchange alum Seth Brady noted, “I believe the world needs more civically-engaged citizens...working for the common good. Braden is an incredibly humble, kind young man whose story can serve as an inspiration to other young people who are working to make their communities, states, and nation the best place that they can be.”

Read more on Representative Hernandez’s press release and in news coverage from CBS and the Chicago Tribune

Seth Brady is an alum of the Teachers for Global Classrooms Program 2011 - 2012, United States to Indonesia.