State Allots $115M For Virtual Learning

Governor Phil Murphy (photo courtesy Governor's Office)

  IRVINGTON – With the assumption that all school districts are going to have some form of virtual learning in September, the State is allotting $115 million to provide technology so that every student in New Jersey will have the ability to learn from home.

  Gov. Phil Murphy held a press conference in Irvington, where about half of the students didn’t have access to computers at home.

  Schools have been closed since March, and online education has provided its own challenges. COVID-19 has exposed problems in our everyday life, and one of the problems in the educational system is that poor families do not have the same opportunities as others.

  He called the $115 million in funding the Digital Divide Initiative, because it is designed to bridge the divide between the have and have-nots in terms of access to educational materials.

  This money will come from a variety of sources, he said. The state is also reaching out to the philanthropic community and possible industry partners to stretch the state money more. There could be an “adopt-a-district” situation. Some money will be available for private schools.

  Senate President Steve Sweeney was part of the movement to get the money approved.

  “The greatest equalizer in the world is education,” he said. “How many Einsteins have we lost? How many brilliant minds did we lose because they didn’t get an education?”

  “We do know that many schools are going hybrid,” said Senator Teresa Ruiz, chair of the Senate Education Committee. By that, she meant that many districts will likely have a mix of in-person education and virtual in September.

  Murphy and Sweeney thanked Ruiz for pushing for this movement in order to get kids educational technology. She said the driving force is equity – will legislation and policies be written in a way to protect every single person in an equitable manner?

  “It’s 2020. It’ll be to be 2021 soon,” she said. “What’s the problem with every student having access to a computer?”