Steyer's 'Common Sense Media' Involvement With SB 18, The Bill of Rights for Children and Youth

By Michael Monasky | March 1, 2017 |  The Bill of Rights for Children and Youth , California Senate Bill 18, aspires to improve del...

By Michael Monasky | March 1, 2017 | 

The Bill of Rights for Children and Youth, California Senate Bill 18, aspires to improve delivery of educational and social services to California's children. In a public forum in Sacramento, Senator Richard Pan has noted Jim Steyer and his privately-owned, child-media review company, Common Sense Media, as the sponsor of the bill. Steyer has characterized SB 18 as a “blueprint for a child-centered system that nurtures every child from the beginning of life.” 

Just exactly how that's done is what prompted the Los Angeles Times to label the bill “overly ambitious.”  Particularly vague is the first finding of the bill: children have “the right to parents, guardians, or caregivers who act in their best interest.” 

The best interest of the child (BIC) is, at best, professional jargon that does not belong in a bill, because the state isn't the only agent concerned with the welfare of the child. SB 18 lacks language to protect the rights of the parent to raise the child as they see fit. There's superior and precedent language in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:  “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services...” After all, children don't raise themselves; that's the duty and privilege of the parents.

Adding to the fray in this fight is the questionable history and intent of Common Sense Media (CSM), the bill's sponsor. The New York Times has reported that CSM-CEO Jim Steyer received $20 million in pledges raised by his brother, hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer for this project. 

 In addition, CSM received $6 million annual operating expenses in 2014 from the largest cable operators in the nation. The MacArthur and Sherwood Foundations contribute; the Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation pays CSM for a “Yelp for teachers.” Imagine that.

CSM's Steyer lobbies Washington, D.C. to promote his digital literary curriculum business in 90,000 of our nation's public schools. He has convinced federal officials and the Federal Communications Commission to invest $3.9 billion for hard-wiring high-speed broadband service into schools and libraries, benefiting cable companies like Comcast, AT&T, DirecTV, and Time-Warner, which purchase his media-review products for children. 

“What you’re seeing is an organization pushing an agenda to improve education through technology coinciding with the self-interests of companies providing funding to that organization,” said Joel R. Reidenberg, a professor at the Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan. “If you had municipal governments providing Wi-Fi in poor neighborhoods, you wouldn’t need to subsidize the private sector to do it.”

Post a Comment Default Comments

Follow Us



Elk Grove News Minute

All previous Elk Grove News Minutes, interviews, and Dan Schmitt's Ya' Gotta be Schmittin' Me podcasts are now available on iTunes

Elk Grove News Podcast